All Saints’, Dorval
Rex A. J. Buckland
Revelation 21:1-7; John 14:1-6a
April 18, 2021
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Rex Buckland was in many ways very private person, but he told the world what he believed in through his actions. I knew him for only a few months before he had the health crisis that led to his final decline, but many of the people at St. Andrew’s & St. Mark’s Church, later part of All Saints’ by the Lake, had known him for years and decades. And all of them, when I talked to them, invariably described how helpful Rex was.
This sounds a bit trite, to be honest, but I think it is actually quite significant. People who want to help want to make the world a better place, and want to make life a little bit easier for their fellow pilgrims on the journey.
In the conversation between Thomas and Jesus in our reading from John’s gospel, Thomas is confused because Jesus has told the disciples he is leaving, and they think that this means they will physically have to find their way to where he is going, and they don’t know where it is. But Jesus is not talking about a journey made by foot, horse, or boat. He replies to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” – so the way to follow Jesus to where he is going is not to get out a map or write down a series of turns, but to look at Jesus and learn from him.
Each of us has our own unique way of modeling ourselves on our Saviour and Lord. Rex chose, over and over again, to help others, even at considerable sacrifice to himself. He continued to help Trevor Smith move items for the annual church garage sale even when he had to bring them up from the basement on hands and knees. He volunteered to drive children to the hospital for medical appointments, and he continued delivering Meals on Wheels when he would probably have qualified to be a recipient instead. This drive to help others, grounded in a heart that understood and sympathized with the pain of others, was Rex’s way of following Jesus, who was The Way.
And when you follow Jesus on the way, where do you end up? We can answer Thomas’ question now; the reading from Revelation tells us that. God will make a new heaven and a new earth, where God will dwell among God’s peoples, and death and mourning and pain will be no more.
We often imagine heaven as a place where people sit around on clouds playing harps, which frankly sounds quite boring to me. If Jesus is the Way, he is also the Truth and the Life, and in heaven, we will finally see God face to face and be able to get answers to all the questions we had here on earth; and we will partake of pure life, without the threat or fear or sorrow of death. That is the life that Rex now enjoys.
Knowing how much he liked cars, I can’t help thinking that one of the joys of heaven for Rex will be the ability to go as fast as he could possibly want without worrying about crashing! I suspect there will also be some good food to eat, golf and curling to be played, hockey to be watched, and dogs to be petted. He has been delivered from the weakness and illness that plagued him toward the end of his life, and as a member of the heavenly choir he will never have to worry about going flat.
As we mourn and remember Rex today and as we celebrate the larger life into which he has now entered, let us in his honour resolve to do something helpful for someone else when we get the chance. But even more so, let us resolve to find our own unique way of following Jesus in this life and into the next. Rex’s way was being helpful, and perhaps so is yours; but perhaps your way instead is faith, courage, hope, joy, kindness, patience, wisdom, love, or peace.
Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, contains all these good things, and invites us to journey onward to that place where all tears are wiped away.