To help us remember that in our Father’s house there are many dwellings, we can make a name-plate for our doors there (and in the mean-time, we can use them at our earthly home, too).
You will need:
- Cardboard, cut to size
- Hot-glue gun – or –
- PVA glue and string
- Thick foil
- ‘Sharpie’ markers
Write your name on the card and go over the line with hot glue or with PVA glue and string.
Cover the card with foil and press it carefully around the raised lines.
Colour the flat areas with permanent markers (leave the raised lines silver).
I have no intention of trying to add anything to the beautiful words of today’s passage. Instead, let me tell you a story.
My eldest children are only 15 months apart, so when they were young I had a double pram. I chose the band-new fore-and-aft design which had the wonderful property of being able to go through doors, unlike the side-by-side styles available at the time. The only problem was that it was very long, so opening doors was still a bit tricky.
One day I was in town with my daughters and we needed food. I mentally listed all the food places and crossed off:
- all the ones where a one-year-old and a two-year-old would be frowned upon,
- all the ones with steps,
- all the ones with crowded tables,
- all the ones with no toilets,
- all the ones with loud coffee machines / stylish tall stools / tiny portions of expensive cakes
- and all the ones whose idea of a children’s menu was a half-portion of ‘Seared Hand-Dived Scallops nestling on a bed of Jerusalem Artichokes and Raspberry Jus’. (Ok, there weren’t any of those, not where I live. But you get the idea.)
Having crossed every known eatery off my list I sighed and headed for home, safe in the knowledge that there, at least, I would not face tutting and ‘looks’ from the other diners.
And then I walked past Jenny’s Cafe.
As I hesitated at the door, wondering whether the struggle to open it would be worth the possibility of not being rejected, a member of staff opened it for me, helped me in with my pram, replaced two chairs with high chairs and gave my children cheery menus complete with puzzles.
…. and breathe.
It was almost as if they were waiting for me (and not in a creepy “I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond” kind of way.) They had a place prepared for me, and it felt like home. It was OK for us to be us there. I didn’t have to try to hush the kids so as not to annoy people. I didn’t have to apologise for needing a high chair and I didn’t need explain why my children were not the best behaved in the universe.
“I go to prepare a place for you”, and it’s OK to be you.
Forgive us when we fail to make our churches in to homes.
Forgive us when we tut and look and secretly think, “They don’t know how to behave in church”.
Forgive us when we bolster our own security by emphasising the ‘other’ness of others.
Forgive us when we focus on what divides.
Forgive us when we cannot see beyond our self-made rules to people for whom you died.
And help us
John 14:1-14 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 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? 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. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 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.’
Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 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”? 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. 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. 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. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me[e] for anything, I will do it.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.