An Epic Hike

Bible Text: John 14:1-14 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

 

It is likely no surprise that we, Mike and I, like hiking or going for walks. Some of you have picked up on this and have shared with us your favourite walks or given us suggestions and we appreciate them all. There is something about the smell of the trees and dirt, something about the sounds of the birds or flowing water, something about just being outside, rain or shine in God’s creation. Likely this love of walking among the woods started at a very young age when our family would head out of Sunday afternoons and hit trails along the Niagara Escarpment. However, I am also someone who likes order and certainly likes to know where I am going. If the trail is not well worn or clearly marked I can panic. Or, if there is a trail that heads off in one direction that was not on the map my anxiety level can rise. Mike has adjusted to this behaviour and now has started taking a picture of the map at the trail-head with his cell phone so that we can consult it when we inevitably have a debate about which direction to head next. The idea of being lost in the woods terrifies me. And there is a reality about the woods in these here parts in particular. I learned in girl guides to be prepared and for that reason I usually walk in the woods with a cougar stick and bear bell. The last thing I want is to be surprised by any one of the wildly wonderful creatures lurking in the forest. I recently had a conversation about the West Coast Trail. The thing is, when I read that one of the most infamous portions of the trail are the 200 feet of ladders up and down both sides of Cullite creek, or that Parks Canada warns all hikers that the trail is strenuous and difficult and beginner or novice hikers should not attempt it or on the official website it states that the trail is not without personal risk and it has the reputation as the most grueling trek in North America. Oh yeah and that hikers can expect to have to wade across some rivers and creeks and always be on the look out for cougars, bears, or wolves, I tend to wonder why any one would hike it. Although I definitely commend the many hikers who have taken this trail and I am sure there are beautiful spots that make it all worth it but for the record, that is not my idea of a good Sunday afternoon trail. Give me the boardwalk trail of Paradise meadows or any of the well marked trails throughout this region over that any day.

It is for these reasons that I feel for Thomas and Philip. I know exactly what it is like to feel lost or confused about which way to go. As I mentioned this chapter is part of a larger conversation referred to as Jesus’ farewell discourse. This particular passage opens up with Jesus attempting to reassure his disciples. However, it seems to do the exact opposite. Instead of the disciples feeling like they are on the right course there is an unmarked trail that confuses their sense of direction. Jesus has washed their feet and commanded the disciples to love and serve one another. He has also foretold of his betrayal by Judas and the denial of Peter. No wonder they are upset and confused. How can they trust one another let alone love on another knowing that all these betrayals and denials are lurking in the background, hiding in the woods.

It is after all these predictions that Jesus tells his disciples not to worry. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, Believe in God, believe also in me.” Some translations, like the NRSV use the term believe, while others use the word trust. I tend to lean toward the term trust because it seems to evoke a deep relationship while the term believe is often used as a superficial catch phrase. With regards to the Greek either word trust or believe is appropriate. But let’s imagine Jesus says, “Trust God and trust me.” I hear this as an imperative-Jesus is commanding the disciples to trust even to keep trusting in him. Do not let your hearts be troubled, continue to do what you are doing, trust in God and trust in me and things will work out. This line is often used in funeral services and rightly so, we are most often troubled or hurting when we are faced with the mystery of life and death. Jesus’ attempt to reassure and give comfort to the disciples gives us assurance and comfort in the face of unknown. These are words of comfort and hope, promise and plain speech and there is little mincing of words as to what’s soon to take place.

Jesus’ farewell words to his disciples in this conversation anticipate the events that lie ahead, the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is also important to note that it also assumes the ascension. The resurrection is not the end of the story. Jesus is trying to tell the disciples that the not only is the crucifixion going to happen but to wait and see for the resurrection followed by the ascension.

Despite Jesus’ efforts the disciples seem to be particularly agitated about Jesus promise regarding a place. Jesus says, “There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home and I will show you the way. In fact I’ll be sure to come and get you.” Jesus is not describing resurrected life but ascended life with God. Both Thomas and Philip have a moment of panic. Thomas says “But Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How can you expect us to know the way?” Thomas flat out says-we don’t know where the trail-head is, how will we be able to spot the trail when we don’t know what we’re looking for? Philip adds to the conversation. “Not only do we not know where we are going but we don’t even know what the Father looks like.” The anxiety about being left alone is clouding their vision, their perception, their hearts, their ability to understand the words of hope that Jesus is trying to share. Their panic is only causing them to be more lost. Instead of seeing the well beaten trail they only see the overgrown forest.

If they were listening with calm hearts and open minds they would hear the good news that Jesus is the road. Jesus is the trail-head. Jesus is the way. To see Jesus is to see the Father. And they, more than any others have seen Jesus’ face, heard his voice, and more importantly, have seen what he did, his works and his ministry. To know Jesus is to know the Father. Our own anxieties and fears can confuse us, cloud our vision and distort our perceptions. We can not see the trail for the panic of getting lost.

Certainly fear can close our ears and hearts to words of hope. It is particularly difficult to hear words of assurance when we have had heartfelt prayers that have gone unanswered, when our hearts are broken and our trust has been shattered. Jesus after all continues to tell the disciples that if they really mean it, if they pray with honesty and truth, that those desires will be fulfilled. Instead of seeing a clear answer or the way, we can get angry or frustrated, and understandably our faith is challenged. But what Jesus is saying is that there is room in this relationship for honest acknowledgement of our confusion, our lack of power or control, our frustration when our requests seemingly go unheard. In all those experiences we are called to continue to trust and abide, believe, in the most authentic way, in Jesus.

We all struggle with the feeling that God is absent from our world. That instead of hope we have hopelessness, instead of peace we have war-often carried out in the name of God. Instead of contentment we have the trauma of grief. But this discourse between Jesus and the disciples reminds us that God is not absent nor are we waiting for God’s presence but rather that God is here. God has come. When Jesus says I AM the way we realize that God is present in the life and ministry of Jesus. God is at work. We may not have the luxury of seeing the physical Jesus or hearing his voice and know that it is the face of God, but in his commandment to love one another we are encouraged to look at the faces before us and see Jesus in them. Jesus is pointing to the trail and saying, you don’t have to worry about where its headed, you don’t have to worry about getting lost, you don’t have to worry about what’s lurking in the trees. Do not let your worry get in the way of your life. Do not let the confusion or concern, the panic or the upset cloud your vision. Instead come and follow me because it is the best hike you will ever walk. Amen

 

 

May 18, 2014
Preacher:

Passage:

John 14:1-14

Service Type:

 

It is likely no surprise that we, Mike and I, like hiking or going for walks. Some of you have picked up on this and have shared with us your favourite walks or given us suggestions and we appreciate them all. There is something about the smell of the trees and dirt, something about the sounds of the birds or flowing water, something about just being outside, rain or shine in God's creation. Likely this love of walking among the woods started at a very young age when our family would head out of Sunday afternoons and hit trails along the Niagara Escarpment. However, I am also someone who likes order and certainly likes to know where I am going. If the trail is not well worn or clearly marked I can panic. Or, if there is a trail that heads off in one direction that was not on the map my anxiety level can rise. Mike has adjusted to this behaviour and now has started taking a picture of the map at the trail-head with his cell phone so that we can consult it when we inevitably have a debate about which direction to head next. The idea of being lost in the woods terrifies me. And there is a reality about the woods in these here parts in particular. I learned in girl guides to be prepared and for that reason I usually walk in the woods with a cougar stick and bear bell. The last thing I want is to be surprised by any one of the wildly wonderful creatures lurking in the forest. I recently had a conversation about the West Coast Trail. The thing is, when I read that one of the most infamous portions of the trail are the 200 feet of ladders up and down both sides of Cullite creek, or that Parks Canada warns all hikers that the trail is strenuous and difficult and beginner or novice hikers should not attempt it or on the official website it states that the trail is not without personal risk and it has the reputation as the most grueling trek in North America. Oh yeah and that hikers can expect to have to wade across some rivers and creeks and always be on the look out for cougars, bears, or wolves, I tend to wonder why any one would hike it. Although I definitely commend the many hikers who have taken this trail and I am sure there are beautiful spots that make it all worth it but for the record, that is not my idea of a good Sunday afternoon trail. Give me the boardwalk trail of Paradise meadows or any of the well marked trails throughout this region over that any day.

It is for these reasons that I feel for Thomas and Philip. I know exactly what it is like to feel lost or confused about which way to go. As I mentioned this chapter is part of a larger conversation referred to as Jesus' farewell discourse. This particular passage opens up with Jesus attempting to reassure his disciples. However, it seems to do the exact opposite. Instead of the disciples feeling like they are on the right course there is an unmarked trail that confuses their sense of direction. Jesus has washed their feet and commanded the disciples to love and serve one another. He has also foretold of his betrayal by Judas and the denial of Peter. No wonder they are upset and confused. How can they trust one another let alone love on another knowing that all these betrayals and denials are lurking in the background, hiding in the woods.

It is after all these predictions that Jesus tells his disciples not to worry. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, Believe in God, believe also in me.” Some translations, like the NRSV use the term believe, while others use the word trust. I tend to lean toward the term trust because it seems to evoke a deep relationship while the term believe is often used as a superficial catch phrase. With regards to the Greek either word trust or believe is appropriate. But let's imagine Jesus says, “Trust God and trust me.” I hear this as an imperative-Jesus is commanding the disciples to trust even to keep trusting in him. Do not let your hearts be troubled, continue to do what you are doing, trust in God and trust in me and things will work out. This line is often used in funeral services and rightly so, we are most often troubled or hurting when we are faced with the mystery of life and death. Jesus' attempt to reassure and give comfort to the disciples gives us assurance and comfort in the face of unknown. These are words of comfort and hope, promise and plain speech and there is little mincing of words as to what's soon to take place.

Jesus' farewell words to his disciples in this conversation anticipate the events that lie ahead, the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is also important to note that it also assumes the ascension. The resurrection is not the end of the story. Jesus is trying to tell the disciples that the not only is the crucifixion going to happen but to wait and see for the resurrection followed by the ascension.

Despite Jesus' efforts the disciples seem to be particularly agitated about Jesus promise regarding a place. Jesus says, “There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home and I will show you the way. In fact I'll be sure to come and get you.” Jesus is not describing resurrected life but ascended life with God. Both Thomas and Philip have a moment of panic. Thomas says “But Master, we have no idea where you're going. How can you expect us to know the way?” Thomas flat out says-we don't know where the trail-head is, how will we be able to spot the trail when we don't know what we're looking for? Philip adds to the conversation. “Not only do we not know where we are going but we don't even know what the Father looks like.” The anxiety about being left alone is clouding their vision, their perception, their hearts, their ability to understand the words of hope that Jesus is trying to share. Their panic is only causing them to be more lost. Instead of seeing the well beaten trail they only see the overgrown forest.

If they were listening with calm hearts and open minds they would hear the good news that Jesus is the road. Jesus is the trail-head. Jesus is the way. To see Jesus is to see the Father. And they, more than any others have seen Jesus' face, heard his voice, and more importantly, have seen what he did, his works and his ministry. To know Jesus is to know the Father. Our own anxieties and fears can confuse us, cloud our vision and distort our perceptions. We can not see the trail for the panic of getting lost.

Certainly fear can close our ears and hearts to words of hope. It is particularly difficult to hear words of assurance when we have had heartfelt prayers that have gone unanswered, when our hearts are broken and our trust has been shattered. Jesus after all continues to tell the disciples that if they really mean it, if they pray with honesty and truth, that those desires will be fulfilled. Instead of seeing a clear answer or the way, we can get angry or frustrated, and understandably our faith is challenged. But what Jesus is saying is that there is room in this relationship for honest acknowledgement of our confusion, our lack of power or control, our frustration when our requests seemingly go unheard. In all those experiences we are called to continue to trust and abide, believe, in the most authentic way, in Jesus.

We all struggle with the feeling that God is absent from our world. That instead of hope we have hopelessness, instead of peace we have war-often carried out in the name of God. Instead of contentment we have the trauma of grief. But this discourse between Jesus and the disciples reminds us that God is not absent nor are we waiting for God's presence but rather that God is here. God has come. When Jesus says I AM the way we realize that God is present in the life and ministry of Jesus. God is at work. We may not have the luxury of seeing the physical Jesus or hearing his voice and know that it is the face of God, but in his commandment to love one another we are encouraged to look at the faces before us and see Jesus in them. Jesus is pointing to the trail and saying, you don't have to worry about where its headed, you don't have to worry about getting lost, you don't have to worry about what's lurking in the trees. Do not let your worry get in the way of your life. Do not let the confusion or concern, the panic or the upset cloud your vision. Instead come and follow me because it is the best hike you will ever walk. Amen

 

 

Bible Text: John 14:1-14 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

 

It is likely no surprise that we, Mike and I, like hiking or going for walks. Some of you have picked up on this and have shared with us your favourite walks or given us suggestions and we appreciate them all. There is something about the smell of the trees and dirt, something about the sounds of the birds or flowing water, something about just being outside, rain or shine in God’s creation. Likely this love of walking among the woods started at a very young age when our family would head out of Sunday afternoons and hit trails along the Niagara Escarpment. However, I am also someone who likes order and certainly likes to know where I am going. If the trail is not well worn or clearly marked I can panic. Or, if there is a trail that heads off in one direction that was not on the map my anxiety level can rise. Mike has adjusted to this behaviour and now has started taking a picture of the map at the trail-head with his cell phone so that we can consult it when we inevitably have a debate about which direction to head next. The idea of being lost in the woods terrifies me. And there is a reality about the woods in these here parts in particular. I learned in girl guides to be prepared and for that reason I usually walk in the woods with a cougar stick and bear bell. The last thing I want is to be surprised by any one of the wildly wonderful creatures lurking in the forest. I recently had a conversation about the West Coast Trail. The thing is, when I read that one of the most infamous portions of the trail are the 200 feet of ladders up and down both sides of Cullite creek, or that Parks Canada warns all hikers that the trail is strenuous and difficult and beginner or novice hikers should not attempt it or on the official website it states that the trail is not without personal risk and it has the reputation as the most grueling trek in North America. Oh yeah and that hikers can expect to have to wade across some rivers and creeks and always be on the look out for cougars, bears, or wolves, I tend to wonder why any one would hike it. Although I definitely commend the many hikers who have taken this trail and I am sure there are beautiful spots that make it all worth it but for the record, that is not my idea of a good Sunday afternoon trail. Give me the boardwalk trail of Paradise meadows or any of the well marked trails throughout this region over that any day.

It is for these reasons that I feel for Thomas and Philip. I know exactly what it is like to feel lost or confused about which way to go. As I mentioned this chapter is part of a larger conversation referred to as Jesus’ farewell discourse. This particular passage opens up with Jesus attempting to reassure his disciples. However, it seems to do the exact opposite. Instead of the disciples feeling like they are on the right course there is an unmarked trail that confuses their sense of direction. Jesus has washed their feet and commanded the disciples to love and serve one another. He has also foretold of his betrayal by Judas and the denial of Peter. No wonder they are upset and confused. How can they trust one another let alone love on another knowing that all these betrayals and denials are lurking in the background, hiding in the woods.

It is after all these predictions that Jesus tells his disciples not to worry. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, Believe in God, believe also in me.” Some translations, like the NRSV use the term believe, while others use the word trust. I tend to lean toward the term trust because it seems to evoke a deep relationship while the term believe is often used as a superficial catch phrase. With regards to the Greek either word trust or believe is appropriate. But let’s imagine Jesus says, “Trust God and trust me.” I hear this as an imperative-Jesus is commanding the disciples to trust even to keep trusting in him. Do not let your hearts be troubled, continue to do what you are doing, trust in God and trust in me and things will work out. This line is often used in funeral services and rightly so, we are most often troubled or hurting when we are faced with the mystery of life and death. Jesus’ attempt to reassure and give comfort to the disciples gives us assurance and comfort in the face of unknown. These are words of comfort and hope, promise and plain speech and there is little mincing of words as to what’s soon to take place.

Jesus’ farewell words to his disciples in this conversation anticipate the events that lie ahead, the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is also important to note that it also assumes the ascension. The resurrection is not the end of the story. Jesus is trying to tell the disciples that the not only is the crucifixion going to happen but to wait and see for the resurrection followed by the ascension.

Despite Jesus’ efforts the disciples seem to be particularly agitated about Jesus promise regarding a place. Jesus says, “There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home and I will show you the way. In fact I’ll be sure to come and get you.” Jesus is not describing resurrected life but ascended life with God. Both Thomas and Philip have a moment of panic. Thomas says “But Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How can you expect us to know the way?” Thomas flat out says-we don’t know where the trail-head is, how will we be able to spot the trail when we don’t know what we’re looking for? Philip adds to the conversation. “Not only do we not know where we are going but we don’t even know what the Father looks like.” The anxiety about being left alone is clouding their vision, their perception, their hearts, their ability to understand the words of hope that Jesus is trying to share. Their panic is only causing them to be more lost. Instead of seeing the well beaten trail they only see the overgrown forest.

If they were listening with calm hearts and open minds they would hear the good news that Jesus is the road. Jesus is the trail-head. Jesus is the way. To see Jesus is to see the Father. And they, more than any others have seen Jesus’ face, heard his voice, and more importantly, have seen what he did, his works and his ministry. To know Jesus is to know the Father. Our own anxieties and fears can confuse us, cloud our vision and distort our perceptions. We can not see the trail for the panic of getting lost.

Certainly fear can close our ears and hearts to words of hope. It is particularly difficult to hear words of assurance when we have had heartfelt prayers that have gone unanswered, when our hearts are broken and our trust has been shattered. Jesus after all continues to tell the disciples that if they really mean it, if they pray with honesty and truth, that those desires will be fulfilled. Instead of seeing a clear answer or the way, we can get angry or frustrated, and understandably our faith is challenged. But what Jesus is saying is that there is room in this relationship for honest acknowledgement of our confusion, our lack of power or control, our frustration when our requests seemingly go unheard. In all those experiences we are called to continue to trust and abide, believe, in the most authentic way, in Jesus.

We all struggle with the feeling that God is absent from our world. That instead of hope we have hopelessness, instead of peace we have war-often carried out in the name of God. Instead of contentment we have the trauma of grief. But this discourse between Jesus and the disciples reminds us that God is not absent nor are we waiting for God’s presence but rather that God is here. God has come. When Jesus says I AM the way we realize that God is present in the life and ministry of Jesus. God is at work. We may not have the luxury of seeing the physical Jesus or hearing his voice and know that it is the face of God, but in his commandment to love one another we are encouraged to look at the faces before us and see Jesus in them. Jesus is pointing to the trail and saying, you don’t have to worry about where its headed, you don’t have to worry about getting lost, you don’t have to worry about what’s lurking in the trees. Do not let your worry get in the way of your life. Do not let the confusion or concern, the panic or the upset cloud your vision. Instead come and follow me because it is the best hike you will ever walk. Amen