As I sat in the parking lot outside of S’s Dance Studio yesterday, waiting to pick up FBC from her weekly foray into tap, ballet and tumbling, I was perusing my homiletical resources for Sunday when I noticed something I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before. In the opening section of Karyn Wiseman’s commentary on the John 14 text, I read the following:
“Part of [the preparation for Jesus’ imminent departure] included making sure all knew what was expected of his followers. Jesus states that loving him means obeying his teachings (verse 23). As a result of this obedience, “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (verse 23).“
I had never noticed the second half of verse 23 (above emphasis mine) before. Never. What an a amazing sentence to miss. This word, “home” is used only one other time in the New Testament Canon, also in John’s 14th chapter. This time, in a much more famous line from verse 2.
“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?”
The home of God, God’s abode, is, as the old hymn says, “Where true charity and love dwell” (The Hymnal 1982 #606). Which is, as you might expect, exactly what Jesus is saying in this little gem of a line. The truth of the matter is, however, my mind wasn’t immediately drawn to John 14.2, but rather all the way back to the Prologue, specifically Eugene Peterson’s treatment of the first half of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.“
Here’s how The Message translates 14:23-24, “‘Because a loveless world,’ said Jesus, ‘is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.'”
The promise for the disciples, looking square into the face of a future without Jesus, is that if they follow his word: if they love God and love their neighbor as themselves; the incarnation will be in them. Emmanuel, God with us, who took on flesh, became incarnate, moved into the neighborhood at Christmas will do the same thing in and through and for every disciple, who, living in the Spirit of God, seeks to do his will with love and charity. How freaking cool is that!?! And I’ve missed that line all these years! I might just preach that this week.