Preparing a Place
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also." [John 14:1-3 NRSV]
This Scripture in the Gospel of John is one that I read quite regularly at funeral services, because it talks about Jesus preparing us a place in His Father’s house and coming back to take us there. The usual interpretation taken to mean that this place that Christ is preparing for us in the heavenly realm is one in which he prepares for us to spend eternity. However, we can look at this Scripture as speaking to us in our present time, as well.
In our sermon series during the month of August, we will be looking at John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, and his image of the House of Salvation. The porch is the symbol of the grace that God extends to all people inviting them into a relationship with God. The front door is the symbol of that decision to accept the Lordship of Christ in our lives and receive His gift of grace. And the inside of the house itself is a symbol of the ongoing grace at work in our lives that prepares us and enables us to engage the world around.
We can expand on the metaphor of the house to see how God’s loving presence is always with us to give us the comfort and grace we need to navigate our life’s journey. The house we inhabit is a place of comfort—a safe place to share our burdens and challenges, a place where we feel safe enough to share our deepest feelings with God.
As we enter the door, we do so in trust—trusting that once we have walked through the door, we are in a place of hope. A hope that we can rest in. Inside this house, within the walls there is an atmosphere of understanding and forgiveness that surrounds the entire scope of the house.
We feel at peace that there is a roof over our head— a roof that keeps us safe and secure, even during the storms in our lives. Furthermore, the entire house rests on a foundation of grace—the gift of acceptance through God’s unconditional grace that supports the house. This safe house has a sound footing for which a person going through a difficult journey feels comfortable stepping into—one that would not crumble beneath us at any time. For it is only when one feels free to be open without being judged, to be revealing and be accepted, can we openly allow our woundedness and brokenness to be open to the healing power and grace of God.
So, if we look back at this passage in John, we see Jesus saying that there are many dwelling places in His Father’s house. There is plenty of room in the Father’s house, a place that is prepared for us, that Christ takes us. And it is not any stretch of the imagination to compare these dwelling places in our Father’s house to a safe house, where we will find the Father and are in the presence of Christ. Jesus says, “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also ... I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is in the safe confines of the Father and the presence of Christ that we can be on the journey where we can be made whole in a place that Christ has prepared for us, and be made holy in God’s righteousness. So, we give thanks to God for coming before us to prepare a place for us, here and now, so that we can be on the journey toward wholeness and salvation in Christ.