Easter 5 John 14:1-14 Acts7:55-end
The Father’s House
How good are you at reading a map? How well do you tend to find your way? I have to confess that I can read a map but I don’t always find it easy to work out directions that people give me. Especially when they know an area inside out, they tend to forget that certain landmarks are not as easy to identify for a stranger. And if they say that the fourth lane on the right is the one to turn (or ‘the lane to Mrs Jones’ house’…), does the pathway to the farm also count? I find it confusing, and if it weren’t for sat nav, I’d be lost half the time. So, there’s some truth perhaps, in my case, that as a woman I’m no good at finding directions, but I can read a map perfectly – and I don’t even have to hold it upside down when going south! So, perhaps I’m not completely stereotype, but it’s an interesting question, isn’t it, how we find our way.
At present, we can’t travel as we would, and our journeys are restricted to short ones for exercise or to get essentials only. So our movements are very local now, and there’s no fear of losing our way. Although, I attempted a short-cut on my walk recently and found I had been mistaken, and I had to walk a much larger circle to find my way back. O well… if the bad news is that our soles wear out quicker, then the good news is that we are finding new pastures and views. There’s the silver lining.
But let’s think for a moment about going on a journey, and the first thing we need to know, of course, is where. Where are we going? Do we really want to go there? And what or who leads us to that place? The next question may be, how are we travelling? That means the route, as well as the company, perhaps. Are we going on our own, or is it a group tour? Who is our guide, and how do they know the way? Lots of questions, if we wish to ask them, and we don’t usually give them much thought, when it’s about holiday travel or a day out. If it’s by boat, train or plane, all we need to do is get a ticket and show up. But even now, in the present situation, we may ask those questions in another sense. Where is the journey of the pandemic taking us? What does the ‘destination’ look like? And how does the Church live in, through and after it? The journey of faith is one that is shaped by our ways of travel. In many ways it’s a shared journey, in which others accompany us, teach us, admonish and encourage us. It’s those others, who, like sheep of the same fold, help us follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who is our guide. There’s one thing that’s very interesting in the view of our destination and the way we get there as propounded in the Bible: that there’s one destination we should aim for – the Father’s House – and that it’s specially prepared for us; tailor-made, as it were. And there’s only one way to get there: Jesus Christ. All other ground (ways/roads) is sinking sand, as the hymn says. Basically, what it is saying, is that no matter how we wish to answer all our questions about the journey or the life of the Church in future, or even our own lives in view of the present time, what defines the Christian life is not looking for a comfortable future, but the hope of Easter Day. We put our faith not in a comfort blanket, but in the risen Christ Jesus. As the Good Shepherd, he leads us safely to our destination with the Father. That means we don’t need a map, not even sat nav, and we can’t mistake directions. All we need to do is focus our eyes on him and follow as he directs. And then even our soles/souls will not wear out… whichever way you spell it… That’s good news to me! Amen.