theunfamiliarname

Homily for Easter 5A

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

House moving.

Most of us have done it.  The hassle, the upheaval.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that
more than one of us has probably
at some stage procrastinated,
put off taking on a new opportunity
simply because of that sheer inertia of being settled,
and the horror of moving house.

But do you remember the other side of it,
before the moving truck catches up with you?
Can you recapture the feeling
when you stood in a new room, yet to be furnished?
A world of space and possibility.

Do you remember, like I do,
running as a child from room to open room,
simply soaking up the space and wonder of it all?
A manic kitten in a new and vast open space?
A little vision of heaven?
A house with many dwelling places,
many nooks and crannies for a young heart to embrace.

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”
But when we’re a little bit older,
when the reality of moving’s
not always something that fills you with enthusiasm,
that open room, that space can look a little different.
Daunting. Depressing.

A sign of work yet to be done, of corners to be filled,
shelves to be arranged
and boxes upon boxes to be unpacked.

An empty room from this perspective
isn’t always such a thing of joy and wonder.

And if our moving house
is part of our adjusting to new circumstances
– through changed employment, through retirement,
through ended relationships, through bereavement:
how much more can that be daunting and disheartening?
How much more are we aware
of the emptiness that confronts us?

We are still in the season of Easter.
Of new life and new possibilities and hope renewed and joy
and our identity rediscovered.
But how often do we find that, hard on the heels
of the Day of Resurrection,
we are roughly shaken back
by our encounters or emotions or experiences,
by disaster or disappointment or depression,
and it could be almost as if
that early morning at the empty tomb has yet to happen.

It is perfectly possible to find ourselves
somewhere that feels and looks a lot like Good Friday,
even as the Alleluias of our faith and life still ring in the air.

And that can make it all feel a bit hollow.
That can make us feel a bit hollow.

It can seem as though the new and empty rooms
of our elation, even the empty tomb itself,
have become the strangely hollow
disconnected world of some sort of after-Easter blues.

Where we just know we’ve heard the good news,
that we’ve got the picture, that we’ve travelled through
the mystery of Cross and Resurrection,
and we know that makes us different, but – well –
somehow it hasn’t made things around us different.
Thomas and Philip this morning speak for us in that place

Their words are before the Cross and Resurrection,
part of Jesus’ leaving,
but we hear them today knowing the Resurrection story,
part of our living as an Easter people.
“Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?”
“Show us the Father”

And the response we receive back is very simple:
“You know me. Believe me.”

“You know me. Believe me.”
The invitation to a mature and honest relationship.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life”.
You may not think you know where you’re going,
but you do know me.  Let that be enough.

That’s a pretty big ask.
Trusting God – trusting anyone – is a huge step
in the development of that relationship.  It’s hard.

It’s much easier to ‘believe’
in an abstract concept called “God”
than to take the bungee jump of faith that Jesus suggests.
“Believe”, he says, “in God”.
But “believe also in me”,
the Word made flesh, dwelling among you.

“Believe” in this case, meaning “trust”.

Trust leaves us open to confronting
the clash between the worlds of our expectation
and our experience.
Trust means accepting
that we don’t always know where we’re going,
but we do paradoxically know the way.
That we’re open to what God might be doing in our lives.

Trust is such a fragile flower.
It will not bloom overnight.
This is a life’s work.
It is our life’s truth.
It is the way of the disciple.

Our way, our truth and our life
are caught up in developing
and deepening a trust in God.
A trust that can let us discern,
as we stand on the doorstep of each new dwelling place
– fully furnished or empty as anything –
a trust that can let us discern
how this place has been prepared for us,
and how we have been made ready for it,
and that, above all, we are not alone,
in our wonder or our despondency.

For wherever my journey to God takes me –
whatever pathways, whatever is truth and life for me –
there is Christ, my way, my truth, my life.

A number of the Easter stories
are centred on the recognition of Christ.
Where once only emptiness was,
comes the recognition of Jesus
as friend and companion on the journey, and as Lord.
Let us hope to grow in our trust
and through that in our recognition of God
in our after-Easter time.

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