A Place Prepared for You, A Place to Call Home

Meditation on John 14:1-14

First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown

Pastor Karen Crawford

May 7, 2023

Link to the full service with the baptism and message:


After so many days of cool, rainy weather, we enjoyed beautiful spring weather yesterday! Did anybody get to spend some time outside?

When I came home yesterday from the memorial service, the first thing I wanted to do was take a walk. I changed my clothes, put on my sneakers, and held up the leash and halter for our toy poodle pup, Minnie.

“Do you want to go for walkies?” I asked. Does any one else have to talk baby talk with their small dogs?

She started hopping around on her hind legs and holding up her front paws, wanting to be picked up. I put on her tiny halter and leash.

I find myself watching Minnie as much as watching the scenery when we are walking. Her face is so expressive. She is startled by sights and sounds. Delivery trucks. The mailman. Lawnmowers and leaf blowers. Children laughing and riding bikes. A man digging a hole in his front yard.  

Yesterday, we walked by a house on the corner of Great Oak and Red Oak, and a flock of chickens were making noise. Buck buck buck!

She stopped and dropped her curly tail and tried to make herself as small as possible.

“Come on, Minnie!” I said, giving her leash a little tug. “It’s OK. They’re just chickens.”

She slowly responded, moving forward, and glancing back to make sure that none of the chickens were following us. Soon the chickens were forgotten, and she was trotting alongside me more confidently—even venturing out in front.

I love it when she runs ahead of me, then stops to look back and see if I am still there on the end of the leash!

As she grows accustomed to walks in the big, wide world, I think of what it’s been like for us learning to walk with Jesus over the years. Some days, the road is familiar, and the walk is smooth and easy. We move along confidently, knowing and doing our calling, sensing the Lord with us. Maybe we have some hills and bumps and curves, but we manage to adjust to the terrain. Other times, we are startled by new sights and sounds, things that make us stop and want to turn around and go back. We are afraid to take a wrong step! But then we look for Jesus, find the Lord still with us, reassuring us that we DO know the right path, the right road to take. The Way.

And what is The Way? Knowing Christ and seeking to follow in his loving, merciful, and gracious example.

The disciples in John 14 want to see the Father, as one says to Jesus, to be “satisfied.”  They want to know more about this final destination—the Father’s house, with many dwelling places. But they also want to know what life will be like in this world, when Christ has gone home to be with the Father and left them behind, as he tells them, “Where I am going, you cannot go.”

When they ask to see the Father, the problem is ultimately a problem of faith, Jesus says.  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” he asks. If they have seen Jesus and know him, then they have seen the Father and know God, for the works he has done are the works God has done through him.

And then Christ makes an astonishing claim. His followers will do even greater works—he’s talking about acts of love, kindness, peace, justice, healing, serving, and giving—when he is with the Father and no longer with them in the flesh. Just ask for my help, he says, and you will have it, to the glory of God. In the next passage, he will urge them to keep his commandments, if they love him, and that he will ask the Father to give them an Advocate—the Spirit of truth, who will abide in and with them, always, helping them to do God’s will.

When I think about the promise of Christ’s followers doing even greater works, it occurs to me that the Lord is speaking of the Church of every age—not just the first disciples. God is speaking to us. We have nothing to fear, not with the Spirit abiding in and with us, teaching us what we need to know, helping us walk as the Lord wants us to go.

And we are back to Minnie, again.

Walking our toy poodle pup yesterday, I thought about the image of her leash—and the Spirit tethering us to the Lord in a way that both provides freedom of movement and choice for us, but always within God’s gaze and protection. Just like I am never going to let go of Minnie’s leash when we are walking in the road, we are never out of God’s sight or God’s grasp. As Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

And if something truly dangerous comes along, I am going to reach down and pick her up and hold her until the danger has passed, and it is safe to let her go, again. Wouldn’t our Lord do that for us and more, as well?

The best part of the walk with Minnie? When we reach as far as we are going to go that day, and we turn back.

Minnie nearly breaks into a gallop on her 4-inch legs as we retrace our steps. This tiny dog, not yet a year old, knows the way home! As much as she loves “walkies,” you should see her enthusiasm, how she confidently pulls on the leash when we turn back onto Oakfield Road—and she sees our driveway up ahead.

Today, we welcomed Malia Marie Chow into the Kingdom of God through Baptism. Christ has claimed her as his own and will continue to fill her and equip her with spiritual gifts to strengthen her in her life of faith. We have promised to encourage Malia and share our hope in Christ and God’s love with her. We have vowed to walk beside her family in this journey—to pray for her and for them as they seek to follow Christ in their own lives.

Malia Marie Chow, daughter of Sean and Julie Chow., was baptized on May 7, 2023.

And I leave you with one of the beautiful promises that the Lord makes in John chapter 14.

I want you to think about the place that has been prepared for each of us through Christ’s saving work on the cross.

There’s a place for Malia. A place for her family.

A place for you and your families.

A place for me and my family.

There’s room for every family on the earth,

in the place that Christ has prepared!

A place of peace and healing. Grace and love.  

A place to call home– in this world and the world to come.

Let us pray.

Holy One, we can hardly imagine the beauty of the place that Christ has prepared for each of us. We thank you for this promise. We scarce can take it in—this precious gift of life eternal and how Your Son accomplished our salvation through suffering and dying on a cross. Like the first disciples, we have questions, and we never feel like we have sufficient information. We aren’t always satisfied with not knowing everything. But as the apostle Paul assures us, now we see only in part, but one day, when you come again to take us to yourself, we will see you face to face, and we won’t have questions, anymore. Help us to live by faith, confidently, helping one another walk this way, and trusting in the leading of your Spirit, abiding with us always. In the name of our Risen Savior, we pray. Amen.

Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Minnie, a toy poodle.

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