Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Sunday May 14th 2017 - / John 14: 1-12 / Permanent residence
Sermon – 05,14th, 2017
Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina, SK
Text: John 14:1-12
Theme: Permanent Residence
Intr – Since February, 2017, as you know well, Djenane, Charles, and I are Canadian residents. Three blessed months in the city of Regina, and especially here at Mount Olive. But there is something that must be added to “residents”. And the word is “temporary”. Every six months we will be reminded of that condition and we will have to renew it. Being a temporary resident is to know that in the end of a certain period of time, we are requested to leave the country.
Unless something different happens. Something that could change our status in the land of the living skies. It is called “Permanent residency”. If we become permanent residents of the province, and consequently of the country, we don’t need to leave it anymore.
And how does this process happen? In order to become a permanent resident in Canada, I would say there is a way, a truth and a life.
The WAY – The way to the permanent residency is to apply for it There is a process one must undergo to request a PR status.
The TRUTH – There is a law that regulates the process to which we must abide. The law is the truth for Canada. And we must give truthful information as well. If we fail in that, the law will probably not fail to us. It will come back to bite us and our life here will end.
The LIFE – Also, to be a PR in Canada you must have... a life. You must have a historic record within the borders for a given number of days. You need to adopt Canada as the Country where you want to live permanently.
Now let’s turn to today’s Gospel and take a look on the second verse, where Jesus speaks about the oikia tou patros mou. The House of My Father. He talks about some type of residence. In this case, the House of the Father. But is it a temporary or a permanent place of residence?
There has been some controversy among some biblical exegetes in this point, because oikia, in some contexts, may refer to a place along the road where you stop for a washroom break or refreshments. So maybe Jesus is just referring allegorically to different stages and “stops” we have in life “in our way of becoming better people.”
We need to look into the broader context of the Gospel. Because then we will notice that Jesus had already said, for example, in Chapter 8 that the slaves do not stay in the house forever. But the son does. The son remains in the house forever. So oikia in John seems to point clearly to a Permanent Dwelling we have through Christ.
Who are God’s Sons, God’s Children? When do you become a child of God? (when do you become a PR of your parents’ house)? St. Paul will tell us about the Adoption as Children of God. That’s what happens by faith. God adopts us as His children. We become his.
Now, when we become Children of God, we have our PR in Christ. We know the way... Or do we? Do we really know the way? Because sometimes we need to be reminded of what the way is NOT, so we don’t go with the flow and be led astray. The Way is not:
-Obeying – in the sense that, if I obey, then God will be pleased and I will become his Child. We don’t obey to be children, We obey because we are children. Because we are already on the Way.
-Being Good – not the way at all. But that seems to be what you see all over. Be good so that God will see you as a good person and look upon you with favor. But biblically speaking, you don’t go very far with that.
-“many ways to the same place”. That’s one of the biggest stones to stumble upon. It frequently comes with “Less religion, more faith” type of thing. The ideia is that “Faith is what matters”, while one forgets what kind of faith that is. Also, one breezes over the fact of who was the institution – organized Religion –, with its virtues and its flaws, that by the Grace of God got things worked out to hand down to us what we have, so that we can learn what faith is all about.
Jesus says, “I am the way”. The way, not “a” way. He gives us a Permanent Residence in Heaven.
Then it all comes to how we see Christ. For example:
If you saw a common man in common clothes in the streets of Regina, you wouldn’t give any special attention to him. But if you were told that that guy is one of the members of the royal family, would that change your perception? Would that change your attitude?
If we see Christ just as a good man, a good teacher, a guy who did a great job on teaching how are we supposed to love each other and kicked in some cool illustrations about life and death, that is how we are going to value him, act toward him –even how we will worship him. When by faith we see that he is our King, though, as the way, the truth and the life, that changes our perception. Our attitudes. Our faith life.
A side note - but an important one: Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you”. When did that happen? I always assumed that this took place when he ascended to Heaven. That’s when logically he went to prepare a place for us, eh?. But that may be not accurate. Actually, Jesus prepared and guaranteed a place for us in heaven...on the Cross. That’s why he says, “I go prepare a place for you.” “I am going to the Cross”. As soon as he said “it is finished”, as soon as he raised from the tomb, our permanent residency in heaven was fully assured. We are not left wondering if he Is up there somehow tidying up our place so that if we make it there we have a room. No. It is finished. Done deal. He prepared our place by his death and ressurection. And he continues to keep us in our way to that place through Word and Sacraments, strenghtening our faith.
_It is OURS
Christ provided us, through faith, a permanent residence in heaven. And it is through the Way, the Truth and the Life as well. We need, however to take a look on how it is different from proccess I mentioned in the beginning of the message.
-The way - We don’t apply in order to get in that Way. Jesus is the Way and HE calls us. We don't find Him, he found us.
-The Truth – It is not a mere set of laws thrown together. This truth is different from civil Law. Whereas government laws only accuse and punish, when we speak of God’s word we mean not only his Law but mainly his Gospel of forgiveness and hope in Christ.
-The Life – We don’t need to be in compliance to such and such rule of life and living to be accepted. He is the LIFE. He is our life. We are accepted – and then we put faith into action trying to obey God’s commandments.
BTW - Christ says: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them he is who loves me.” Does that mean that we keep, and then we are loved, or the other way around?
What does a child do in order to become “more child” of their mother? Nothing. It boils down to: whatever the child does is out of the love they already have because they are a child.
Speaking of mother and child, for our family, this is a very special Mother’s Day, since it is the first one with a child in our arms. Charles. He came after 2 miscarriages though. Two losses. Through deep sorrow and pain, we were led to a big joy. Because we were in God’s hands, not ours. And I would like to make a connection here.
As we hear Jesus saying today in the Gospel, “Let not your hearts be troubled”. And then “if you ask me anything in my name, I will do”, it is an important message also for moms and children. Because sometimes we have what I would call “later miscarriages” – problems not with unborn, but with born children and their parents (fights, broken relationships, lack of dialogue, or other things that happen....). Even though those things happen, as children of God we know that we are in God’s hands. Don’t you ever forget that, mom. Jesus carries our sins away so that all of the miscarriages – that is, the losses and sorrows we may have in life may be faced with confidence in Christ, resting in His arms, knowing we are all His children. We don’t need to fight for it, trying to deserve it. It is a gift. We ARE his Adopted beloved Children. We are His. Forever.
Before being a mom, you are a daughter, a child of your beloved Father in heaven, who listens to your prayers, calms your heart down. And you children, too. He will never stop loving you and caring for your life. Even when you are in deep sorrow and pain – I can tell you this for sure. He gets it all together, He will hold your hand and help you all along the way. He wants you to dwell in His eternal residence.
Cc – Dear Friends, God gives us a PR. And we know the Way. And we have the Truth. So we can live our lives with the LIFE – Christ. Through Him, we will dwell in the oikia tou patros mou. The House of My Father. And not in a temporary status. It will be our permanent and eternal residence. That means: Forever. Amen.