Holy Wednesday: Abiding Places

Throughout Holy Week I’ll be directing you with artwork, words, and poems that are working themselves out in me. I’m thrilled to be sharing Jan Richardson‘s images with you each day. Her work is influenced by the liturgy and the contemplative life and it speaks so boldly to me. She has been gracious enough to allow us to have access to them. (Also, if you’re looking for more from her, she has a wonderful Lenten series on her blog, The Painted Prayerbook, right now.)

"Many Rooms" Copyright © 2012 Jan Richardson Images. All Rights Reserved.

On John 13:36 – 14:7

…They have just been told that one of their company is a traitor. They have seen Judas go out into the night. They have heard Peter warned that he will deny his master. It is therefore to a very deeply troubled group that Jesus says: “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

How could they fail to be troubled? Jesus himself was “troubled in spirit” (13:21) by the presence of treachery in his company. But now he gives them a command which echoes the repeated words of the earlier Jesus (Joshua) to the children of Israel as they faced the crossing of the Jordan and the entry to the promised land: “Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18)…The great Joshua is about to cross a deeper and wider Jordan to open a way by which the children of God may follow. The way is the way of faith—faith in God, and faith in him who leads us through the dark waters as the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2). Jesus had begun his ministry by a baptism in the Jordan. Now he is to complete his baptism by a total immersion in which all the powers of darkness will roll over him

Now, at the outset and as the ground for their reassurance, he tells them that there are many “abiding places” and all of them “in my Father’s house.” The Father’s house…is not a building made with hands. Nor is it another world beyond death. It is that new dwelling place of God in the Spirit which is constituted by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead…The death and resurrection of Jesus will inaugurate a new possibility–namely, that while we are still on the way, we shall have “a place” where we can already taste the joy of journey’s end, the joy of lovers’ meeting, the joy of being “with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17)…He is going to preapre a place for them where they may abide with him and he with them…there are many “abiding places” on the way, but they are all within the Father’s house.

-Leslie Newbigin, The Light has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel (178-179), emphasis mine

Isaiah 49:1-6 (ESV)

“Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified…’
And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him–
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength–
he says;
‘It is too light a thing that you should
be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;

I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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