5/7/23, Year A, John 14:1-14 Rev. Katie Holicky, Assistant Rector
I really cherish these First Sunday Life Together services when we are all together. I think we have about five generations in one room. Intergenerational community that follows our beloved Jesus. Today, after worship we will have our Flower Side chat. We are going to have some good snacks and great fellowship as Johanna asks Carolyn and I some questions about the development of our intergenerational work here at St. Paul’s. I hope you’ll stick around for that. So I figured, let’s get that moving together now during worship. Today I am going to need your help. ALL of your help; ALL of us working together. Friends, might you help me out today while I am preaching?
“In my God’s house there are many dwellings”. There is room for everyone in God’s house and in the work of God.
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these”. When we do God’s work together we can do GREAT things in the name of God.
Here in John we find ourselves as Jesus begins what we call the “Farewell Discourse”, meaning he is sharing the last lessons he needs to with his friends. He wants to make sure they know how to carry on without his physical presence. This is a new way of life and community guided by love, and one that we know very well as people who have not physically had Jesus in the sense that the disciples did, but whose foundation of following Jesus is following his words (WBC, 525). More plainly, we are living in the community that Jesus is talking about. THIS is the embodied “way, truth, and life”.
“In my God’s house there are many dwellings”
I grew up in a Methodist church in Virginia in the 90s. It was the decade where the kids worship song “Big House” was huge. If you went to a Protestant church in the south and didn’t know this song… you truly were not paying attention. It was fun and engaging and had these great hand motions that went along with the chorus. Maybe you remember this song… or at least this part, which I have slightly adapted.
“Come and go with me
To my God’s house
Come and go with me
To my God’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots of rooms
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
It’s a big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
It’s my God’’s house
- So, who is God’s “house” for?
- Who gets to go to God’s house?
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these”
Ok, so now we are going to play a bit of a game. I found this game and lesson through Resources for Christian Education (RCE). “Simon says and does”. The way this works is that I’ll say “Simon says” and then the thing that I say, I will also DO. If what I say and what I do match each other, then you are supposed to do it, too. HOWEVER, if I what I do and what I say do NOT match, then you don’t do what I’m saying OR doing. Does that make sense?
Simon says “Clap your hands” [rhythmic clap]. Simon says “Stomp your feet” [rhythmic stomp]. Simon says “Shout “ALLELUIA”. [Repeat the three steps]: “Simon says “Clap your hands” ; Simon says “Stomp your feet”; Simon says “Shout ALLELUIA”.
Simon says “Do all three things at the same time really, really fast – clap, stomp, shout ALLELUIA”. Ok thanks, y’all! Simon says, “Sit down because the game is done”. Thank you for playing and for helping me with my sermon. You all were very good clappers, stompers, and Alleluia shouters.
In today’s scripture story, Jesus is talking to his disciples. And one of the things that he says is that they, the disciples, are going to do even greater things than Jesus has done. Wow! Another thing that Jesus tells the disciples is that he tells them HOW they will be able to do greater things than he has. The way the disciples will do the same and greater things as Jesus is by doing the very things that Jesus has been saying to them and then doing.
It’s almost like Jesus is playing a game of “Simon says and does” with his disciples. If we think back to the our “Simon Says and Does” game, why did you do the things that I did? Because I said AND did them, right? Although you were doing the same things as I was, and there were MORE of you doing those things. So you were doing them louder and greater than I was, right? So that’s the same thing that Jesus is telling his disciples: Do what I’ve said and do what I’ve done and when you do that together, then you will do what I have done…and because more of you are doing those things, it will be greater than what I’ve done.
We can do the same thing! We get to choose to be disciples of Jesus, where we learn all about what Jesus said and did AND THEN DO THEM! And when we do what Jesus taught and did, then we are doing what Jesus said his disciples would be doing in today’s story: The same things that Jesus did and even greater because there are more of us doing those things (RCE).
So, if we know that everyone who wants to follow God and Jesus gets to, and that when we work together, especially intergenerationally, we can do really, really great things in the name of God… I ask you…
- What of God’s work do we do together that you love?
- What of God’s work do you want to do more of?
- This one you don’t have to answer out loud unless you really want to… After hearing others share about God’s work in our community, how is God inviting you to be part of this work right now?
Friends, I know this was fun, at least it was for me. And it can also be hard sometimes to know just how to learn to work together to do those really great works in God’s name. So I want to remind you of how this Gospel reading started, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God and believe also in Jesus”. Now, look around this room. Really take a moment to see the faces around you. We can deeply trust in the truth that because we are committed to each other intergenerationally we can put down our troubled hearts and pick up the work of Jesus in new and creative ways… and together do greater things than he. May it be so!
Resources: “Big House” Song by Audio Adrenaline, Jewish Annotated New Testament, Resources for Christian Education, Women’s Bible Commentary,