Stephentown Federated Church




Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for May 29, 2011 - "RAHAMIN: THE WOMB OF GOD"
(John 14:15-21)

Years ago, when I would leave my then teen-aged sons to care for themselves for an evening, I would leave sticky-notes everywhere.

"Dinner is in the fridge; don't forget to feed the dog; remember not to set the house/yourbrother/yourself on fire..." You get the picture.

Nowadays, as I am getting older, the sticky-notes are for me: "Call the vet; meeting on Tuesday; remember to breathe in/out....." Yeah.

This week's Gospel is part of the discourse that John has Jesus delivering at the Last Supper. We have actually heard parts of that discourse for the last few weeks; it is a LONG good-bye speech, sort of Jesus' "sticky-notes" to the disciples. He will be leaving them, and wants them to remember the important stuff. None of the other Gospels have all this talk recorded; only John, who is writing for a community which is suffering from prejudice and rejection. Therefore, these words drive home again and again the comfort that Jesus wants his followers to have; the comfort of knowing that his spirit is with them and will "abide with them." The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus, and he loves them; wants them to know that it was not in vain and they will be OK.

"I will not leave you orphans... keep my commandments..... I am in my Father, and you are in me and I in you."

I wonder what my "farewell discourse" will be to my own children. "Remember what I taught you. Remember who you are. Remember that you will always be a part of me, and I of you. Love one another; take care of one another." Sounds pretty similar; why fool with a good thing? However, in Jesus' case he is talking on a huge scale, for he is talking about ALL the children of God.

How do we interpret the "I am in the Father......" part of that discourse? I would like to offer a metaphor from the Hebrew language that i find beautiful. We pretty much have stilted language for God. We say... well, pretty much just ... God. Period. The Hebrews, in their tradition, did not say the name of Yaweh, because it was too sacred. Therefore, they had many, poetic and metaphorical names for the divine. One of the names for YHWH that the Hebrews used was "Rahamin" which means compassion. It is from the root word "rahem," which means womb.

Ah.... the womb of God. That's where we live. A place of safety, gentleness, compassion. A place where we have all we need to breathe and be nourished. When a child is in the womb, the very lifeblood of the mother flows through that child and then back to her. She is in the child and the child is in her. This is the most powerful methaphor for intimate life with God that I can imagine. It is why we are never left orphaned.

When we realize that we and all of God's creatures live in that womb, it certainly unites us with all the others. "Womb-mates," if you will. We all share that intimate, loving space, and are expected to live accordingly. Maybe peace is possible after all; we all exist within the same womb of compassion and God is in our very cells.