Jesus the Way

5th Sunday of Easter
Jesus the Way!

Acts 7:55-60 
Ps 31:1-5,15-16 
1 Pet 2:2-10 
John 14:1-14 

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Alleluia! John 14: 6

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

To all the mothers, Happy Mother’s Day! Make sure all your children and mokopuna spoil you today as you all deserve it. Especially with everything you do and then some! Let them show you how grateful they really are for all that you do for them. 

Well whanau, I’m not sure when we will be back at Te Wairua Tapu but it’s looking like July at this stage. So I wonder how you will be feeling after hearing Jesus say, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ That’s our gospel for today.

Usually this text and gospel passage from John is often used at tangihanga. I’m sure you, like me, have heard these words on numerous occasions, even I recite them. Why? Because death troubles our hearts and we see the pain, the suffering and the grief whanau go through when they lose a loved one so we try to offer them spiritual comfort, strength and stability between life and death. Most receive the word and it calms their mind, body and souls. For some, the grief is to overwhelming and they don’t hear the word so their hearts remain troubled but that’s okay. I always hope and pray that over time God heals their pain and grief. 

But today’s gospel not only speaks to us in a time of mourning but it has something to say right here and right now. It’s speaks to the very circumstances that trouble our hearts. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate when we first entered isolation. Instead it shows up today. You see, context is everything. This passage comes on the night of the last supper. Jesus has announced his upcoming death, washed his disciples paru feet, Judas has left the table to betray him and Jesus points out that Peter will deny him three times. Thomas is lost. “How can we know the way?” And Philip can’t see what’s right in front of him. “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied”. They have all lost sight of Jesus straight after he tells them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” 

See how easy it is for us to get lost? We are no different from the disciples! Jesus says to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” And yet our hearts are troubled, not only when we lose loved ones but right now. Come on Jesus, can’t you see what’s happening in our lives and our world? Everything has been turned upside down! We’ve been isolated and disconnected, we’ve had to do things we never dreamed we had to do, our futures look bleak, many of our people are unemployed with no access to government support, huge loss of life globally, especially within the most disproportionate communities, when can we go back to karakia and the pain goes on. What are we supposed to do? Where do we turn too? 

In the midst of all this trouble, the question we need to be asking ourselves is this; will we hold on or is everything collapsing around us? Like the disciples, their world was collapsing and so it has been for us over the past two months. We have faced so much instability and chaos and it’s not over yet. We have gone looking over there and over there and we keep on looking for that elusive mana to fix everything up. You know it and I know it. But it’s okay because you will come back to the same spot. Like I have constantly said, don’t move, be still and wait. Jesus knows that our hearts are troubled. He’s not warning us about a future condition. He can see it in us now.

You see, dealing with a troubled heart begins with looking into our own hearts and seeing and naming what really troubles us? That means facing our selves, our lives and our world. Jesus knows this and we don’t like doing it. It’s too hard and too painful. It takes us to close to the edge of the unknown and the fear of a free fall into a collapsing life and a collapsing world. “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Thomas speaks for us all. At this point, we’ve lost our centre. God and Jesus Christ. But from my own faith journey and experience in life, sometimes we have to lose our centre in order to find it. It’s a part of life. It’s a part of being human. Sometimes it comes out of circumstances we didn’t create or choose. Other times it’s a consequence of our choices or actions. Regardless, Jesus says that is not a place to stay or a way to live. It’s not the life he lives or the life he offers us.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ That is the core of our faith. If your heart is troubled then it’s time to re-centre. It’s time to realise that you are not the centre but God is. Therefore, do not be afraid of what is happening around you, yes, there will be times where our hearts will be troubled but allow God to truly see who you really are. Don’t fear being exposed to God. It is the very place where you will find the person you are truly meant to be. And that is the biggest fear we have. Yet, Jesus continues to show us the way.

When this happens, maybe you and I will better understand Jesus when he says, ‘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.’ 

Back to God our centre through Jesus Christ. Amen.

God of truth, hidden force of all creation, you long to set us free. Confront us with your tenderness,  fire us with your justice; that, at your coming, we too may set the world alight. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu