Jesus is the way; follow him to fullness of life

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Revd Rebecca Newland
Baptism of Jonah de Raadt, Easter 3C 14 April 2013

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20); John 21:1-19

I was in the supermarket the other day and I had a very disturbing moment. I wanted to buy some liquid soap to refill my containers at home. I found the section in the supermarket and then started to try and make a decision. There were six shelves of every possible brand and scent before me. I went into choice overload. What was I going to choose and how? On price, brand, value for money, smell, colour, environmental credentials, was it made in Australia, how do you decide this stuff? Does it matter?

I stood there for a while struggling with the choice and ended up feeling completely stupid. I mean how hard is it to choose liquid soap? I did finally choose but the whole experience brought to mind what I think is our very modern or if you like post-modern dilemma, at least in this country —overwhelming choice from liquid soap to paths of enlightenment. There are so many ways to go, so many paths to follow, so may different options.

In the first reading we heard how around two thousand years ago a brand new path to follow was opened up for a man called Saul. Saul was a zealous protector of his religion and he had obtained permission to take prisoner any men and woman, who belonged to the Way, the way of Jesus. I love this phrase that describes the early Christians—the People of the Way. On the road to Damascus, Saul has an experience of the risen Jesus. He becomes Paul and now he too belongs to the Way.

He no longer persecutes, tortures and kills others. Now he follows the path of Jesus Christ. Choices were much more limited back then, but there were choices, there were different paths to follow.

Today a choice has been made for little Jonah. His parents, Johanne and Hilde have decided to have him baptized into the way of Jesus Christ. Out of all the choices available to them they have chosen this one. In time Jonah will have to decide if he wants to continue on the same path.

So many choices, so many possibilities! How do we end up choosing one path over another? I for one ended up choosing the way of Christ because out of all the other things I had tried—and I had tried a veritable cornucopia of experiences, a supermarket of philosophies and spiritual pathways—out of all those possibilities the Christian way was the one that made the most sense, was the most internally coherent and perhaps most importantly it truly brought me home to God and my true self via the way of Christ. To help you see where I am coming from perhaps it would help if I gave you the swamp baptism talk I give to all the parents who bring their child for baptism. If you follow my thread it will all become clear :)

Jesus says to Peter, "Follow me". Jesus says to all us, "Follow me". We hear the call in different ways and at different times. We hear it over and over again. And whatever our response, Jesus keeps saying. "Follow me". To follow Jesus is to have a relationship with him in some way. There is someone to follow, someone to talk with, someone to be challenged by. There is this loving, forgiving person who is our brother and friend but also our conscience if you like, always leading us in the direction of truth and light. To follow Jesus is to bring nourishment to those he cares for.

But to follow Jesus means to go where we may not necessarily want to go. It may even mean into difficult and painful places. Following Jesus means the cross as well as the resurrection. It means dying to something but it is ultimately about living for something good and beautiful and true.

My daughter once said to me about my faith, "But Mummy, what if it is not true, What if you die and there is no god, no heaven, what then"? I replied, "Well if it is not true I would have lived the most wonderful life, I would have dreamed the most glorious possibilities and lived my way down into them, my life would have been full of meaning, and love and joy. I would have journeyed with the friend and brother of my heart, Jesus Christ, and that would be enough, that would be OK".

It is the journey that is important, not the destination. It is the God we choose to follow that creates our reality. It is the companions we choose along the way that makes the difference. May our journey together bring life and nourishment to others and may Jonah's journey in the Way bring him and others blessing and joy Amen.

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.