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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    May 10, 2020 | Fifth Sunday of Easter

    We Need the Coordinates
    John 14:1–14

     I  MISS USING PAPER MAPS. I don’t miss the frustrations of trying to refold one. But I miss them.

    On road trips, my sister and I would use a road atlas as a game. We’d turn in that big book to a state. The object was to find a location on the map that starts with an “A.” The next person must find a “B” and so on. When one could no longer find a town with their “letter,” the game was over.

    I liked them because I could see a bigger picture. Not just the route to take from one location to another, I could see the destination in relation to the whole state. I could see the listing of interesting attractions that might be worth a side trip.

    † † †

    FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, Lisa and I got to visit Scotland. We flew into Edinburgh, rented a car and drove around the country using a paper road map. We took a detour or two to see some of the off-the-main-road attractions. Especially animals.

    A couple of days in, we saw on the map the “Arctic Penguin.” Just so happened that the “Arctic Penguin” was in the same town where we were staying overnight. Now we both like penguins. So, when we arrived, we took off on the adventure to see this penguin important enough to warrant a dot on the map.

    We walked up and down the streets. Nothing. No zoo. No side show. Nothing.

    The map showed it right at the main intersection in that small town. We finally gave up.

    We were on the waterfront; it was getting dark. I suggested Lisa stand in front of a boat moored there so I could take a photo. It was then we discovered the Arctic Penguin. Turns out the Arctic Penguin is a historic three-masted schooner moored as a museum.

    † † †

    MAPS ARE USEFUL to help you find your way. Of course, paper folding maps are harder to come by today.

    Now it is GPS in your car or on your phone. Enter where you want to go, and a nice voice tells you step by step how to get there.

    † † †

    BEFORE JESUS’ LAST MEAL with them; before the arrest; before the crucifixion and death. Before the Resurrection. Jesus tells the disciples he is going away. Jesus tells the disciples he’s going away to prepare a place for them and that they know the way.

    He is preparing them for what’s to come but they don’t understand where it is he is going.

    Thomas takes Jesus quite literally. Thomas wants step-by-step directions. Thomas wants coordinates. A road map. GPS calling out the turns and road changes that takes him to a physical place where Jesus will be.

    Jesus is the GPS. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Follow Jesus. Trust that Jesus is not abandoning them. Jesus is returning to his Father, which is good news for them. Jesus assures Thomas, the others, and all of us that this is also our destination. There are many dwellings in his Father’s house, and he goes to prepare a place, so that we will be with him and dwell with him in his intimate relationship with the Father.

    † † †

    JESUS TELLS US where we are, where we are going and how to get there.

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me… . I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    The Resurrection is the payoff to this promise. Jesus point the way home. He tells us: There are tough times ahead. But do not be afraid. Trust me. Stick with me and I will stick with you. Follow me and I will take you home.

    † † †

    “HOME” MEANS BEING in the intimate presence of God. “Home” means being at the bosom of the Father. Ascended life means to be with God, with Jesus. Where Jesus is, there we will be.

    This is supposed to be good news for us. But we, like Thomas, have questions. What’s all this “going home” stuff about? Our senses tell us that right here, right now is the only home we know. We like it. We have mapped out our own journey. We have entered the coordinates to our own truth, our own life. Why doesn’t Jesus join us instead of going away?

    The GPS in your car used to say “recalculating” whenever you made a wrong turn. It’s a word that became part of the popular culture, quite often being made fun of. Miss a turn (even intentionally) and your GPS keeps saying it over and over until you return to the route, stop navigation or mute the blasted thing.

    † † †

    JESUS TELLS US that this is not our home and to follow him. And we’re not sure we want to. We have roots. We have an address. We have family and friends. We have a life. We have comforts. We have things pretty good here.

    This is home. Let us believe in Jesus and kick our feet up at home. Jesus says, “recalculate” — this is not your home. This life is a passage, not a destination. “Recalculate.” Christian life this side of the grave is not to be spent in rest. “Recalculate.” We are in motion. We are on a “faith journey.”

    We are “pilgrims.” We “follow the Lord.”

    † † †

    THIS PASSAGE has everything to do with life here and now because Jesus entrusts his mission to his disciples. You want a map? Jesus is the map. Get up and follow him. You want directions? Here they are: Take up our cross.

    You want to know the way? He is the way. We don’t need a nice voice calling our turns and detours and accidents ahead. And his way is simple. Love God and neighbor. That is Christ’s great commandment.

    Actively, deliberately, constantly make Christ’s way your life’s purpose —

    — the way you face every obstacle and every opportunity.

    Make Christ’s way your way home.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «Love God and neighbor. That is Christ’s great commandment


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    John 14:1–14
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    Jesus comforts his disciples
    14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

    Jesus the way to the Father
    5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

    6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

    9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


    a.  John 14:1  Or Believe in God
    b.  John 14:7  Some manuscripts If you really knew me, you would know

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