The Transition Team met via Zoom on Monday, Grant MacLean led us in a beautiful spiritual grounding session that focused on where we were finding joy these days. That solidifed my nebulous worship plans and gave me a focus! With all that is going on in Nova Scotia, not to mention the rest of the country and the world, I am finding it a challenge to plan worship more than a week in advance these days.
What is noticeable to me these days as I scroll through Facebook or have a pastoral visit over the phone or participate in a Zoom meeting, is how people are loving each other these days. Not just friends and family, but in acts of love towards total strangers.
From the big things like the outpouring of support for the victims of the mass shooting and the military crew who died, to farms like Taproot who will drop off a box of fruit and veggies at no charge to anyone in a 30 mile radius who is food insecure, to people who call others to see if they need groceries picked up. Love is being demonstrated over and over and over. And so, the ‘heart knows the way.’
In this passage from John, Jesus tells the disciples that he is ‘the way, the truth and the life. It’s a pasage that is often read at funerals, speaking of a home with god and how Jesus is preparing a place for us. This is part of what is called the ‘farewell discourse’ given by Jesus on Maundy Thursday.
This passage has sometimes been used to exclude people, as if there is no other path to god except through Jesus. However, if you think about the way Jesus lived… welcoming all… challenging the socual contructs of his time… telling truth to power, we can understand this passage in a more expansive way. Let’s listen, as Jesus reassures, encourages, and challenges his frightened disciples, as it is writtien in John 14:
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Jesus was convinced that the disciples knew the heart of his message. The way, the truth and the life is also a message for us. Three people shared stories of the heart knowing the way, two of them by video, but this one was written, by Grant MacLean:
A Small Gesture Brings Delight and Conversation to a Dartmouth Neighbourhood
A secretive neighbor has been placing decorative stones in home gardens that are located close to the sidewalks on Limardo Drive. This secretive neighbor has placed 15 or so stones in the past three weeks. Janet and I noticed our stone about three weeks ago, and immediately began to wonder – Who placed this? Was it Cindy, Elizabeth, Michelle – No, No, No. They too had stones placed in their gardens. Who was doing this?
One day while I was out in the front yard with our dog, a lady from our neighbourhood stopped, someone I recognized, but I didn’t know her name. She asked me if we liked our decorative stone as I was standing quite close to it. I said to her, “ We really like it. So much we thought of moving it so it wouldn’t go missing. A lot of my neighbours are trying to figure out who placed these.”
She said it was her who had placed the stone. We introduced ourselves to one another and chatted. She stated in our conversation that she hoped the painted stones would bring some delight and joy to many who were now walking the neighbourhood due to different times. She had one request during our conversation. Now that I knew who had placed the stones – “Please don’t share our secret.” She liked the neighbourhood mystery she had created.
I became a “holder of the secret” and you can be assured that generated further conversation in the neighbourhood. I had people coming up to me daily with their guesses. With a smile on my face I would reply, “No, that’s not correct.” Many neighbours wanted hints, they got none.
One day last week I saw her walking with a bag in her hand, it appeared to be weighted. I knew she was placing additional stones. I smiled and waved from across the street. At this moment I felt I was part of the “joy” she was sharing with others as I knew my neighbours would soon realize they now had a stone in their garden.
Stones continue to appear on our street; I believe some in the neighbourhood now know who placed them. The secret may be out, but “Delight” and “Conversation” still can be found as the decorative stones have brought the Limardo community a lot closer during this different time.
(I had two more stories, but the people had made videos and I can’t upload them here.)
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.Your heart knows the way. Thanks be to God for joy, for heart and for each one of you who seeks to live out the way, the truth and the life. Amen.
John 14: 1-14
May 10, 2020 – Stairs Memorial United Church