Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Last month, both my wife, Pat, and I, and our daughter, Allison, and her husband, Sam, purchased homes. Pat and I still live in the house we purchased in 1979, but Sam and Allison have sold their former Home Place dwelling and now reside, with new baby, Josie, in a house near 52nd Street and Lafayette Road, on Indy’s west side.
The purchase of both of these homes was all about relationships. Allison and Sam, then looking forward to a relationship with their first child, needed a bigger place to accommodate their growing family.
Pat and I liked the floor plan and the neighborhood of the house we purchased, and we like that it’s just a nine minute drive to Allison and Sam and baby, Josie – we can keep a close relationship with them.
Jesus, as you know, had a close relationship with his disciples. What he told them was that they were a part of his family. He was his Father’s Son, and they were his brothers and sisters. Jesus told them that the Father God had opened his house to them, and Jesus himself would make sure that each of them had a place.
Likewise, Jesus has prepared a place for each of us. The day will come when this house we call our body will no longer be our home. On that day we will have to move. On that day, we will leave our earthly homes, our bodies, and move into eternity. Jesus has already made a place available for us. Have you made your reservation?
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus knew the importance of having a place to call your own.
When a would-be follower said that he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Even the creatures of the wild have homes, rooms to call their own, but Jesus knew his life on earth was temporary. To follow him, you have to give up any feeling of permanence. He was now telling his disciples not to be troubled by his impending departure because he was going on ahead to get things ready and he would return for them.
When we were growing up, it was important to have a place where we could go just to “chill out.” It was usually our bedroom, a refuge where we could get away from the rest of the world. It was the place where we could rest and reflect upon whatever was going on in our lives.
That room probably mirrored a lot about who we were. The pictures or posters that we put on the wall showed our particular interests. The furniture and the way that we arranged it might have exhibited our personalities and our priorities.
Was the bed the focal point, or was it the desk? Was it the closets full of clothes and dressers that stood out, or the presence of a television, computer, or radio? Maybe we shared a room with a sibling, so that two people had to inter-mingle their particular styles of comfort and living.
No matter what your room was like, it was yours, and there was no place like your room. And just as important as it is to have your own place now, so Jesus wants us to know that we will always have a place waiting for us in his Father’s house.
Jesus consoles his disciples by describing a place that is inviting and comforting. He wants them to feel welcome there as part of the family of God. You, too, are to feel welcome.
Jesus has customized your place especially for you. He wants it ready for when you walk through that door – because when you go at last to that place, you will take nothing with you. But don’t worry; Jesus knows what we really need. Whether it’s in this world or the next, he knows what’s best for us.
We can trust that when we walk into our Father’s house, we’ll feel right at home. It will not only reflect who we were, but who we have become. Likely for most of us, there will be many aspects of our old place that we will not be sad to leave behind.
One day a pastor’s son proudly announced to his mother, “I’ve decided that I want to be a pastor so I can help clean up the mess this world is in.” “Why, that’s just wonderful,” his mother said, giving him a great big hug. “Why not go upstairs right now and start with your own room?”
We spend much of our lives cleaning up our rooms, both literally and figuratively. Our lives have a tendency to get messy. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus has the patience to help us clean up. Like a parent directing her or his children, Jesus showed his disciples how to clean up their lives.
But, like children, they were slow to learn, often stubborn and disobedient. Jesus’ preparation of our heavenly place begins long before we enter it. It likely began when we were baptized into the Christian faith. It continued as we grew to know and understand Jesus’ teachings, and will continue until the day we finally go home.
Your whole life could be viewed as moving between many different places. Some are like hotel rooms. Your stay is very short because you are just traveling through. Some are like classrooms. We’re there to learn, and then move on. Some are like hospital rooms, places where we go when we need healing. But none of them is permanent. None of them is home.
A story told about the great physicist, Albert Einstein, begins with him riding a train and being preoccupied with his work. When the train conductor stops to punch his ticket, the great scientist began rummaging through his pockets, checking his briefcase, and looking all around him somewhat bewildered.
Einstein couldn’t find his ticket. “That’s okay,” the conductor said. “We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.” The conductor went about his business, punching other tickets. But then he turned to see Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees looking under his seat and around the floor, obviously still looking for the lost ticket.
By this time, the conductor felt pity for the great man, and walked back and gently said, “Dr. Einstein, please ... don’t worry about it. I know who you are.” Obviously perturbed, Einstein looked up and said, “I also know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going!”
Some of us don’t know where we’re going. It’s like we have a key to a door, but we don’t know where the door leads. What good does it do us if we have a place waiting for us, but we don’t know where it is, or how to get there?
Like Thomas, we might cry out: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus says that he is the way through the door. We know two solid truths about life. First, you are born; then you die. We don’t know everything that’s going to happen in between. And we don’t know what to expect on the other side of that door.
This is where it all comes down to trusting Jesus. He says that he is the truth. He won’t lie to us. He won’t deceive us. He tells us that he has a place for us in eternity. If he didn’t have a place for us, he would tell us just that.
Our only preparation is faith – faith that what Jesus did when he died on the cross erased our sins forever and created the way to eternal life with his Father and our Creator.
The places we now live in will one day crumble and fall. They weren’t made to last forever. But the place that Jesus has prepared for us on the other side of the door to eternal life is permanent. It will last forever, and we will never tire of what it has to offer.
Have you ever taken a trip and not made reservations for a place to stay? You assumed that when you got to your destination there would be a place for you. But perhaps when you arrived, you discovered that there were no vacancies, and you were shut out. That’s poor planning, poor preparation.
But you can trust that Jesus has prepared your place in eternity. It’s a deluxe accommodation and has everything you will ever need. Make the reservation – you do so by living in Christ today. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus forever. Amen.