Friday, February 10, 2006

Thanksgiving for the Life of Meck Melton

Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23; John 14:1-6

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Jesus’ words are meant for comfort, but they also confound. Our hearts are troubled, anxious, grieving, broken. How could they not be? There is a space in our lives that was not there before, a distance between us and Meck.

The disciples’ hearts were troubled that day because Jesus had just told them that he would not always be with them. At least, that’s what they thought they heard him say. They imagined the space that Jesus would leave, and as they wandered anxiously, fearfully, through that vast space in their troubled hearts, they did not hear him say that his death would forever close the distance between us and God.

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 myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going?

Thank goodness for Thomas, who was more than once brave enough (because he was troubled enough) to tell Jesus that this kind of comfort was confounding. Lord, we do not know the way where you are going. How can we know the way? Thomas was dreaming of what we all dream of when there is an impossible distance to cross – dreaming of a way from here to there. A way to not lose what we think is being lost. A way to not be left behind. A way to believe that the journey of life is not ended in the valley of the shadow of death.

Thank goodness for Meck, who would more than once, indeed, who with his whole life would tell us that we, like Thomas and the rest of the disciples, were hearing Jesus all wrong. Jesus wasn’t going anywhere that he wasn’t going to invite his disciples, including us, to follow. And he wasn’t going to send his disciples, including us, anywhere that he wasn’t prepared to go first.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places, Jesus promises, and I go to prepare a place there for you. The journey of life is not ended in the valley of the shadow of death but is begun anew in the light of Jesus’ resurrection, and we will dwell, remain, abide with him in the house of the Lord forever. That where I am, you may be also, Jesus promises.

But these words, too, might be confounding and of little comfort if it were not for our broken hearts, where, in the light of his life among us, Jesus prepared a dwelling place for God, as if to say, that where you are, I may be also.

God dwells with us here and now as surely as we will dwell with God eternally. That is comforting, even in the valley of the shadow of death. We see more clearly the way, the truth, and the life, when we let the light that already dwells in us shine through the seams and cracks and broken places of our hearts. From some, like Meck, that light pours out. By his kindness, his tender love and care for his wife and family and friends, his courageous work for justice, his tireless commitment to community, his faithful leadership in Christ’s body, the church, by these things and more, Meck knew the way that Jesus was going.

Though our hearts may be anxious and grieving, let them not be troubled. Jesus dwells with us even in this valley, now shot through with resurrection light. Amen.

No comments: