Heart Over Head in Love

42154-way-truth-life.400w.tnKenora Easter 5
Mother’s Day – Year A
10 May 2020

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

Generous God,
whose life is freely given
in Jesus Christ our Lord:
as you have opened for us
your house of many rooms,
so may we make a place
for the rejected and unloved,
and share in the work of peace;
through Jesus Christ the cornerstone. Amen.
__________________________________

Have you ever thought that John writes in a way that feels like it’s designed to keep us in the dark?

Rather, it seems that he writes from a perspective that requires us to throw our perceptions out the window, and to come at Jesus’ words, his teachings, and his messages from a completely different point of view.

It seems that he calls us to take our heads out of the equation, and to let our hearts lead the way.

And in all of the places of the world where we seek to learn and put logic before anything else, this is a huge concept, to step back, to stop thinking, stop overanalyzing the messages from Jesus and to let our hearts lead the way.

In today’s gospel we see Jesus telling us, telling the disciples that his time on earth is coming to an end, but at the same time, that this isn’t the end of the road.

Rather, it’s the end of our perceptions of the goals we thought were the priority.

Jesus tells us: “2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” (Jn 14:2-4)

And Thomas says: ““Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”” (Jn 14:5)

Jesus says: ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”” (Jn 14:6-7)

And Philip says: ““Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”” (Jn 14:8)

We continue through all of this, through every encounter we have with the world and with Jesus, to look at the world through our eyes.

We continue to have our brains interpreting what we think we’re seeing, while Jesus talks to our hearts, to our souls, to the ‘lost sheep,’ in each of us who hears and responds to the voice of our shepherd.

In John’s interpretation, this is as clear as mud, right?

After all, isn’t an encounter with, or relationship with the divine meant to leave us scratching our heads?

We can return to Jesus conversation with Nicodemus on the rooftop, in the darkness, eleven chapters earlier, when he says “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5b-8)

And when Nicodemus, a leader of Israel doesn’t get it, Jesus says: “10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (Jn 3:10)

We can see that Nicodemus is trying to fit Jesus’ message of the benefits of baptism, of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity in our lives into the categories, the ‘pigeon holes’ in his mind where he stores and sorts and pulls out information when it’s needed. He’s approaching it as he’s done all of his life, from the idea of logic, instead of from the perspective of faith.

And we do the same in each of our lives, as well.

After all, this is Jesus, this is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, one third of the Trinity who is the great “I AM.” (Ex 3:14)

An encounter with God, who loves us unconditionally also unconditionally changes us because of, and through that love.

The system of temple sacrifice that had served the Jewish people since before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land said that we all live mired in sin, and that is lessened or alleviated by offering burnt offerings go God. The how and the what of these burnt offerings is given to us in the book of Leviticus.

But Jesus brings a different message. He tells us we are loved of God, loved by God, not just ‘tolerated’ as a “stiff-necked people.” (Ex 33:3b)

At the same time, Jesus tells us to love others as we are loved by God.

He tells us to serve others as a sign of the divine love that comes from God each of us and for all of humanity.

And to be frank, such a shift in how to be a community of believers, how to be followers of Christ, children of God doesn’t sit well with a well hammered out system of temple sacrifice, when burnt offerings aren’t demanded.

Rather as John presents it, we’re being urged to get out of our own heads.

We’re being encouraged to look at the world through our hearts, and to stop overthinking the information that comes through our minds before it can get to our hearts.

Today Jesus tells us that the passion and crucifixion isn’t an ending but rather a new beginning; something revealed dramatically to us on Easter morning, when the women go to the tomb.

Jesus tells us that we know more than we think we do on more subjects than we could have imagined, all because of our association with Jesus, because of our association with the love of God, and the teaching of Jesus found in the gospels.

At the same time, Jesus tells us that we are the ones to carry the love of God into the whole of the world.

We are the ones who bring the love of God to those who still need to hear it, to feel it, to be encouraged to get out of their own heads and into their hearts, where Jesus waits, where God waits to be a part of their lives, as God is a part of our lives, as well.

Jesus starts with the words “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (Jn 14:1a) He starts with a variation of Do Not Be Afraid.

He knows that things are gong to look horrible before the dawn of Easter morning brings a joyful chaos of its own.

He knows our fear will drive us to the ends of our minds, of our hearts, of our logic, as self-preservation strives to take over, when Jesus knows that this is only temporary and the love of God has the ability to change the world, from this day on, forever, as long as we carry that love to the world.

So, today we find Jesus striving, once more to teach, yet, at the same time, to reassure because he knows what’s coming even if we don’t.

These days, we, too, are in between times, when we strive to reassure each other that tomorrow is only going to be better than today. Yet the method of transmission of this message of love and reassurance is the same, from my heart, from your heart, from the hearts of those who believe to the ears and the hearts of those who need to feel the love of God surround them.

Like when we think back to Jesus time with Nicodemus, we skip over the hard parts and always gravitate to John 3:16 “6 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And for the life of me I’ve always wondered why people stopped there? After all, focusing on this just verse alone seems to create limits, to erect barriers where God opens doors and provides means.

When we look at that verse in John 3, we need to include the next verse, which takes down all of the barriers that our minds, our sense of logic puts up. “17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (Jn 3:17)

And we need to take this to heart as well. After all, if Jesus message was for one segment of the human population, only, how is it, then that we are we followers of Christ?

And yet, here we are.

Jesus doesn’t put up barriers, and he asks us to do the same.

The love of God isn’t for one person, one group, but rather for the whole human race. Its uncontrolled love at its finest.

Its our ability to be assured that although we don’t see Jesus among us, that doesn’t mean he’s not here. It doesn’t mean that we’re on our own, rather it emphasizes what he tells us today.

He says: “2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” (Jn 14”2-4)

This isn’t a passage that our heads will ever fully understand, rather its something that appeals to our hearts, and perhaps this is why Thomas and Philip, respectively offer their own questions to try to tease out the logic in something that completely defies human logic.

Thomas ponders: “how can we know the way? … [and] 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father.” (Jn 14:5b, 8a)

But the answers already live in our hearts. They reach out when we find ourselves surrounded by the doubt of the world and they enfold us in the assurance of God’s love.

They help us to reach out when we encounter those who need to feel the love of God in and through their own lives.

Jesus encourages us to feel rather than think, and in all things to trust God.

And really, isn’t that enough?

Amen.

About pastorrebeccagraham

A Lutheran minister serving an Anglican parish in Northern Ontario.
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