“Commit to Rest: Preparing for What’s Next” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope this letter finds you healthy, happy, and rested. I know for many of us, the new school year is either here or rapidly approaching. Just a reminder that this Sunday is the last day to bring in school supplies which will get a special blessing in worship this week. My prayers for each of you continue so that what comes next in this season, whether it is school, vacation, new jobs, or just continuing on, is met with the energy and passion needed to do so well. It is also a busy time in the life of the overall church. We have SoulFood, LatinX, YASS, Worship, Online, and Commit 2019 ministries to breathe new life into, and they would not be as successful as they are without your participation. We are so grateful for the ways you have rested your body and spirit enough to continue supporting our ministries.
This week is another scripture chosen by our congregation. And we are moving from the Hebrew Bible into the New Testament. Specifically, the book of John. I will admit, for years the book of John was the gospel account I resonated with least, but in the past few years it has become one of my absolute favorites and has inspired my ministry and grown my faith in ways that I was unaware I needed. So, I am very excited to be in this book this week.
I have a lot of young people in my life and I am so thankful for each of them. Over the past month, when I have talked to them on the phone, on FaceTime, or even in person many of them have shared with me their excitement about the pending school year. One of them even got his very first backpack for kindergarten and was so excited to share with me all the things he planned to put in it. He listed off the new “twisted color” crayons that his “Gran” (Grandma) got him, and his favorite book, Clifford. After listening to him share his excitement for school I told him he sounds very prepared for this new time in his life. He agreed.
Being prepared for what comes next means that we have to talk about the future. Even if it’s scary. Even if the plans we hope for are a little late to fruition. And especially if we are excited.
I said it last week in worship, but I believe in a spirit who knows what we need well beyond what we think we want, and that I knew the spirit would provide us with scripture that would do just that. Friends, we have a very faithful God. This week’s scripture does just that. Our text from John reminds us, that just like my young friend going to school for the first time, we have to prepare for what is to come. In this week’s scripture Jesus reminds us that there is room for all of us in the kindom of God. For all of the baggage we bring. For all of the joy we exude. But that he (read we) have to prepare for it. Even Jesus needed a minute to get ready. Let’s read together this invitation to prepare ourselves for what’s next from the Gospel of John.
“14:1 ”Don’t let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God;
have faith in me as well.
2 In God’s house there are many dwelling places;
otherwise, how could I have told you
that I was going to prepare a place for you?
3 I am indeed going to prepare a place for you,
and then I will come back to take you with me, that where I am
there you may be as well.
4 You know the way that leads to where I am going.”
5 Thomas replied, “But we don’t know where you’re
going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:1-5)
I love the words used in this translation. “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you.” Specifically, I like the word “going” and what it tells us about Jesus’s intentions. He is going to prepare, meaning he intends to do it. He has cast that vision, planned that time, and is moving toward that time of preparation. And then he is also physically going to do it. It’s an invitation to dream and act all at once. I imagine this scripture leading my young friend’s Gran as they talked about going to school (intention) and then going and getting his backpack and crayons (physically preparing). Then like Jesus and each of us, she will walk with him to his first day of school, a new time in his life that will shape his spirit and feed his mind irrevocably. They knew this time was coming, and they prepared.
Friends, what is coming up in your life that you need to prepare for and what do you need to do to get ready? Jesus is reminding us that we have been told- and shown- what is coming but we need to take the time to mentally and physically prepare for it. Let this month’s commitment to rest and our community’s commitment to prayerfully support you in this endeavor, help you faithfully prepare for what’s next on your journey.
A quick prayer for your week: God, I am preparing myself for what you bring next. Amen