I decided to take a crack at blogging the lectionary along with Rachel Held Evans. This is hard, even for an Education for Ministry graduate, but here goes:
First reading: Acts 7:55-60Psalm: Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16Second reading: 1 Peter 2:2-10Gospel: John 14:1-14
Here's what I don't like about this week's readings: they all appear to be about being "more clued in" than The Others, which is the Jews in the Acts reading (although technically Stephen and the Jesus-followers of the time would have still considered themselves Jews), in the Psalms it is the persecutors who are probably non-Jews but could also be "less than faithful", and in 1 Peter and John, it can be read as: "We Christians got it right and the rest of you are wrong, neener neener".
Except Jesus isn't sneering. So what's going on?
I started to read through the various commentary resources and the words started to blur together, blah blah blah, although all (that I read) seemed pretty clear that we'd been mistranslating John 14:6 but they weren't really clear on how that was the case ("not so hot on how" as Judas sings in Jesus Christ Superstar) at least not in words I fully understood.
Then I found myself humming a tune this morning:
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life...
As sermons at Good Sam occasionally include singing, it finally dawned on me to listen to the music.
And then I had to go look up the words, which are by George Herbert (1663).
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.
And the theology-speak started making sense.
Let me back up a little. In John, Jesus is making "I AM" statements which is part of God's Name, the one he revealed to Moses when trying to convince him to go back to Egypt and free God's people. Jesus is laying claim to the same name.
Yeah, that one.
"God is The Way, God is Truth, God is Life."
Which thus makes it inclusive of all monotheistic faiths at least.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life...
It's not about the right way vs. the wrong way. It's all about relationship, the relationship the disciples had with Jesus (and thus God), the relationships 1 Peter's audience had with each other and Jesus (and God), down to today:
To my relationship with God and Jesus, who are (is? Is the Trinity a group noun?) my Way, Truth and Life.
It's my choice to be in this relationship but it's not the only way God is in relationship with people, because if we believe that God continues to act throughout history (and I do believe that) then God is continuing to reveal Godself and in ways that are new and unique and creative.
The covenant formed with the Israelites continues, and as Jewish people today continue to study and interact with the Torah, God reveals Godself to where they are in their lives right now.
(Although I do need to ask the rabbi I work for why one of the lectures in the Hartman Dilemmas of Faith reads: "Dilemma of God's Absence: Grappling with God's Departure from History" although the follow up lecture is called: "Dilemma of Human Responsibility: What Does it mean to live a Life of Faith in an Age of Divine Hiddenness?" so maybe the question is asked to provoke an opposite answer.)
God reveals Godself in Love and in Truth, and in Life.
As for The Way? It's from where ever you are to where God is waiting to be discovered, loved, praised. The Way is both unique and universal. It is mine and it is yours.
[and now that I've written all that, I'm wondering if I should've done a meditation on Herbert's lyrics instead....]