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John 14:1-14

The Rev. Jon Roberts

10 May


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who 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 in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.


The New Jerusalem by Alexander Sorsher, 1950-Present

The way, the truth and the life.
No one gets delivered without the love of God.[1]

In a mother’s womb were two babies. The first baby asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The second baby replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?” “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.” The doubting baby laughed. “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.”The second baby held his ground. “I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.” The first baby replied, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.” “Well, I don’t know,” said the twin, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.” “Mother?” The first baby guffawed. “You believe in mother? Where is she now?” The second baby calmly and patiently tried to explain. “She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.” “Ha. I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.” To which the other replied, “Sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her. I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality when it comes….”[2]

Every so often, Mother’s Day falls on the lectionary scriptural selection that is apparently more fitting for Father’s Day, John 14. “In my father’s house there are many mansions/dwelling places”; “No one comes to the Father except through me,” and as the disciples asked, “Show us the Father.”[3] This would be a perfect time for Mary, the Mother of Jesus to enter and say something. Then we would see the Father and Mother; heaven and earth come together as one. The parable of the two babies, talking in the mother’s womb, by Henri Nouwen, personifies how children are always wondering about things they cannot see. The Father or the Mother will be able to reveal the mystery. Like two babies in the womb, you can tell that Thomas and Philip, in this scene are wrestling with what happens after delivery. What will happen when we die. John 14 is the most widely used text of scripture for funerals. A time of death, but also a time for new birth. Heaven is for real, but how do we know? This is where the mother is especially important.

The mother repeats the language of love so that we can make a safe passage of delivery into this world. It comes from her singing. Lullabies, such as “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” “Hush little baby,” and “Rock a-bye baby,” according to a study by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, comfort both mama and baby. They benefit the infant’s development and enhance positive emotion. Laura Cirelli, from the University of Toronto says, “Music is a tool that we can use to bring people together, and this starts at infancy.”[4] But Laura, it is far more than a tool. It is a message. When Jesus tells his disciples they can be with the Father if they simply spend the present time with him, they will hear this eternal message. It is a simple message of another lullaby that goes, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” Mothers give life, or should I say, they give physical life, transferred from the spiritual life that is conceived in heaven.

Furthermore, from God, the Son we have the Way. From God, the Father we have the Truth and from God, the Holy Spirit, we have the Life. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps chant a familiar psalm, or a hymn we love dearly, it reminds us of that time in the womb. A place where we lie in wait, wondering what the next place will be like. Some people doubt there is anything next. It’s sad to witness the still-born, as one who forgets to listen or believe in the lullaby of God’s unfailing love. Is that what it is like for us today? Are we in some type of earthly womb, wondering what appendages of the soul, perhaps the mind and body, will be used in heaven?

Maybe this is all part of God’s design, that we are given this message at the very moment of our delivery into the womb, and later, our delivery into the New Jerusalem, that place we call heaven. Mothers are the chosen vessels to give life and to nurture life so that there will be an abundance of life. Jesus said, where I am there will be the Father. Perhaps both Father and Mother are held together, where heaven and earth are united for the Gospel message to resound and nurture all creation. It is the ancient lullaby that continues to be delivered to us by those who care. We cannot be born into heaven without this understanding of the source of life. May we all know the way, the truth and the life so that we live in the One, who looks forward to seeing us before and after our delivery.

[1] Revision on John 14:1-14 by The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift, A meditation on dying and caring, Harper One, 2009, pp. 18-19.
[3] John 14:1-14

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