My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:2-3 (NIV)
These verses are profound. Jesus comforted his disciples amid rising anger, loud voices, and his impending death. This person, who had led, guided, and loved the disciples would also soon leave them. They were scared. Knowing this, Jesus invoked a particular analogy to help them understand that he was not truly leaving. Quite the opposite. He would sacrifice his life to show them the way—the doorway—to enter where they would find a special place: A loving, eternal home.
This scripture has not always been comforting. The first time that I really heard it was December 7, 1990—the day before my mom’s 55th birthday. I was at her funeral.
The pastor of my childhood church read the verses. They were baffling and seemed empty.
The years after the loss of my mom left me struggling. I could not find God’s presence. There was no voice from a burning bush, no lightning strike knocking me blind so that I could see. I remember during this period asking a question of my grandmother, my mom’s own mother. She and my grandfather founded a church in the 1950s (that continues today). She twinkled. She loved to visit and laugh, and she held unwavering faith despite losing both of her children, her first grandchild, and her husband of 65 years.
“Where do you find God?” I asked. Her cozy kitchen table held our tea, her framed needlepoint artwork hung on the wall above us. She paused and then looked at me with her warm brown eyes: “I see God in the eyes of others.”
That’s where I look, too. In other people’s eyes. We are all—every last one of us—created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:26-28). That means within one another, God is present. God's residence within each one of us means that by our faith and by loving one another as Jesus taught us to do, we live in and through our Father's house right now.
Advent is the perfect time to return home. To turn away from loud voices, anger, and any message that denies the truth that every single human being has dignity and is imbued with divinity. We can live in and even fortify our Father’s house through love and respect for one another. We can find our room in that eternal warmth.
By looking into the eyes of one another, we can glimpse the divine. We can come home. As C.S. Lewis beautifully said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.”