CMC Worship in Place | Easter 5 | May 10

Easter 5

Welcome and Call to Worship | Julie Hart

Peace Candle | Nina Graber-Nofziger

As we meet today in spirit but not in person, we gather around these Sunday Meditations offered by members of the CMC community. Just as we light the Peace Candle to begin our worship, you are invited to light a candle for these Meditations. The flame joins us in spirit across distance, along with our sister church in Armenia, Colombia.

STJ 54 | Longing for light | Phil Hart

Scripture | Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 | Andrew Riel, Carolyn May, Kyle Kerley

Pastoral Prayer | Joel Miller

Scripture | John 14:1-12 | Andrew Riel, Carolyn May, Kyle Kerley

Children’s Time | Joel Call, Phil Yoder

HWB 553 | I am weak and I need thy strength | Phil Hart

*Sermon | The Way Home | Mark Rupp 

STJ 73 | The Lord lift you up | Phil Hart

Benediction | Julie Hart


Christian Education | A Mother’s Day Conversation with Edith | Interviewed by Joel Miller


*Sermon | The Way Home | Mark Rupp

As a visual for the sermon this morning, I invite you to walk a labyrinth with me as we contemplate what it means for Jesus to say “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Labyrinth walking is a practice that goes back a long time and has been used by many different people as a form of centering meditation.  A labyrinth is different from a maze in that it only has one path in and one path out; there is only one “way.”  While it is impossible to get lost in a labyrinth, the goal IS to get lost in thought, welcoming and noticing whatever questions, ideas, or images come and go as you walk.  

So join me, step-by-step, breath-by-breath on this journey. 


The Way Home


The night before Jesus died,

you can tell the moment the disciples realize

they’re measuring in minutes not months.

That upper room congregation

grasping a goodbye that began 

long ago.


The overdue soliloquy punctuated by pleas;

Please! Please?

Persistent insistence on next-step certainty.

Questions too little for time grown too late.  


“Lord, we do not know where you are going. 

How can we know the way?”


Teach us again how X marks the spot;

tell us which cross, streets, and forks we should take,

which hill we should climb to follow where you are going.


How can any of us know the way?


How do you say goodbye

when there’s not enough time to answer every question,

even if you could,

even if you wanted to?


“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Their strong fortress smiles reassuringly

as sands shift underneath that once sure foundation;

Their rock, their refuge, their rabbi,

offering promises of a place prepared for them

a dwelling, a home,

a shelter to abide while fast falls this eventide


How do you say goodbye with more than just a shrug,

when they’ve placed the whole world on your shoulders?




You wash their feet,

gentle touch imprinting on soles

memory most meaningful.

You paint them a picture in poetry

more mystery than map

more parable than proposition.

Offering metaphor strong enough to hang their heart 

when the heaviness sets in.

Yet flexible enough for the days 

when they need to bend far enough to touch the ground.


“How can we know the way?”


How can you not?


I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  

No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you know me, you will know my Father also.


Somewhere along the last 2000 years,

these words have transformed,

hermeneutical alchemy,

Lyrics turned to lead.

Ammo aimed like billboard ultimatums.

“I am the way” translated as, “My way or the highway”

To Hell with those who cannot swallow this truth,

and those whose life just can’t measure up.  


Visions of abiding where there is enough room for all

in this expanding mystery of oneness

somehow downsized to literal abodes in the sky.

The Great Lover traded for a Cosmic Landlord.

Parsing the architecture of a relationship,

cubits squared by post-mortem opulence.

We’ve become convinced the only Way 

worth its weight in gold 

is a street too impractical to lead anywhere useful

this side of Easter.


How do you say goodbye?


You point them toward home,

and assure them they already know the way.

And then you hope they know that home is not a place, 

that no single address can adequately address 

our longing for life,

our hunger for truth, 

because home is the quality of a relationship.


The night before my own father died

I measured the miles between me and home

in all the words I still needed to say.

Paragraphs piled up on the highway

next to mile markers showing just how long it had been.


Headlights illumined me as I rehearsed 

both sides of the play I was writing 

Mile after mile after mile,

never sure whether the lines would end

in comedy or tragedy,

but certain there was no more time for masks either way.  


The first conversation I had with my dad after I came out,

he told me that the most important thing he wanted me to know

was that I would always be a part of the family;

There would always be a place prepared just for me.


It was more words than I’d ever heard him say at once.

It was more words than I’d ever imagined possible, 

In more ways than one.


Yet the years somehow calcified those initial sentiments.

A slow scale realization that my place in the family portrait was secured 

as long as I stayed within the frame.


So when does a room become a cell?

A space decorated with silence

and furnished with nothing more than the debris 

of our cast off longing to live truly free.


How do you say goodbye when goodbye 

feels like a bruise you’d convinced yourself had already healed

simply because you’d quit pushing your fingers

into that soft flesh?


We all knew he had been dying for quite awhile.

The cancer signaling farewell with words

no one needed to speak.

(Or maybe that is just our family’s way.)

But when the call came that evening

to tell me it was finally time to come home,

I realized we were now measuring not in months or minutes

but in moments. 


Two and a half hours to drive;

Two and a half hours to perfect that final moment.


And so I arrived with opening lines at the ready…

Only to find that he was too far gone for anything resembling 

the scripted conversation that I had prepared.  


How do you say goodbye

when you realize all the words you’d rehearsed

were those you most needed to say to yourself.  


I didn’t need to yell or scream

I didn’t even need to cry.  

I just needed him to know–

I needed me to know–

that even though our paths may have diverged

that I had found my way home.

And that I hoped he had too.  


When we are no longer tied to a way paved with other people’s dreams

to truth that tastes sour when it brushes our lips

or to life within walls that leave no room for dancing,

When the distance to heaven is measured 

by the magnanimous space between heartbeats

then we’ll know we’ve found our way home.