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How Can We Know the Way?

John 14:1-14 and An Excerpt from Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brene Brown

May 7th, 2023


Fifth Sunday of Easter

Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche


Good morning and welcome again on what is in our tradition the fifth Sunday of Easter and what is our congregation May Pole Sunday, yay! Thank you Jackie and others for last Sunday! As we come to this part of our gathering, I invite you as you are moved to take some deeper breaths, to tune into your heartbeat, as we let ourselves arrive a bit more fully, as we hope to receive whatever word God has for each of us and all of us on this day.


And as you are moved join me in this preacher’s prayer from Psalm 19.


Gracious God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


We are living in a time of rapid changes. While change is always a part of life, part of how the Cosmos functions, it seems that the pandemic forced an increased pace, for some of the changes that were already underway. And it seems like coming out of it, change is all around.


I have surprised myself at my own- what I have deemed to be middle age grumbling at some of these changes- I have noticed myself complaining about shifts to things like cashless payments and only being able to pay for parking through an app or having the only option at a restaurant be to scan a QR code. Is anyone else annoyed with that? Recently I found myself nearly begging a server “Can I please have a paper menu?”


There have been changes in how we shop, how we travel, how we checkout at the grocery store, how we dress. In the pandemic, purchases of clothing went down dramatically but purchases in sweatpants increased 80%. I love that!


Even Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue admitted that the whole fashion eco system is being forced to reimagine. She said, “It crystallized a lot of conversations that the fashion industry had been having for some time,” “For an industry that is meant to be about change, sometimes we take a long time to do just that…now we were really forced into a moment when we had to reset and rethink.”


Recently, a relative of mine lamented about this change- there is no uniform anymore, no rules about how we dress. “Why do people wear sneakers with suits? Or with prom dresses?” I am so glad people are dancing comfortably!


There have been changes in how healthcare and education happens and there have even been changes in the format of our local newspaper. I have followed these changes with delight? Here is an op-ed from a few weeks ago.


“Boulder is a community of seniors and a newspaper is their link to town. Most of them like to sit down with their coffee and read the paper every morning. They do not want to go on their computer…” (the paper) “used to be so nice…now it’s frustrating and makes me angry, please go back to the old layout!”


We are living in a time of so many changes that what was once called America’s pastime is in the middle of some dramatic evolutions. My husband grew up in Boston and as some of you know being a Red Sox fan is really something like a religion more than just a sport, so as the spring season begins, I have followed the talk of what some have said is “almost a new game…”


For years now, fans said the game had become boring- balls being put into play were reduced dramatically from previous years and so were the number of strikeouts. In a time when people wanted action in their sports, baseball was mostly long pauses, time between the good stuff where the audience would wait impatiently for the pitcher to adjust his stance for the 10th time or twist his hat yet again. As Steve Kettmann wrote in an article recently, “Too often in past years too many pitchers killed time on the mound and too many batters around the plate- by stepping out after every pitch to adjust the batting glove, scratch an itch, or just plain preen.”

Which is exactly what they were doing while we all waited. Then because of that and other things, the games would regularly go on and on and soon it was normal for them to be more than 3 hours. So baseball can no longer claim the title of America’s favorite sport, not long ago Major League Baseball went about figuring out what they would do to change.


And because of this and because of all of these changes that surround us, because we are living in a time of rapid change, I have found myself wondering how do we know what to hold onto? What do we grumble about and surrender to? And also what do we refuse to let change? Are you with me?


What do we let evolve because we see that it must, in order to continue to exist because we love it too much to let it die? And what should remain the same?


How do we know what to do?


How can we know the way to go?


That is the question asked of Jesus in this part of the Gospel of John where he is giving him instructions yet again before he leaves them. Like he is trying one last time to tell them what to do before they forget. It is a genre of literature called a Farewell Discourse and it is similar in format to farewell letters found in Greco-Roman literature such as Plato’s account of Socrates’ Farewell for example. That would be in the orbit for that time. And while Jesus probably didn’t actually say these words as this was written about 60 years after he died, I still think this scripture has wisdom for us.


I understand the point to be in part: don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe that you already have what you need. In God’s realm, in the realm beyond human perception, there are many possibilities…You don’t have to know where you are going to know the way….


Before Jesus followers were even called Christians they were called People of the Way and part of what that means to me is that if we choose Jesus as our teacher, we choose curiosity over certainty. We choose being a people of the Way, of an ongoing process, a people committed to evolution, to changing as we go and grow deeper…

What do we let evolve in relationships, in our lives, in church? How do we welcome change because we love the thing too much to let it die?


Back to baseball. Even though it could no longer claim the title of America’s favorite sport, Steve Kettmann said that when he first heard of the idea of a pitch clock he hated it. But when he saw this change put into place on that diamond, he loved it. He said the game was injected with energy, action and intrigue. Alden Gonzalez, a reporter for ESPN declared that some finally realized that the younger generation just wanted to have more fun and the changes have been like just letting the kids play!


We are indeed living in a time of rapid changes and not everything from the past can come with us into the present, so how can we know the way? What if part of the answer is this: knowing how little we know, turning to wonder instead of judgment, curiosity over certainty. Asking whether it adds love or increases connection not whether it looks like what has always been.

I don’t think that all of the changes that are coming should be embraced, but I do think it is part of our call as people of faith to be willing to do what Major League baseball is daring to do. In our individual lives and in our communal life as a church- this moment invites us to stop and ask some new questions: What should come with us as it was? And what should we let evolve because it must, in order for the thing to continue to exist? What within us or our relationships or even in our own selves, what do we need to leave behind and let it die and what must evolve so it goes on? Maybe the answer is to show up in sweats or with a new format or showing up looking for more play? We don’t have to know where we are going, to know the way… May it be so. Amen.



©Rev. Nicole Lamarche




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