By

One of the least favorite things I

enjoy is shopping for cereal. The

cereal aisle in most grocery stores

seems endless. Boxes of cereal are

stacked from just above ground level

to towering 10 feet in the air. And,

while my taste buds are tempted by

the variety, suspicion of genetically

modified foods, bleached flour,

bountiful refined sugar and

unpronounceable ingredients keep me

searching literally for half an hour to

find a viable alternative to my

morning, tasteless, non-GMO

Cheerios. Within the copious amount

of cereal available, I must make a

choice as to what is the best one for

me.

We live in a world of options,

many, many options. We’ve come to

expect a variety of products and

opportunities as we increasingly value

expression of one’s individuality.

Though some continue to loudly

protest, we live in a diverse, inclusive

world.

Our planet is filled with a wide-

range of human expressions, cultural

expectations, and religious beliefs.

Within this reality we hear the words

of Jesus saying, “I AM the way, I AM

the truth, I AM the life. No one comes

to the Father except through me.”

Do we hear these words as

relentlessly exclusive?

Do we as Christians understand

and experience the value within Jesus’

words?

John wrote his Gospel within a

diverse world. But as in our world,

there are many choices each person

must make. Within the realm of

options, there are healthy choices and

there are unhealthy choices.

John’s Gospel is written with the

premise that “God so loved the world

that he gave his only Son, so that

whosoever believes in him may not

perish, but may have eternal life,

(intimate, abundant life with God).

For God did not send his Son into the

world to condemn the world, but that

the world through him might be saved

(John 3:16 & 17).

John’s Gospel reaches out in

compassion into a world with many

options. The Gospel tries to give

people a heathy choice for living in a

world where individual, societal and

religious expressions have the power

to draw us toward or away from the

God of love revealed in Jesus of

Nazareth.

Let’s take a minute and place

ourselves in the context of this Gospel

lesson. It takes place at a time before

Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus has shared a meal with his

friends and washed his disciples’ feet,

giving them an example of how to live

in service to God and others. Judas

has left the group to betray Jesus.

Now, Jesus continues preparing

his friends for his departure (death)

from them. He promises that he is

going to prepare a place so that all

who love him will one day be together

in God’s dwelling.

Thomas is confused. He doesn’t

understand what his friend and

teacher is trying to convey. “We don’t

know where you are going, how can

we know the way?” Jesus responds

with I AM statements.

He has used statements like these

before. I AM the bread of life; I AM

the light of the world; I AM the gate

for the sheep; I AM the good

shepherd; I AM the resurrection and

the life. Now Jesus says, “I AM the

way, I AM the truth, and I AM the

life.”

These I AM statements remind us

of Moses’ encounter with God on

Mount Sinai. From a burning bush

God’s voice called out to Moses to lead

the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to

the Promised Land.

Moses wasn’t convinced that

anyone would listen to him. Moses

said to God, “I am nobody. How can I

go to the king and bring the Israelites

out of Egypt?” He was afraid that

even the Israelites would think him a

mad-man. God answered Moses, “I

will be with you…”

Moses responded by asking,

“Who shall I say is sending me to do

these things?” God said, “I AM who I

AM. You must tell them: ‘The one who

is called I AM has sent me to you.”

(Taken from Exodus 3:6-14)

John’s Gospel proclaims that

Jesus reveals the God of Abraham,

Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the

prophets. Jesus makes known God

the Holy ONE known as I AM.

Jesus tells his disciples, “No one

comes to the Father except through

me” because Jesus of Nazareth

exposes the nature and presence of

the GREAT I AM.

Rather than hearing this through

our ‘inclusive / exclusive’

contemporary thinking, let’s hear this

as telling us of Jesus’ life-purpose.

It is his purpose to drawn all

people to a place of accepting and

living a meaningful, intimate, healing,

forgiving, loving relationship with the

One and Only God known as I AM.

A relationship with the GREAT I

AM through Jesus is so life-

transforming that it compels people,

like Stephen-the- deacon, to witness

and even fearlessly dying for this

relationship – with unshakeable

confidence in the GREAT I AM.

Today I want to express my

gratitude to I AM for Jesus and the

life I experience in our relationship.

And, my gratitude extends as well

to my Mom, my two Grandmothers

and my Great-grandmother. Without

these four Christian women I wouldn’t

have been given the many

opportunities to know and experience

the GREAT I AM through Christ

Jesus.

I remember each one of these

loved ones of mine reading scripture,

encouraging me to attend Sunday

School and worship, and inviting me

to build relationships with other

Christians for supporting my personal

journey of loving and serving the

GREAT I AM through my talents,

skills and passion.

My Mom still encourages me and

prays daily for me and my ministry.

This means more to me than words

can express.

In a world of many options, let us

live unapologetically our relationship

with God the GREAT I AM through

Christ Jesus. Like no other, Jesus

allows us to know and experience the

God of all creation – whose essence is

lavish love.

Live with boldness your

relationship with God.

Give people opportunities

through you to know and experience

God for themselves.

It is our responsibility and

privilege to help God continue

reshaping our world with justice,

compassion and mutual respect. IF

we, like our example Jesus, live and

share the GREAT I AM’s lavish love,

positive change will happen – in us

and the world.

 
St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.