Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Contemplating "The Way"

One of my good friends once did a radio commentary in which she discusses how each one of us has “the way” things are to be done. There is “the way” one folds the laundry or puts dollar bills back into a wallet or pumps gas or any myriad of things that merit a system of doing. And, naturally, whatever is your “way” is “the way”. Incidentally, questioning “the way” should be done at your own risk.

So, this past Fifth Sunday of Easter, the gospel reading was the one that I’ve been looking at for years as the one for my own funeral: John 14:1-14. Besides talking about “In my Father’s house there are many rooms…” Thomas poses the question to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (Uh-oh…here comes “the way” again!)

And Jesus answers, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Great: so now Jesus has “the way”, too!

Often times, this sort of talk in the gospels has been used to club “non-believers” over the head and justify people in their abuse of Christianity to be ugly. Certainly, there were fundamentalists on television and radio…and campus…in Missouri who would have everyone believe that there was only one way into heaven, and it was “the way” of this passage from John’s gospel.

But I have always had a very different take on what Jesus was saying here, a take that (admittedly) has absolutely no endorsement or stamp of approval from any theologian or seminary. It’s just my lay Episcolesbian perspective:

Jesus: My way of being (please see all cites throughout my various works and words that demonstrate my love and compassion) is the way" And this way is the one that is truth and is life (as opposed to deceit and death). And if we all adopt a path of love, truth, life we will come to know God.

Further into this particular gospel passage, another apostle, Phillip, is scratching his head and asking Jesus to show them “the Father, and we will be satisfied.” And I can almost see Jesus’ shoulders drooping and his head shaking as he, again, tries to explain to this group of “very nice…if a bit dense…guys” what he means.

Jesus: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.”

As I read that, what I understand is that Jesus is trying to tell this pack of puppies that have been following him around from place to place and witnessing “the way” to now put two-and-two together. I don’t know if Jesus himself has figured it out that, “Hey—I’m God!” But I think he’s trying to get the gang to understand that “the way” he has been and treated people and related to them is “the way”. And Jesus’ “way” is in keeping with other religious traditions, even if the icons of those other paths have their own variation on “the way”.

All of this goes back to my contention that we humans are some kind of silly people when we try to force everyone into believing that “the way” we worship God is “the way”. God is far too agile and smart to be trapped into any one path. Remember: in his house there are many rooms. And each of those rooms has a place for anyone who has followed “the way” to the party. And in one room, they might be greeted by the sounds of choirs and organs….while in another it’s clarinets and ram horns…or sitars and gongs. If you follow “the way” of peace, love and light, you will come into a place of eternal life. And the best part about it is that you can do it now, today, before this stage of your life is over.

Sing Hallelujah, Hallelujah!
And you shoo tha blues away
When cares pursue ya
Gets you through tha darkest day!

--Ella Fitzgerald


Anonymous said...

How appropriate for what we have had to face today in the loss of another of God's children. And a man who had a plan and it was carried out. Another close friend lost her partner of many, many years and she know he left a mark on society and we will be better for it. She is right and so are you.


SCG said...

A tough day for sure.