Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter - Confirmation

Text: John 14:6
Thomas said to Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; so how can we know the way to get there?" Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me".

 

Finding the way

Friends, especially, Jubilee, Samantha, Tristian, Benjy and Daniel.

You want to go from point A to point B. Sometimes itís easy. You want to get to a shop near where you live for some bread and milk. You know how to get there, which is the shortest way, how long it will take if you walk or if you ride your bike, and when you get there you know itís the right place because you have been there lots of times before. You may even know the people who work there and give you a friendly welcome.

Sometimes itís not so easy to find your way, especially when you donít know exactly where the place is that you want to go to. Letís say you wanted to go to 745 Rochedale Road, Rochedale. How do you find this place?

Well, you could just take a good guess where it is. You know Rochedale is on the south side of Brisbane so off you go hoping that you will get lucky and find the place. You know itís not going to be easy because itís on the other side of the city and itís obviously a long road with lots of houses but you hope that it wonít be too hard.

Another thing you could do before leaving is look up the address in a street directory. You could plot out the exact course but of course you could still take a wrong turn, miss an exit off the motorway or find it difficult to find number 745.

Something else you could use is one of these Ė a GPS. You can enter the exact address where you are going and it will tell you the best way to get there. A voice will tell you when to make turns and announce when you have reached your destination. But these arenít full proof or better Ďfool proofí. When we were looking for our sonís place in Edinburgh Scotland, this machine got us to the right street and announced that we had reached our destination but we still couldnít find the right house. It didnít tell us that the street had two sections, we were close but we had to enter the street from the other end.

In the end sometimes the best thing to do is to ask someone who is a local, who knows the streets, and might even know exactly where 745 Rochedale Road is. (Stop smiling ladies because you know from experience that men hate to ask any one for directions). I have followed my wifeís good example and learnt how to ask for directions. The person you ask might even draw a mud map on a bit of paper. He/she may know exactly where to go because they have been past there many times before. 745 Rochedale Road is the address of Redeemer Lutheran College and you know when you get there because the name is written in big bold letters on the entrance.

Ask someone who knows Ė thatís what Thomas, Jesusí disciple did. Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection and that he was going to prepare a place for them so that they will be where he is. You know the way Jesus said. But Thomas who was one of those people who was upfront and honest about what was going on his head. He wasnít afraid to say, "But Jesus we donít know where you are going, so how can we know how to get there?"

And Jesus reply?
"I am the way, the truth and the life; no one goes to the father except by me". I want to focus on just the first 4 words of what Jesus said to Thomas.
"I am the way".
Today Jesus is confirming his promise to you to always be your friend and Saviour along your way through life.

"I will show you the way,
I will guide you along the way,
I will help you as you travel along the way of life,
I will keep on loving you and forgiving you even when you wander away
and welcome you back when you find your way back again.
In fact, I am the way, the only way through life here on earth and then through death into eternal life.
This is the truth; itís a promise that I will keep no matter what may happen.
This is the only way to a good life; a happy life filled with confidence in the face of struggles and problems and the absolute joy of eternal life in heaven."

Once I lived close to Adelaide in South Australia. I lived in hills that in winter would be covered with fog. The road to Adelaide twisted and turned to go around and over the Mt Lofty Ranges. (These days there is a tunnel that goes under those hills).

Sometimes the fog along this road was so thick that I could only see a few metres in front of the car. That was very scary.
I knew that down to the left there was a long drop to the valley below if I ran off the road.
There were other cars on the road coming towards me that I could only see through the fog at the last minute.
I couldnít see the lines on the road and wasnít too sure whether I was even on my side of the road.
Because I couldnít see any landmarks I wasnít even too sure where along the road I was and how far I had to travel before the road went down into Adelaide and the fog would disappear.

What should I do to avoid running off the road?
I couldnít stop because there was nowhere to stop and if I did someone might run into the back of me? I was starting to panic. I could disappear over the side and no one would know that I was missing if the fog lasted all day.

Just then the lights of a bus came up behind me. It had special fog lights and the driver could see the road ahead through the fog. He was able to travel along at a cautious speed in order to get the passengers safely to their destination. I pulled over as far as I could to let the bus pass and as it passed someone on the bus (I think it was a co-driver who could see the worried look on my face) looked at me through the window of the bus and with much hand waving signalled me to follow him.

I stayed behind the bus, following its tail lights down and around, up and over the hills. With the bus guiding me I felt a lot happier and more confident and soon found myself out of the fog in Adelaide. I never met the driver or whoever it was who signalled me to follow but to me he was saying, "Come on; follow me. I know the way. I can lead you safely through this murky mess. Stay close to me and I will guide you around the twists and turns".

Today Jesus is making this same offer to you and assuring you that his commitment to you is sure and strong and his love for you as an individual, whom he has made and saved, will never fade. Along the way through life you will reach foggy patches that could end in disaster.
This might come in the form of disappointment over the way events in your life have turned out. You realise that certain dreams that you have had will never come true.
One of those foggy patches might be the occasion when you donít know what to do next or what will happen next. If only you could see ahead a bit better. But you canít and so you are anxious, worried, upset and see the future as being very grim.
One of those foggy patches might be when you lose your way. You make some bad decisions. These get you into some kind of trouble or difficulty. You are sorry that the choices you made were wrong but there are still the consequences of that bad choice that you have to live with.
One of those foggy patches might be when you suffer pain, suffer from an illness or are hurt in an accident, or maybe a friendship breaks up, or you are sad because someone you love has suddenly died.

Jesus says to you, "Come on; follow me. I know the way. I can lead you safely through this murky mess. Stay close to me and I will guide around the twists and turns".

Jesus made that kind of offer to you at your baptism and now he reaffirms his commitment to you in your confirmation. It follows then that an offer like that requires that we commit ourselves to following Jesus because he has so much to offer us as we travel along lifeís way. Psalm 37 says it this way, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust him, and he will help you".

That is a challenge for all of us. I know you will make mistakes, some of them mighty big mistakes.
You will get off track in your Christian life. Leave the road Jesus wants you to go and get sidetracked by all kinds of things in our world.
You will wonder at times what the point of all this Christian stuff is.
I know this because thatís the experience of us all. We may waver to and fro in our commitment to Christ but his commitment to us never changes. We are thankful that Jesus keeps on saying to you and to us all, "Come on; follow me. I know the way. I can lead you safely through this murky mess. Stay close to me and I will guide around the twists and turns. After all, I am the way, the truth and the life".

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
20th April 2008
E-mail: gerhardy65@hotmail.com

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