Monday, December 22, 2008
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me." John 14:1
We had a meal the other night after the big snow fall that was based on the our notion of comfort food. Now, not everyone has the same idea of what comfort food is, but in our house, a meal of comfort food has to include macaroni and cheese, or it's not a real comfort food meal. Some find comfort in a big family gathered around a table. Others find comfort in quiet solitude or the company of a good book. Some find comfort deep under the covers and others in walks deep in the woods. Some take the notion of comfort too far and what they used for comfort has became their addiction. Comfort is both personal and cultural -how we were raised often determines where we find comfort. That means that what can comfort us may be what our family provided or the polar opposite of what our family provided. Each of us understands comfort though, and our need for it at particular times. Although our timing and what defines comfort varies widely, the regular need for comfort is universal.
The title of the opening of chapter 14 in John's gospel is 'Jesus comforts His Disciples'. These words are often read at funerals, chosen to reassure the bereaved that their loved one will find room in God's presence after death. Jesus promises his disciples that there are many rooms in God's house and a place is prepared for each of us there. The disciples will recall these words after Jesus has left them, although the words may have been puzzling when said. Thomas even asks to understand where Jesus is going. But for us humans, now is not the time or the place to understand and that can be very vexing. Particularly at holiday times, when traditions of all sorts are foisted upon friends and families, many often wonder why we go to all the trouble only to be so frustrated and undone. Many people run from gatherings because they find little comfort there. Not enough comfort and too much pain and anxiety. We need comfort, now more than ever. Jesus' words reassure us about the end of our lives, but what about right now?
I take comfort in the words "in my father's house are many rooms." There are many ways to be a faithful person, many ways to celebrate, many ways to witness to God's love in our lives. Right now, God's reign is in diversity, not in similarity. God household is built for the quirky, the artistic, the silent and the loud -and everyone in between all the extremes. God's place is big enough for us to find comfort and reassurance today, in our very own ways. Today, I want to be an agent of God's comfort. I want open my heart to the diversity of God's household. May we all open our hearts to God's diversity around us, within us, and for us. For God's arms reach wider than we can imagine. No tradition can constrain them, and we are invited to settle into the loving arms of God and be comforted this day.