Give Us, O Lord, a GPS

By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from the Gospel of John 14:1-7
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In 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? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  


In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the apostles that a place is already prepared for them in his Father’s house, and to reach this place, the apostles already know the way. Thomas then pipes up, giving voice to what the rest of us are thinking: Lord, that does not make sense. We do not know where you are going, so how can we possibly know the way?

We have our GPS all ready to go, but a disembodied voice will not start barking directions until we put in a destination. We might be fine following for a time, but what if we get separated? Can’t Jesus just give us an address and we can go on and meet him there? We might even find a faster route with fewer tolls.

Of course, we know there are not multiple route options to reach the Father. We know we must trust Jesus to come and find us if we take a wrong turn. He told us he is coming back for us. We know this. Yet, like Thomas, we get in our own way and behave as if we do not know.

Saint Augustine puts it this way: “They knew, but they did not know that they knew.” Do we really believe that Jesus — the Son born in a manger because the world had no room prepared for him — will lead us to the Father, who already has a room reserved for each of us?

Jesus seems to have some terrible navigation skills. Sometimes he takes us by the same place multiple times, sometimes through dicey neighborhoods, sometimes through barren landscapes with few rest areas. Sometimes he just stops in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, and sometimes he seems to disappear entirely and we’re left waiting for him to show back up again. If I could reframe Thomas’s question: Lord, we do not know where you are going, can’t we just meet you there? We need to be reminded continually, but we do, in fact, already know the answer to that question.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman, ballet teacher, and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas


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