Daily Devotion 24 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

John 14:1-7 ‘Jesus the Way to the Father’

1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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.  4 And you know the way to the place 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 except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

I took this photo above of The Pembroke Way, or to give it its proper title, The Pembrokeshire Coast Path. In 2011, National Geographic named it the the second-best long-distance trail in the world! I’ve only walked a relatively small part of it, but it made me think of the risen Jesus’ words to his disciples: “I am the way, the truth and the life”.

Now, some Christians have suggested that this means Christian exclusivity, that all others bar Christians are doomed to eternity. When we engage in dialogue with people of other faiths, that kind of narrowness is far from helpful – even though I would cling to the uniqueness and utter importance of God revealed in his Son Jesus Christ. My reading of the Gospel passage above, however (which I’ve always read at funeral services, incidentally), and my understanding of Christ and of the context in which those words were spoken, has led me to a simple conclusion: Jesus didn’t mean exclusivity at all. He was a Jew himself! Rather, having said “I am the Way” he was saying, “No-one comes to the Father but by living this way, leading this kind of life”. It isn’t a declaration of religious or cultural narrowness but a universal moral call: live like this – a life of self-giving, of openness and acceptance, of vulnerable love.

Why? Because this is the Christ who dared to tell a story in which a Jew got beaten up on a dangerous road and received no help from those who might be regarded as his “own kind” – not even from the church, but from a member of a race hated by Jews: a Samaritan. That story declares (as do so many others in the New Testament), that all people, those different from us, whether of class, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or other attitudes are all under God’s love and care and mercy. And, praise be, so are we. In the Father’s house are many dwelling places, there’s a place for all.

Prayer:

Loving God, forgive us if sometimes we forget that
‘there’s a wideness in your mercy like the wideness of the sea’,
and that ‘we make your love too narrow by false limits of our own.’
Help us to remember that Jesus is risen for all,
and that he is the Saviour of all.
May we share your love with all whom we meet, in gentleness, patience and compassion –
for the sake of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reflection, Image and Prayer © 2021 Barrie Tabraham.
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All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356