O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.
Why are the nations in tumult,
and why do the peoples devise a vain plot?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his anointed:
‘Let us break their bonds asunder
and cast away their cords from us.’
He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn;
the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak to them in his wrath
and terrify them in his fury:
‘Yet have I set my king
upon my holy hill of Zion.’
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord;
he said to me: ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.
‘Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
‘You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
Now therefore be wise, O kings;
be prudent, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet,
lest he be angry and you perish from the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all they
who take refuge in him.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’
Today’s reading will be especially familiar as one of the most well-loved readings for funerals and memorial services. As Jesus makes clear the fate that awaits him he also promises that he is going ahead of his disciples to prepare a place for them in God’s heavenly kingdom. Thomas, who was destined to become remembered as ‘Doubting Thomas’, questioned Jesus over how they might eventually come into that place of peace and rest. Jesus responds by saying that the route is one of true discipleship because Jesus himself is the way, and the truth, and the life. Considered in this way, there can be little wonder that those who are mourning the passing of a loved one find such comfort in these words. But, the learning of one of Jesus’ great ‘I am’ statements should not be seen as the end of the story.
As we have considered in recent days, Jesus is indeed the Way. However, that way is not necessarily an easy one. That way is one of love and service for all. That way is one of obedience and faithfulness when it comes to following all the teachings of Jesus. That way is also the way that may lead us into pain and hardship as we strive to be seen as worthy of one of those many dwelling places prepared by Jesus himself.
So much of Jesus’ teaching flew in the face of the received wisdom of contemporary rulers and scholars. And yet, that teaching is indeed the truth. We are challenged to set aside our worldly wisdom and to follow the truth laid out by Jesus. That takes courage and determination because so much of that truth will bring us into direct opposition with the self-centred and self-serving teachings of the world in which we live.
If we do find the strength and the courage to follow Jesus as both the way and truth, then comes the rich reward of life, life everlasting in God’s nearer presence. This is a prize that cannot be bought at any price other than the price of loving and faithful discipleship.
As we ponder these well-known words, let us pray that we might come to know their reality as we wend our way through the mazes and pitfalls of our human life. Let us pray that we might one day inherit our dwelling place, the place prepared for us by Jesus himself.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray in faith to God for the Church and for the world.
As we have become your people by grace, make us more worthy of our calling. Lead your Church to follow Jesus in all things as the way, the truth and the life.
Spread your healing presence in a world where many cannot bear to hear the truth. Give grace and power to those who seek to do great works in the name of Christ.
Use us as living stones to build a community in your name. Keep us, our families and friends, in the true way.
Soothe the hearts that are troubled and guide the feet that do not know the way. Grant, to all who suffer, the vision of Christ risen and glorified, at the right hand of the Father.
May the Lord who has gone before to prepare a place for us, receive the souls of the faithful and grant them the perfect knowledge of his love.
We pray in the name of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Prayer for the week
risen from the dead and alive for evermore:
stand in our midst as in the upper room;
speak your peace to our hearts and minds;
and send us forth into the world as your apostles;
for the glory of your name.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,
and truth shall set you free
to seek and find the way to life
and live that life in me.
Robert Willis (b. 1947)