7 May 2023 (Youth Sunday)
John 14.1-14
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

Jesus said, I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me. Amen.

There’s a humorous reference to Episcopalians you might have heard: How do you know someone is an Episcopalian? If anyone ever says to them “May the Force be with you” they answer back, “And also with you!”

May 4th has just passed by and in the years since the Star Wars movie and TV series franchise began has informally become known as “Star Wars Day.” Devoted fans dress up like their favorite Star Wars character, post movie references and images to social media, and may impersonate Darth Vader saying things like, “Luke, I am yuhr Fatha…” Never in his wildest dreams could the creator of the franchise, George Lucas, ever have guessed how wildly popular his stories featuring Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader would become.

The huge success enabled Lucas and others to spawn additional characters and plot lines that have been turned into blockbuster movies and multiple TV series with the latest being “The Mandalorian.”

On the cover of your bulletin, you will see the two main characters from the series, Mando and Grogu. It looks like an ancient byzantine mosaic and the particular reason I chose it is that part of what makes these stories and plots so compelling is they are based on ancient myths that seem to follow a pattern.

These ancient myths that Lucas borrowed from to undergird his fictional story lines and characters, are very much based on universal truths. Various religions, including Christianity have found plot lines that seem to mimic the sacred writings, in our case, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Good and evil, light and darkness are in full contrast and there are characters who personify both, and point toward the different paths one could choose. In a good myth we can find ourselves and it can instruct us in how to live our lives.

Mandalorians are the “good guys” and originate from the planet Mandalore. They are pitted against an evil empire, and Mando has been given a good and noble mission, to rescue a baby named Grogu, who has obvious traits of a budding Jedi knight, and must be taken back to the jedi for proper training. Along the way, they find themselves in periodic confusion and dangerous conflict, and as the story goes, one of them will declare a truth that reunifies them, and when that happens, the individual will say, “This is the Way.” The whole group will then respond: “This is the way.”    Like a creed, it reminds them of who they are as a group and what they believe, and how they are to act and behave in the world.

Part of ‘the way’ for them included a dress code, and honorable conduct that made them stand out from those working for the evil empire. For the dress code, they wore a special armor (complete with a jet pack), and they were never supposed to reveal their faces by removing their helmets. They sought to remain free from the dark side and from Imperial domination. All of these actions and behaviors made them stand out from the rest of society.

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus make a bold statement that would bind all of his early followers and his followers throughout time when he said: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to Father except through me.”[1] In fact, because of Jesus’ words and manner of life the early followers of Christ weren’t called Christians, they were first called “people of The Way!”  Noted author Frederick Buechner put it like this, He [Jesus] didn’t say that any particular ethic, doctrine, or religion was the way, the truth, and the life. He said that he was. He didn’t say that it was by believing or doing anything in particular that you could “come to the Father.” He said that it was only by him—by living, participating in, being caught up by the way of life that he embodied, that was his way.”[2] To be a follower of Jesus is to embrace Christ and his teaching, and seek to speak and act as he would.

St. Paul before he was a saint encountered the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, Syria and it totally turned his life around. He had found the Way, and he wouldn’t shut up about it! This got him in trouble with the Roman empire and he was put in prison. We read from the Bible in the book of Acts where Paul is put on trial in front of a judge and said:

“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything [written] according to the Law, or written in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14)

St. Paul identified himself as someone who was following “the Way.”

Besides the New Testament that we still being written in the first century

there was a special instruction manual written by an unknown group of early followers of Christ called “The Didache” which begins by informing the reader that there are two ways of living, one that leads to life, and to other leading to death.  Each of the paths had specific ways of believing and behaving and begins with:

“The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. And the second commandment of the Teaching was a basic summary of the 10 commandments.  The way of death is then described: “First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie….be delivered children from these things. See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching.” Human nature hasn’t changed much over the centuries.


Young people (and older people) I don’t have to remind any of us that we live in challenging times, but we also are called in the midst of a world filled with hate darkness, and death to live a life of faith, and hope, rooted and grounded in Love. Our call is not just to love those we like or who like us back, but those who don’t and those who we don’t. This is the Way – the Way of Love – the Way of Truth, the path that leads to an abundant Life now, and eternal Life in the future. This is the truth of the Word of God that instructs us to love God and to love our neighbors as we learn to love ourselves.

The following prayer is written for “Young People” and is found in the BCP, p.829 Let us pray:

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and keep alive their joy in your creation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


[1] John 14.6

[2] Buechner, Frederick, Wishful Thinking (HarperCollins: San Francisco)