Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [person], unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.8
The places Christ is preparing for us are just what we need.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2 KJV)
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. (John 14:2 NRSV) 10
Cleland Boyd McAfee wrote in his hymn,12
There is a place of quiet rest…
A place where sin cannot molest…A place of comfort sweet…A place where we our Savior meet…A place of full release…A place where all is joy and peace…
Near to the heart of God.
Reginald Fuller, in his book Preaching the Lectionary, suggests that this passage is perhaps designed to inform new converts of “the nature of the community into which they are being admitted.”14 Like the grand idea of America as a melting pot, Christ, as we say in our baptismal covenant, “has opened [the Church] to people of all ages, nations, and races.”15 Our Inclusiveness statement, adopted unanimously by the church council five years ago, says,
Christ has prepared a place of full inclusion in the life and ministry of the church.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5 KJV)13
We invite everyone to share fully in the worship services, life, ministry, and leadership of Briensburg United Methodist Church, inclusive of age, race, nationality, gender, LGBTQ, theology, politics, and legal status.16
I loved hearing this excerpt from the Coronation Prayer of King Charles,
Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and belief, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace.17
Christ prepares a place of wholeness, love, and mercy for all people.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. (Psalm 31:16 KJV)
Look on your servant with kindness; save me in your constant love. (Psalm 31:16 GNT)18
It is not a far stretch to add to the examples Jesus gave in Matthew in his parable about the Judgement of the Nations, something like, “I was homeless, and ye gave me shelter, a refugee, and ye gave me sanctuary.” “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these… ye have done it unto me.”19 Mercy and kindness urge nations and their citizenries to emulate Christ in preparing places for everyone, especially their most vulnerable populations.
Most people want to live in peace and harmony with each other and accord everyone the freedom and rights, and fairness they want for themselves. In other words, “love thy neighbor as thyself.”20 Sacramentally, we express that longing as we gather around the Eucharistic Table. Gordon Thompson 21 taught in a class on Sacraments that for us as United Methodists, the mystery is not only what is happening on the communion table but also around the communion table in the hearts and minds of those who gather. We share this point of intersection, that we love God and desire to live in peace and harmony with each other.
We are invited to network with others who share the vision of Christ “that we all may be one.” We are invited to meet those who join us at each table we gather around in those places Christ prepares for us every day. We are invited to embrace what other people bring to the table, even as we share with them what we bring to the table.
And the Christians brought the bread.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
A Place for All Y’all
Manuscript of the sermon preached by Rev. Bill Lawson on May 7, 2023,
at Briensburg United Methodist Church
Bible Readings for the 5th Sunday of Easter, Revised Common Lectionary
Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14