easter 5a: sir, your room is ready

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament / Temple

In my Father’s House there are many mansions.

This is one of those gospel verses which rings in the souls of many of the faithful. The prospect of a mansion being prepared us to enjoy for all eternity is just too wonderful for words.

Visions of marble, gold faucets, sleep number beds, manicured lawns, and grand crystal chandeliers come readily to mind when we ponder this passage. And, for those of us unfortunate enough not to have a mansion in this life, the promise of acquiring one in the life to come stirs the senses.

I have to say though, that this is not one of the passages of Jesus’ teachings that speaks readily to me. Not because I’m uncomfortable with Jesus’ sentiments here, but because I’m uncomfortable with the all-too-typical-take on them.

A Mansion in the Wilderness, by Rick Morley I get uncomfortable with any version of our faith which turns Christianity into something that’s all about us. There are far too many teachings on Jesus, salvation, and Heaven, which remake Christianity into a narcissistic cult. And that’s the very opposite of the kind of faith that Jesus presents and compels us to follow.

The faith, as Jesus taught it, is all about us loving God and our neighbor. It’s an outwardly focused faith, which pushes us to look around and find people to love, and a God to adore.

When we refashion our faith into a mechanism whereby we just get lots of stuff…we lose the central essence of Jesus. The same very essence which compelled Jesus to give his life on a cross, not just ‘get stuff’ for himself.

It’s that cross-shaped life which we’re asked to emulate.

Take up your cross.

I think the key phrase here in this passage from the fourteenth chapter of John is: “In MY FATHER’S house…”

It’s not our mansion. Not our marble. Not our four car garage and personal theatre.

It’s God’s House.

The phrase “God’s House” is used over and over again in the Scriptures to refer to the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s the place where God’s Name is to be worshiped and praised. It’s the place where the Presence of God dwells among His People. It’s the place where the Heavenly Realm and the Earthly realm (the heavens and the earth) meet together.

And, whether we’re talking about the House of God below, or the House of God above – we’re talking about a place that is, first-and-foremost, God’s.

Jesus promises to prepare a place in His Father’s house for us. And that’s where this passage strikes me in the gut: In God’s House, where His Name is worshiped, and where He dwells…I have a place. A spot.

Made ready just for me. By the Savior of the World.

I am invited in. You’re invited in. We’re invited in.

At that point I don’t care what the thread count is on the sheets, or how many inches the flat-screen 3D TV is above the fireplace.

We get a spot in God’s House. Prepared just for us.

Isn’t that enough?