By The Rev. Sherry Deets
5 Easter – May 18, 2014
Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. He says this in response to Thomas’ honest questioning – “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” How can we know the way? If we’re honest with ourselves, we have the same question. How can we know the way?”
Jesus is speaking of a way of life – in Jewish circles the “way” was another term for a way of living one’s life. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth and the life”. Thomas a Kempis, in 15th century language had this to say about Jesus’ words: Without the Way there is no going: without the Truth there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living. I am the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the Truth which thou oughtest to believe; the Life, which thou oughtest to hope for. I am the Way inviolable, the Truth infallible, the Life unending. I am the Way that is straightest, the Truth that is true, the Life blessed, the Life uncreated. If thou remain in my way, thou shalt know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free, and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life.
Some of you may remember the book and the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. It is a story that uses golf as a metaphor for one man’s spiritual journey. I share a scene from the movie in which Bagger Vance is teaching the young boy, Hardy, about just what an authentic swing is the night before the great match on the golf course.
Bagger Vance says, “Right here is where this game is won. Right here on the green. First you got to see it. Sun gonna be here in the morning. Over there in the afternoon. Funny thing is, the blades of grass gonna follow the sun. The grain is gonna shift. That same putt…gonna go one way in the morning, the other in the afternoon. One way in the morning, the other in the afternoon. You see that? A golf course put folk through quite a punishment. It lives and breathes just like us.
Hardy asks if he thinks Junuh can win. Bagger says yes, if he can find his authentic swing. Inside each and every one of us is one true, authentic swing. Something we was born with, that’s ours…and ours alone. Something can’t be taught or learned. Something that got to be remembered. Over time, the world can rob us of that swing…and get buried inside us under all our woulda’s and coulda’s and shoulda’s. some folk even forget what their swing was like. You keep swinging… But Hardy has no golf balls. Don’t worry about the ball or where it’s gonna go. Just swing the club. Close your eyes. You can’t make that ball go in. You have to let it. Feel the club. Feel the weight of the club. A deep perfect line. Dropping in, soft as butter. Listen to the sounds of the night. Keep swinging that club. Feel the breeze coming off the sea. Inside every one of us is one true, authentic swing. Keep swinging that club…until you’re part of the whole thing. Something we was born with.
And Bagger Vance quietly puts a ball in front of Hardy as he continues swinging, eyes closed, and ball goes into the hole, soft as butter.
Bagger Vance was using golf as a metaphor for living our life. For a way of life. Inside each of us is something of God, that part of us that is true and authentic.
Developing, finding, deepening our relationship with Christ is our way of finding our true, authentic swing. We can’t make the ball go in, we have to let it. We can let go of our worries about where the ball will go. We simply need to keep swinging, keep living, keep striving for a deeper relationship with Christ.
Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” These are words of comfort. Words of sheer promise. God comforts us when we are most in need by reassuring us that we have a place in God’s kingdom. God loves us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to show us what the Father looks like – the embodiment of love, mercy, justice, truth, compassion, forgiveness. And Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection, becomes for us the Road – the path on which we walk every day of our lives, never abandoned, never alone.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” This is also sheer promise. In other words, Jesus is telling Thomas that he already knows the way. Precisely because Thomas knows Jesus, he can’t get lost.
The world is a place full of fear, full of lonely, lost, frightened people. It is also the place where God chooses to dwell deeply – with each of us. The world is also the place where we, as Christians, are called to do the work that Jesus is asking us to do. Our job is to make our way in the world by using Jesus Christ as the road – by leaning on Christ to show us where to go and giving us the strength to get there. As we walk these roads, the world begins to look more and more like the Kingdom of God.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me. Calling us home, home is wherever the love of God is present. “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Amen.
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