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Asking for Directions

How can we know the way? In times that are uncertain and unknown, we get to ask for directions. The stereotype of men unwilling to ask for directions is contradicted in our gospel reading. In John 14:1-14 Thomas says to Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” John 14:5. So maybe it’s not exactly a direct request for directions, but for this week that’s how I am going to take it. And when we keep reading we see that Jesus will go on to give directions to Thomas, Philip, and all those who are listening including us, now, some two thousand years later.

How long will Covid19 continue to spread, at what rate, when will it be safe to gather for worship, to play team sports, to go back to a workplace, have kids back in school…..? There are so many unanswered questions and ways that we are each looking for directions. How can we know the way?

As I look out at the Delaware Bay I wonder how will we care for my aunt after her hip replacement, what is the prognosis for my dad following his stroke, when will I return to Colorado?

These words come to me:

Make peace with the unknown in the presence of the Known God.

Do not let your hearts be troubled

-John 14:1.

Thomas after the resurrection appearance to the other disciples (the one Thomas missed) says he needs to see Jesus with his own eyes, touch Jesus’ side, have his own experience of the risen Lord. And I think we do also. We need our own experiences of the Risen Christ. It’s part of what I appreciate about Outdoor Ministry- the mountain top experiences, being in the great outdoors, an openness that gets created in these settings. Yet this year….it’s unknown what that will look like. AND in this unknown there is the Known God

Thank God, God is not limited by our fears, doubts, disbelief, uncertainty, imagination….. In all of our unknowns we can learn to be at peace. During this season of Easter each week we are using a psalm in our worship. The psalms are powerful spiritual medicine.

Trusting God is listening I lift up my own psalm, my ask for help, my weariness and I lay it at the feet of the Risen Christ.

O Lord hear my prayer

O Lord hear my prayer

When I call, answer me

O Lord hear my prayer

O Lord hear my prayer

Come and listen to me

The Taize hymn comes forth from the depth of my tears. As I watch the YouTube video I offer up my own prayers. My voice joins in the plea. We are singing together, we are asking together. We lament together.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. John 14:12-14

So I am going to keep asking for directions. Show me the way. So much is unknown, new, uncertain- grant me your peace. Guide me in your truth. Let me inhale that power of your life- your resurrection life. O Lord hear my prayer.

This weekend we get to share together a Psalm of Lament. Psalm 31 is categorized as an Individual Lament. Yet, here it is thousands of years later and it is my psalm also and perhaps also your psalm for this day. It becomes our psalm. We- it’s a “we” that gets together to join in the pleas to the God who created us. It is the power of community worship even as we are physically separated. We are bound together by a Love that will never let us go.

The Psalmist write, “my times are in your hands” (verse 15). The thought is shared that this is not merely resignation to fate. It is a deep trust in the goodness of God, even when God’s goodness is hidden or obscure.

15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love. Psalm 31

Today in my weariness -one of my enemies is self-will and self-reliance. Today I get to write down these words and remember this is “we” time also. Today I hear the songs of others. It is not all up to me or about me. Today’s burdens are not to be placed upon my shoulders. The burdens and challenges of today are to be placed upon the Good Shepherd’s shoulders. Just last week we heard Jesus say I am the Gate ( the way/entry) in John 10 where Jesus goes on to say, I am the Good Shepherd.

Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in me- I hear Jesus speaking as I feel the sun shining through the windows.

The psalmist asked “let your face shine upon your servant”. Today the sun is out and shining. Being redirected and reminded of the presence of the Known God, I give God thanks for all those who are covering work that I cannot cover from this distance. “Save me in your steadfast love”- I look to waves I see out the window. They are made visible because of the wind. I remember this is One who calmed the sea.

My next prayer is, Steadfast love -please calm the waves of my fear. Save me.

A hymn we will sing this weekend becomes the music my heart needs to hear. It saves me from the downward spiral of fear, weariness, and taking all of this upon my own shoulders. It brings peace.

Come my way, my truth, my life.. the music and video speak to me. The Presence of the Known God brings peace.

Love is the Way. Love is the Truth. Love is the Life. These are directions. As the holy water of tears flow, I remember the tears of Jesus. He knows. He knows deep sorrow and loss. He knows we need one another. Jesus knows. And I am not alone in this—- I am known in this.

Peace flows with the tears. And I am saved from my enemies. This steadfast love saves me. Now, I am ready to listen for directions. I get the text message as I finish writing this- there will be a teleconference with the doctor. So in the pause, I ask; Jesus will you show me the way, show me the truth, show me the life? That is teleconference is in the next hour. Finish this post. Drink water. Trust this Known God, the Risen Christ who brings peace and reminds me; Let not your heart be troubled trust God, trust me.

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