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Born a Texan, but traveled the US extensively.  Now staying on the East coast.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

what else was on my mind - another sermon

The sermon has been on my mind since Sunday, so a bit of a prefaces is needed...
I grew up an only child, with a room of my own and was very possessive about it,
but there was something always in the back of my mind (or heart) that it was all only temporary.
I loved to build sandcastles for that reason.
I do not have an answer, but as an adult, thing were very different and i shared my space continually,
well because i live in a Christian community and we hold all things together
and more so i felt that what i have is so i can share.
Now the sermon tells a still stronger story and i look forward to a day that i can have my own space....to the sermon

Easter 5
Mother’s Day
John 14:1-14
          Jesus Christ assures you and me of a room. Our destiny is guaranteed. We don’t have to phone ahead or take out a mortgage.
          Some time ago my wife looked up one Sunday afternoon and proclaimed, “I want a room of my own!” This was not a dainty suggestion or a reflective whimper. This was straight from her gut and reached right back to when women kicked aside the bones in the cave she shared with her Neanderthal husband and pet brontosaurs.
          Haven’t you ever felt that way? Have you not known an instinctive claim of entitlement for your own space, your own abiding place, your own spot? Parents sometimes forget this need for a room. When their son or daughter goes off to college they want to rush in and rake out their offspring’s room, hose it down, and truck in a dumpster to take away all the “junk” their kid acquired. Woe to the parent who doth such heinous deed” Kids know that a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. If cleanliness and godliness are connected, then they will opt for ungodliness. Their room embodies their way of life. Here they tell the truth to themselves, and discover the truth about themselves. Here they have their being and find their life. Wasn’t that true for you? It may not have been your bedroom. It may have been a corner of the cellar or the garage, or a seat near a window or your side of the bed. It was your spot (Almost as hallowed as the spot in the pew where you sit every Sunday, and which you staked out eons ago). It was your spot, your room. You defined your room and your room defined you.
          Isn’t that true even now for you? My wife has her spot at her desk in the middle of the family room. But her real “abiding place”, her room, is the right-hand side of our king-sized bed, to which she retires and religiously reads for an hour 356 days of the year, as she has for 56 years. Women, I think, have a greater sense of an abiding place than do men. Although, I would literally go crazy if I did not have my own study and office, where I can physically as well as mentally deal with the way I am and what is true and false and what it is that is in regard to life.
          As you have probably guessed by now, this sermon is about rooms, women (mothers especially), and Jesus. The woman I want to talk about for a few minutes is not my wife, but my mother. For in thinking about today’s lectionary Gospel, I kept thinking about my mother, and I realized that whenever I think about her I visualize her in the context of a room. And in a sense there was a room, which identified or defined, each stage of her life.
          The earliest stories she used to tell me about herself were of her playing as a child high up in the turret of a large Victorian house in Rockford, Illinois. For hours on end she would play with her china dolls, some from Germany and some from Cathay. She would act out the routines of the lives of the aristocrats of the city, mimicking their ways, learning the truths of how people interacted, pantomiming the dance of life. Hers was the childhood of a widow’s only daughter, who looked out over the treetops and wondered about life. Surely not so unusual from moments that you and I had as a child.
          My earliest memories of my mother are of her sitting on her rocker in a corner of the bedroom, doing her sewing, mending our clothes, or darning a sweater, stitching together her thoughts as she kept vigil during my father’s long illness. Often it was a place where I would crawl onto her lap to hear a story. More often than not, it was a place where she wrestled with her private demons.
          In later years, when she was in her forties and early fifties, her room was a classroom, where she taught social studies, first at Glen Ellyn Junior High and later at Sunset Hill private girls’ school in Kansas City. There she imparted a way of life and of inquiry to her students, helped them discover the rudimentary truths of knowledge, and opened the doors of life to eager and indolent minds alike. In her late fifties and up into her seventies, her room was not in her home, but at her business, which she started. It was there that she made her decisions, melded truth with integrity and really came alive. Her business became her way of life. Her office was her absolute domain. It was the lair of a lioness. One entered it very carefully.
          She went almost directly from her office to Greenwich Hospital and then to Putnam Weaver Nursing Home. She had returned to a room of her own – one room, where she could look out over the treetops and where she sorted through her memories, and dreams, and the ways and truths of her life. Her journey from room to room, was it so unlike that of someone you know? Is it much different from that of many of us?
          At her funeral, the priest read one of the Gospel passages appointed for that service and one, which I have used at burial services over and over again:
          Jesus said to his followers, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, Believe also in me. In my Fathers house there are many rooms. 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. Thomas said to him, “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
          Jesus, who was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn, who celebrated the Last Supper in a borrowed upper room, knew the importance of having a room of your own, a space of your own. For he assures us that at the end of our mortal lives there awaits for us our own special abiding place, our own room. Our journey from the time of conception and the room of the womb is a journey with a destiny. Its destination is a room in the household of God, where we have our own place with those who have gone before, those whom we call the saints of God. Our destiny is not isolation, but a special dwelling place where we can join in the fellowship and communion of the saints with God.
          Is Jesus’ promise of a room of our own in heaven really so implausible? In these last few years I have become firmly convinced of life after death and a place in heaven. We don’t need to engage in fantastic graphics of the imagination and picture various realms of heaven as did the Gnostics and the apocryphal writers. They had levels of heaven, where there were cosmic motels on the highway of heaven, with Hell a Super 6 in Gary, Indiana, and the Heavenly Rest the Trump Plaza. That is sheer fantasy. But let’s face it, Jesus speaks to very real sense, which we all have. This is a sense of place, a sense of habitation where our identity, our way of life is defined. This where we deal with questions of appearance and reality (or Truth), and where we are in touch with the vital juices, or that positive creativity, which is the heart of life. From this way of thinking, cannot even the most doubtful unbeliever begin to make the segue from a room in this life to one which awaits us in the next?
          As Christians, you and I have, I think, a greater intimation of immortality. In our lives and in our rooms we catch glimpses of our place in heaven. For as members of the Church we have already through baptism begun to enter into the life of Christ and in the communion of the saints now and later on. Here in this present fellowship of the church, we confess Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. In so doing we make room for Him in our room. By so confessing we come to understand Him as the authentic way of life, and as the authenticity of truth and life. We gain this sense of Jesus as the way the truth and the life through reflection upon His life as gospel and as revelation of God, and through participation in the sacraments.
          There are, of course, moral implications to having a room of our own, where we discover and know the way, the truth, and life. First of all, respect your own space and that of others. Privacy and affirmation are important nutrients on our lives. Secondly, share your abiding place, your room with your neighbor. This helps you to move along the way and to gain insights into truth and life. And thirdly, help create a room or space for someone else. This not only means encouraging our children or friends to value themselves and to make a place for themselves. It also means literally working to solve the problem of adequate housing for the poor and the homeless. This is a seemingly impossible task. But our own room is false if we have not sought to prepare a similar place for someone else.

          Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you.” This blessed assurance, similar to one given by a mother to a child, frees us to deal with the space of our lives. For we know that we are not alone, but are really worth something, loved, and awaited with great expectation by none other than god Himself. What a really great Easter promise for Mother’s Day! Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. 
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