"I am going to prepare a place for you." - Jesus: (John 14:2)
This is a great scripture to read on a Sunday! For me, going to worship with my church family is a lot like getting a glimpse of the place Jesus said he was getting ready for us. I know there's going to be worship there; I know the people I love will be gathered around; I know that the atmosphere will be full of creativity, joy, unconditional love and unqualified hope; I know that its going to be the kind of place where I can be honest and grow in faith.... That's my church in a nutshell!
Jesus was not about to leave his disciples without some kind of comforting word. He may have stressed the fact that a life of faith has its roots in our earthly experience, but he also takes the time to assure his followers that there is continuity from this life to the next.
It must have been hard for Christ's friends to grasp ideas that were not consistent with their experience of the physical, temporal world as they knew it. It's something that is equally difficult for us today.
We have developed a world view so dependant on the laws of science as we understand them that we often attempt to explain absolutely everything within those fairly narrow parameters.
Our knowledge, though, is far from boundless. The Hubble Telescope, for example, may answer a lot of questions when it peers into previously unseen regions of space... but for every ten questions it answers a hundred new ones are posed. Yet we talk as if the Creator of everything is constrained to live and operate within the boundaries of our limited understanding! And then so many of us make the curious logical leap of suggesting that - if we cannot prove God within such constraints - then God must not exist at all.
The great eleventh century theologian and philosopher, Anselm, proposed a definition that described God as "Greater than the greatest thought we can utter." In other words, inasmuch as we presume to define God, we have necessarily limited God. When we try to force God into a box small enough for us to understand, then we have effectively put ourselves in the role of creator and reduced God to an easy to handle construct...
And so when Jesus, God Incarnate, told his friends "I am going to prepare a place..." helping us understand our relationship to the divine, then these are words that we can trust, words that bridge the gap between our limitations as mortals and the sense of the eternal that is so impossible to grasp.
Jesus, Son of the Living God, is preparing a place for me! One day we will all be able to caste off all the limitations that define human experience, and we will understand what it means to live in more complete relationship to God.
PRAYER: Creator God, thank you for your words of reassurance and comfort. You are most certainly a God of great and generous love. Amen