Easter 5A: John 14:1-14. St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Lake Jackson, Texas.
This Way, That Way, Circle Way, Center Way … there are lots of Ways in downtown Lake Jackson. It’s part of the charm of this town.
We’ve also been feeling a lot of ways: lonely way, sad way, panicky way, worry way, angry way, irritated way, exhausted way, scared way.
Alden Dow would never name a street after some of the ways we’ve been feeling.
But it’s important to name these feelings because it’s part of life right now — part of life during the pandemic and part of life at St. Timothy’s after Brendan’s unexpected departure.
Now, this is not a map of downtown Lake Jackson, but a map of the Emotional Life Cycle of Disaster, courtesy of Episcopal Relief & Development.
And as you can see, we are somewhere around here: Disillusionment, Working Through Grief. And right now, each of us can be at different places on this map. But look — it is not a smooth ride!
So, if you’re feeling a lot of feelings — and intense feelings. Such as the kind that burn in your chest, or make you tremble, or cause you to forget things and it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to focus … that is normal. It is not fun, but it is normal right now.
Whenever I have these intense moments, I recall something from my early days of parenting. When my children were very young and they would start to fall apart, I’d say: I think it’s time for a time-out. And what I learned was that sometimes Mommy needs a time-out.
And so, I take a time-out.
I wonder what your time-out looks like? Maybe you talk to a friend, exercise, start an artwork, play music, pray.
For me, I start every morning with a time-out by praying the office of Morning Prayer with Forward Movement’s podcast “A Morning at the Office.”
And then throughout the day when I find myself feeling a little unhinged, or panicky, or sad — some of the feelings we’re feeling right now — I notice and name those feelings and say to myself: whoa, I need a time-out.
And when I reconnect with the people whom I love and who love me, then I feel like I can face the next challenge. I can face the next hour. I can face the next day …
Being grounded in relationship …
That’s what Jesus is talking about with the disciples.
Jesus is the Way. Our relationship with him is the Way. The gospel passage we just heard is from John’s farewell discourse and it is “Jesus at his pastoral best.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” he says.
And think of that moment! This is all headed toward the cross, so things are feeling ominous, confused, frayed at the edges. A bit chaotic. I think we can relate to that.
And notice how Thomas leans in with his question: Lord, we do not know the way. How can we know? Tell us.
And so, Jesus does. He says: I AM the Way. When we abide in Jesus and in God’s love, we are safe and secure. It is there where we will always have a home. Even if — God forbid — we find ourselves without one in this life and we feel like we have lost our way. Jesus is the Way. The way home to God. Where we are safe, secure, and loved.
During this time, our hearts will be troubled — see Emotional Lifecycle of Disaster, for it is part of the process. There’s no going around it.
But we are not lost. We have a way: grounded in relationship with Jesus, we will find our way through all of this together. And it may, from time to time, feel like this way, and that way, and circle way … but the Spirit is always leading us to the heart of God.
Take a time-out for yourself to abide in Christ’s love — The Way. Where you are safe, secure, loved … and home.
The video version of this sermon can be found here, at approximately 17:35.
For more encouragement and a deeper dive into these dynamics and ways to minister to yourself and others during this time, please listen to Episcopal Relief & Development’s pandemic-related webinars, specifically “Addressing Isolation and Quarantine” from March 20, 2020.
 Anne Lamott Distills Prayer into “Help, Thanks, Wow.”
 Dr. Karoline Lewis. Podcast: Working Preacher Sermon Brainwave #723: Fifth Sunday of Easter.