In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus, reassuring the disicples telling them, “do not let your hearts be troubled,” he speaks of going to prepare a place and that they know the place he is talking of, with Thomas asking where that is, Jesus responding with “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus continues by expressing his unity with God, saying that the words he speaks he does not speak on his own and that it is the Father who dwells in him who does his works – he calls the disciples to believe because of the works. Jesus also declares that the one who believes will also do the works and in fact will do greater works.
Jesus declares that he is the way, in fact the disciples where originally known as people of the way. This image of Jesus being the way is best understood when we understand that Jesus spoke of going the way before he spoke of being the way. This is not just a statement of destination but also of the route, Jesus is speaking about where he was going in contexts that mention the prospects of arrest and the coming hour of passion. Jesus is going the way of the cross, it is the way of crucifixion and resurrection that will lead to the destination – but of course non of this was understood until after the Easter event – this is the beginning of Jesus’ final discourse, it was the beginning of his departure.
The term “The Way” – it was a term used for paved roads that linked cities carrying a steady stream of travellers, soldiers and merchants across the Roman empire, it was a term used for dirt paths that meandered from one village to another and metaphorically a term for the way of life – so in reality there is not too much difference to how we would understand it today really!
We are all people on the way, because the way is not purely about the destination but also the journey, the route we take. For those of us in Church we have committed to the way of Christ but I wonder if we have ever thought about how costly that way is or what that way really looks like.
As I was preparing I heard Pink playing on the TV, the song was called f#*king perfect the video showed a teenage girl growing in a world where popular media has set the benchmark of what teenage girls should look like, how they should act – but this girl is struggling – Pinks words in her chorus are “pretty pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re less than perfect, pretty , pretty please if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing, You’re perfect to me!” I thought about how many young girls are listening to this and possibly how alien or unheard of Pink’s music might be among the church population, especially when most of her music has expletives in – but then I thought about how much comfort that song would bring to so many teenage girls struggling in our community and society – struggling with their weight, their appearance, the general heartache that comes with the way of being a teenage girl in the 21st century. I wondered how we as people of the way of Christ speak into the lives of teenage girls – do we offer words of if you ever feel less than perfect, ever feel like you are nothing, you’re perfect to me, to God – even in those less than perfect moments when their actions may be far from what we expect or hope they should be! I thank God, as a parent of 2 teenage girls, for the artists that brought comfort to the girls in the time when “mum you just don’t understand!”
I thought about the world in which we live and the way that is perceived to be the best way forward, very often based on achievements and success, consumerism and materialism. I thought about the way good “Christian” people are perceived or understood to be and thought well it is no wonder there are so many people that refer to Christian’s as hypocrites – when in reality we are just human beings struggling on the journey of life!
There are so many paths that we can take with the promised destination being a happy one! The Way of Christ is one of many today and it’s one that gets absolutely slated quite often and when we see billboards carrying a “Christian message” declaring the end of the world on 21st May, or we read of Jesus and Mary Magdalene living happily in Kingaroy I think it’s understandable people are a bit stand offish! I think the challenge for each of us is to think about what it means for us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and what it means for our lives and the way we live!
The Way that we are called to is the way of Christ, the Father was revealed through the words and works of Christ – the words were words of truth, compassion, love and justice, the works were of truth, compassion, love and justice. In this reading Jesus is offering reassurance in the face of his departure, he will prepare a place, a time is coming and is already present when those who believe will have eternal life – believing enables the disciples to do the works, in fact greater works – Jesus departure brought with it a new era!
Cue, Easter people of the 21st Century – we are Easter people in this time and place, we are the people of the Way to the people we meet and engage with – we are the people who once we declare our belief may very well be faced with questions about refugees, war on terror, and where would the church be without questions about sexuality, the youth of today – how do we or will we engage with these questions? Will we have a blanket response or will we wrestle with the Easter message and the words and works of Christ to help us respond? Will we remember that we are presented perfect because of Christ, not because we are!
Jesus offered a new and different notion of what it means to be a powerful person – it is the power to serve, not master; to die but not kill, to bring order but not dominate – it is a way that involves a radical break from the gods of achievement and success, materialism and consumerism, the Easter message is a way that introduces upheaval into every “business as usual” situation!
Jesus creates crisis with the authorities because he transcends the rules of the scribes who manage the tax system, the priests who manage the rituals and the Pharisees who manage morality. The scriptures are the living word of God, relevant to our time, tradition is something that is passed on not something that is static never moving or changing, the message of Christ is still radical – the thing is the message relies on each of us who shares the message.
I will share my responses to the questions; to refugees I say all people have a right to be safe and live free from harm, to the war on terror I say violence has never brought peace, to people in same sex relationships, I say you are created in the image of God with a God given desire to love and be in relationship, to the youth of today I say I don’t get Lady Gaga, but Pink rocks – I’m listening help me get it! But overall, I say we are all on the same journey that’s called life is there any way we can travel together?