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Are We There Yet?

Mother's Day Sermon  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:52
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Where are You going?

I was a young mother with a very precocious toddler. She spoke in full sentences - paragraphs - at age 2. She was curious, bright, active, and above all very determined to figure out the world around her. I worked mostly in the late evenings and into the wee hours of the morning. She knew that routine. But if I got up in the morning or early afternoon and got ready to go out -she was ON IT! “What are you doing, Mommy?” “Why are you getting your purse, Mommy?” “Why are you wearing THAT, Mommy?”
“Where. Are. you. going, Mommy?” Exasperated I would reply, “Crazy. And you’re driving!”
Delighted, she would giggle, laugh, put on her shoes - “I want to go!” Sounded like a grand adventure to her!
However, … if I told her she couldn’t go now, that the babysitter was coming and she would go later -WELL! She would look up at me, immediately call upon her crocodile tears, and say, “But, Mommy - I promise to be the Good Lyra today - please - take me with you!”
Peter asks, where, Jesus, are you going? He receives an unexpected answer. He doesn’t tell Peter where exactly he is going,.. only that Peter can’t go - now, .. but will go later. Peter promises to be the Good Peter - But Jesus is firm - no, Peter, you are not ready. In fact you will even deny me today. Patience, faith, - your time will come.
And just as any parent knows when facing a disappointed toddler, Jesus begins to assure Peter, and all the Disciples, with some of the most beloved words in the Gospels:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled”
Jesus, who has been teacher, Master, brother, and friend, now takes the role of the caring parent - he even called the Disciples his little children a few verses before this passage - he takes the role of the caring parent who wants to assure his precious children.
“And you know the place where I am going”
And of course - despite this loving reassurance - it just brought more questions. Jesus doesn’t mind. He is patient, much more so that I ever am as a parent. He assures them. Comforts them.
Jesus doesn't mind their questions - just as Jesus doesn’t mind our questions. Jesus challenges us to look into ourselves and discover what we might already know - that is if we can look beyond our fear. The "unknown" for us is already known by God. Jesus is the answer to our most pressing questions.
Of course, what Jesus knew was that the question Peter was really asking was:
Jesus,

Where are we going?

I am not sure the disciples thought Jesus’ answer was as funny as Lyra always thought mine was. It troubled them. Where was this “PLACE” that Jesus was going? They wanted to know - a physical place! Yet Jesus does not give them this sense of physical place.
This word, translated as “dwelling place” in the NRSV, as “Room to spare” in the CEB was translated for centuries as “mansions”. I am about to get a bit Bible nerdy here, but bear with me - This came from a transliteration of the Latin, into the Tyndale Old English Bible - Mone in Greek translated into Mansio in Latin which just means room, into Mansion in Old English, which at the time meant something completely different than it does today. It just meant a place - Then comes the KJV - mansion remains, but in King James English it means roughly the same as it does now. Even though the KJV scholars knew it now meant something else, they kept it. Leaving the next 40 generations to picture heaven as some version of Downton Abbey.
This word that we often have heard as mansion - if FAR MORE POWERFUL THAN THAT!! It doesn’t mean a large house, all to yourself or your family, with gold everything and servants at your beck and call. After all - if this is heaven, who are the poor souls who are relegated to servants or slave? No - this is far greater than that. This means a dwelling place, a very room...
With Jesus -With God. Within God’s very heart!
Part of our routine at home when Lyra was a baby and toddler, before I met Danny, was that she would often go with me to work in the afternoon while I prepped things and no one was there but us. I would then take her home, fix her dinner, put her pajamas on, and drive her to the babysitter’s house. Often she would fall asleep on the way there. If not, she would play a little - then fall asleep in the crib in the living room, put there so that I could pick her up as quickly and quietly as possible when I got off work. I would take her, put her in the car, go home, carefully carry her to her own bed. Most of the time she never woke up. If she did, it was when she was in my arms, and would quickly fall back asleep. What she did know that she would always wake up in her bed, in our house, in her mother’s house. One time I went to a party after work and had arranged to pick her up the next day, instead of my usual wee hours of the morning routine. When I got there Lyra was one furious toddler. I didn’t understand. “Lyra, this house has way more toys, and a big yard, and lots of kids. I thought you would like it better here, to stay here a while longer and get to play with all this fancy stuff” “NO MOMMY!” she pouted. “Why, Lyra? Isn’t it better here than at our tiny apartment?” “NO, MOMMY. Because you’re not here!”
Anyplace with Mom was home - and it wasn’t fancy - if you haven’t figured it out yet by previous inference - I worked in a bar. We could barely afford anything - Ours wasn’t a palace or mansion to come home to - but it was ours. We were together, abiding in and with one another.
This is what Jesus is saying - This place I am going, this place that I prepare for you, is unimaginable, because unlike any place you have ever been, THIS PLACE is the very heart of God. This place has so much room, so much love, and most importantly - I will be there with you!
No - Dwelling place is NOT a mansion as we think of it. Our reward is that we dwell in God. WOW - what more could we want?
And yet, the disciples were still not satisfied with the answer - Thomas speaks up, “Lord we DO NOT know where you are going...

How do we know the way?

Thomas - oh, Thomas. Always asking the questions out loud that we all are thinking, but too afraid to say.
I have a question for you. How many of you use Siri or Google to find an address, to get directions? Do we sit in our houses, afraid to move because we don’t know the directions or the right or best road to use for every address in the world? Do we not venture into the streets and highways until we know every route, memorize every address on the planet? Of course not! We don’t have to know these things. We don’t even have to remember the way home anymore from any point on earth. Why? We don’t have to know ourselves. Because. We know the source of the knowledge. We know that Google knows and we know Google. So… Google - we trust - Can we trust God?
Jesus tells Thomas - I AM THE WAY! If you know me, you know not just the way, but The Truth, and The Light! If you know me, you know God. And knowing God means knowing the One who does have all the answers. Trust. Believe. Act. Be on the journey with Jesus.
Of course we would like to think that this is enough for the Disciples, for us. Yet as any mother or parent can tell you, it is not. We can get in the car, get on the road, know that our loving Creator is in the driver’s seat, trust that they know the way..
And then, like Philip, just like every child on every trip has said since the beginning of time if any trip is longer than 3 minutes- Philip chimes in from the back seat:

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? I love Mother’s Day, but sometimes I wish it was portrayed a little more realistic. Flowers, peaceful scenes, perfect children, blissful, saintly mothers, all perfectly dressed, looking like they stepped out of a Martha Stewart ad. It would be so easy to be a Hallmark Mother. Not so much when the kids are screaming, you are late, no one is cooperating or listening.... Yet looking back, sometimes those least glamorous moments are the most beautiful. Sometime I imagine Jesus and God as a patient Mother. Not so much the Hallmark Jesus, you know the one, looking lovingly at his lambs, glowing in perfection, with perfect and magnificent hair (who does Jesus’ hair anyway in the middle of the desert?). No sometimes I imagine Jesus and God as the, “Seriously, are you STILL not listening to the words out of my mouth” parent. Whining disciples in the back seat. Wiping noses and tears. Cleaning up messes constantly. Having to tell the kids for the THOUSANDTH time, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father” Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”
Philip is impatient. Just show us already! Then Jesus says something profound - you are still on the journey - AND you have arrived! Being on the journey is also the destination. For once we trust in The Way - we are already indwelling with God and God indwells with us. Aligned with Jesus is alignment with God. This is what it means to ask in Jesus name. Not some magic words trick, but to truly align ourselves and our prayers with the will of God, not our own desires. It means understanding that...

We don't have to KNOW all the answers, and yet when we know Jesus, we HAVE all the answers.

This word for dwelling place also could be a verb - an action. To stay. To dwell. To linger or procrastinate! It is actually used in both states within these 14 verses. Many scholars believe that Jesus was conveying a sense of journey, with many resting and stopping places along the way. It indicates a both/and, that we are already there and we continue. This is fascinating.
To think that..

God dwells in us in this temporal world. We dwell in God for eternity.

Going through this journey during this time of isolation, I think it is increasingly important to remember this. Where can we stop, now, and rest in God? Where can we look forward to the next resting place? Where can we pick up sojourners and tell them of a God who dwells in us and a God who allows us to dwell in them, even in and through our darkest times? And if we become impatient, know that we can ask yet again, for the thousandth time, “Are we there yet?” And we will be answered with a loving and patient response, Yes, we are, because we have God with us in Jesus Christ. And Yes, we will continue to that place where we fully abide in God.
So...

What now?

Now that we know we have arrived AND we are still going - what now?
It is so easy to have a troubled heart. Humans always want to know "the plan" the map, the way. We want to know where we are going, how we will get there, what to expect when we arrive, how long it will take, etc. Jesus says to trust in him, as it is ALREADY accomplished. This is hard, then and now. Yet we must live in this tension, in this trust, for if you and I are to move forward we must do so staying in unity with Jesus, and in God's will.
Where are we going? Do we know the right road? Are we there yet? Jesus powerfully answers these questions by saying we do not have to have all the answers, because when we place our belief ON him, we place our belief ON the one who already knows and who has already made 'the right road".
And that brings us to..

Our True Destination

is Faith. Faith in and on Jesus.
The verses that for most of my teen years were taken out of context to justify a personal savior dependent upon my human actions have opened up to an all-loving, all-encompassing God, sending Jesus to tell us the Good News - I am the way- Through the work of Jesus there is a direct way to God. Through our questions, our doubts, our unbelief - yet - even through all of that - when we but see Jesus, we see God. When we lay our beliefs ON Jesus - we already know the way.
O.K., Jesus, Show me the way to the Father! The Way appears before us - Already there. You see me? You see God!
And when we are lost, know that Jesus is already on it.
We are on the journey, The Way, with Jesus, and .

Yet, we are there!

Amen.
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