Sermons 2005
"The Way, the Truth, and the Life", Easter 5A , 24 April 2005, John 14:1-14

Home | "The One who is coming after me", Advent 2B, 4 December 2005, Mark 1:1-8 | "Stay awake. Be alert" Advent 1B, 27 November 2005, Mark13:24-37 | "Black Hat vs White Hat" Proper 26A, 30 October 2005, Matthew 23:1-12 | "Sheep and Goats -- again!" Proper 29A, 20 November 2005, Matthew 25:31-46 | "The Greatest Commandment" Proper 25A, 23 October 2005 Matthew 22: 34-46 | God and Caesar, Proper 24A, 16 October 2005, Matthew 22:15-22 | The Wedding Banquet, Proper 23A, 9 October 2005, Matthew 22:1-14 | The Landlord and the Tenants, Proper 22A , 2 October 2005, Matthew 21:33-43 | "Who will go?" Proper 21A, 25 September 2005, Matthew 21:28-32 | "The Last shall be first", Proper 20A, 18 September 2005, Matthew 20:1-16 | "Forgiveness, grace, and mercy", Proper 19A, 11 September 2005, Matthew 18:21-35 | "But who do YOU say that I am?" Proper 16A, 21 August 2005, Matthew 16:13-20 | "O God, how can we sing to you...." Katrina Relief, 4 September 2005 | "The kingdom of heaven is like...." Proper 12A, 24 July 2005, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-49a | "The wheat and the tares", Proper 11A, 17 July 2005, Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43 | "Ears to listen", Proper 10A, 10 July 2005, Matthew 15:1-9, 18-23 | "A cup of cold water", Proper 8A, 26 June 2005, Matthew 10:34-42 | "Heseth: lovingkindness, not sacrifice", Proper 5A , 5 June 2005, Matthew 9:9-13; Hosea 6:6 | Trinity: A Theological Exploration, 22 May 2005, Matthew 28:16-20 | The Baptism of Parker Benjamin Throckmorton, Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 2005 | "Receive the Holy Spirit" Pentecost , 15 May 2005, John 20: 19-23 | "Unity or schism?" Easter 7A, 8 May 2005, John 17:1-11 | "Abide in me", Easter 6A, 1 May 2005, John 15:1-8 | "The Way, the Truth, and the Life", Easter 5A , 24 April 2005, John 14:1-14 | "Saint Thomas the Doubter", Easter 2A, 3 April 2005, John 20:19-31 | "The Lord is Risen Indeed!", Easter A , 27 March 2005, Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-18 | "The Shadow of the Cross", Passion Sunday A, 20 March 2005, Matthew 26:36-27:66 | Raising of Lazarus", Lent 5A, 13 March 2005, Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-44 | "Who are the blind?" Lent 4A, 6 March 2005, John 9:1-38 | "Water and Living Water", Lent 3A, 27 February 2005, John 4:5-42 | Baptized and Born Again", Lent 2A, 20 February 2005, John 3:1-17 | Temptation and the Kingdom of God, Lent 1A, 13 February 2005, Matthew 4:1-11 | "'Tis good to be here, " Epiphany Last A, 6 February 2005, Matthew 17:1-9 | "Follow me!" Epiphany 3A, 23 January 2005, Matthew 4:12-23 | "Come and See!" Epiphany 2A, 16 January 2005, John 1:29-41 | The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours, Epiphany 1A, 9 January 2005, Matthew 3:13-17 | Christmas 2A: The Tsunami, God, and our Neighbor", Matthew 2, 2 January 2005 | Next Sunday to be posted soon

Easter 5A 2005 John 14:1-14

Our gospel passage for today is the one most often read as part of the burial office for Episcopalians and for funerals in other denominations. “Let not your hearts be troubled” reads the lovely King James Bible; that sounds better always to my ear than the newer “Do not let your hearts be troubled” of the New Revised Standard and New International Version.

Familiarly known primarily as the many mansions passage from the King James: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” – mansions has a more glorious ring than mere dwelling places or rooms, don’t you think? This is a passage full of hope and joy for sad occasions – not just burials. It is a message of hope and joy and reassurance to Christians at any time but also very good therapeutic reading when one is down for whatever reason.

This passage also sets forth one of the basic tenets of Christian faith and practice: In the interchange between Jesus and Saint Thomas the Doubter, Jesus responds definitively. Listen to it first in the Greek:
Legei autw Ihsous egw h odos kai h alhqia kai h zwe.. oudeis ercetai pros ton partera ei mh di emou.

Don’t you feel the power in the ancient koine Greek words however little we might understand them exactly? I always feel a thrill when I hear the words of the original language either aloud or in my mind’s ear. Now in English again: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.””

The way: Hay hodos. Omicron delta omicron sigma. Looks like it would be pronounced odos but it isn’t. Our word odometer comes from it and metron -- an ancient Greek unit of measurement. Our metric units of distance measurement – meter, kilometer, for example, are based on that. In its most literal sense, Hodos means anything from narrow path to road to major highway.

Jesus and his disciples used all of these ways on their journey to Jerusalem. It is a distinctive character of the Gospel narratives that Jesus and his band led a life of constant wandering during His earthly ministry, ending in Jerusalem. (1)

We use the English word way -- W A Y – to have almost as many shades of meaning as hodos did in ancient times. Take losing one’s way, for example. At its simplest level that means getting lost on one’s way to somewhere else, as in taking the wrong route instead of the right one. When I first came to this part of the Northern Neck almost twelve years ago – and it will be twelve on May 8 – I lost my way many times on the back roads that lead to the heads of our lanes. And before E911 put the little blue and white signs with our house numbers, I almost invariably lost my way when there were multiple dwellings – most of them looked like mansions to me back then and many still do. I almost always would go to the wrong house unless the directions included color or some other distinguishing feature.

I have to say that my way eventually, at the age of 51, to seminary, ordination, and here, was filled at times with roads taken and not taken, things done and left undone.

One can lose one’s way emotionally and spiritually as well, using the same language of directions and travel measurement. Haven’t you heard it said of someone who went bad that “they took a wrong turn somewhere”?

Many of us go through the dark night of the soul – perhaps only once for some but several times for others. We feel somehow that we’ve lost our way somehow and are wandering lost in the dark and don’t know where or how to turn toward the light. Except for those who are afflicted with clinical depression and/or a hyperactive guilt complex the dark night soon ends in a new dawn, with things taking a better turn, and we have found our way again.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” said Jesus to doubting Thomas. The sequence, the order, in which Jesus said way, truth, and life cannot be accidental. How can doubting Thomas or any of us know the truth unless we know the way to it, know the way to get it. And when we have the way and the truth, then and only then, can we have the heavenly life as Jesus meant it.

I personally think that the way to the truth may differ for each of us. And I have always been suspicious those who declare that they alone have the truth and unless it is exactly like theirs, you are outcast. Certainly the Lord who loves us despite ourselves hasn’t revealed himself to me in that way. We are all on our separate and together pilgrim journeys which unfold in their turnings in vary different ways; we are all seekers of the truth and the truth is shaped in part by the twisting and turning of the way we took toward it.

That is not to say that this is an unimportant creedal statement; it is. Whenever in the Gospels Jesus says “Ego Aimi” -- I Am – that means, look out, wake up and pay attention, this is important. It also relates back to Moses and the burning bush on Mount Sinai, when Moses asks Go who he is and God answers with the Tetragrammaton, “I am who I am, I will be who I will be.” Ego aimi – this is Jesus speaking with the divine voice.

And Jesus is speaking with the metaphor of the human life, the metaphor of the Christian journey for the followers of the way. In John’s Gospel it is about how the disciples are to cope when he is gone, what way their Christian journeys are to take; what way they are to follow on their missionary travels. (1)

And it speaks to us across the years. Jesus tells us to be of good hope. “Fear not little flock”, he said once: “But rather seek ye first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:31-32)

Jesus tells us that the things temporal should not bother us. Follow the way into the truth and life, however that way is revealed to you. It really doesn’t matter who is elected bishop or pope, president or king. Follow me. Keep your eye on me and your mind on mission – and there you will find the kingdom of God all around you.


1. Kittel, TDNT, V, 65, 78

Wicomico Parish Church, Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579