My brother Jesse is eight years younger than me. I remember the day he was born in vivid detail and the day a week later when my Grandparents drove me home to meet him after staying with them for one agonizing week to let my parents get settled with the baby. When we turned onto the dead end road to my house my friend Kimmy Clifton road her bike as fast as she could up along the side of the car and waved frantically. I knew by the excitement on her face that she’d already seen him. Without thinking about it I opened the door of the car while my Grandfather was still driving and would have jumped out and run next to Kimmy’s bike if he hadn’t grabbed my arm-- down the road, into my new life with my brand new brother.
Because of the large age difference between Jesse and me I spent a lot of time taking care of him. The first word he ever said was “hi!” and it was to me. I played a thousand rounds of “See Saw” and “This Little Piggy” with Jesse and by the time my own son John was born decades later, I felt like an expert at caring for babies because I’d already had one.
This blurred parent/sibling feeling I have for my brother has resulted in a strange brain glitch. Whenever I’m in the same place with Jesse and John I’m incapable of consistently calling them the right names. John becomes Jesse and Jesse becomes John. In their presence the line between them blurs for me.
In this Sunday’s Gospel lesson Jesus is explaining his relationship to God and to his disciples. He says “ ….I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20) What on earth does this mean?
I have a seven-piece nesting doll. The outer doll is no more than an inch-and-a-half in height and the astonishing last doll in the center of the six is the size of a pebble. I love them because they make me think of generations of mothers and the miracle of how we come from one another. Even so, coming from one another is different than being in one another, not only for nine months but permanently. Plus, Jesus says it’s just as true we are “in” him and he is “in” us.
The only conclusion I can draw is that Jesus is describing a love that draws God, him and us so close that the lines between the three fade away.
What if God looks at you and Jesus and can’t get your names right because His love blurs those lines? What if the love inside of you is really Jesus himself?
All I know is that it wasn’t just me who tried to jump out of the car before it came to a stop. The Prodigal Son’s father went running into the street for his son, unable to wait for him a second longer. (Luke 15:11-32) At its most exposed Love has no sense of self. Love forgives faster than the brain can say ‘no’. Lines blur, sharp places disappear.
If God loves you like that, would it change anything in your life to believe it?
I have an amethyst locket that belonged to a friend who loved me unconditionally. When I touch it I remember who I am. Good prayers are like that; they don’t tell God anything new since God already knows you so well that he numbers the hairs on your head. But a good prayer will bring you back into the reality of that love that makes you who you are.
If you want to get there today, maybe a good prayer would be to say the words that Jesus says in John’s Gospel back to yourself as much as to him:
I am in my Father, Jesus is in me, and I am in him.
May we all believe him and live.
Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm