“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”   Even since the beginning God and Christ have been one.  Forever in relationship with one another, and forever in relationship with us.  All things came into being through them and that included us. That relationship was damaged when we broke trust with God, as illustrated in the story of the fall.  Since then God has been trying to regain that relationship with us once more, that trust, that intimacy.  Yet we turn away again and again, and God tries to reconcile with us again and again. At first God spoke directly with people, then indirectly with Abraham, with Moses. God spoke through visions and through visionaries. Still the people erred and strayed like lost sheep. In the time of Erza and Hilkah, the book of Torah, the first 5 books of the bible were rediscovered in the temple of Jerusalem and the people heard God speak to them through scripture and law.. Unfortunately, it didn’t last either Next God tried to reconnect through the word of prophets, more and more and more prophets. All these many ways God has tried to reconnect with humanity, to restore the righteous relationship we enjoyed the prior to the break in our sacred relationship. Then there was the priestly cast and the temple, sacrifices and ritual.   Finally, God’s own self became incarnate…took on mortal flesh and human fragility. For the sole purpose of reconciling our relationship. What an incredible concept! Now we have the advantage of 2000 plus years of theology and experience, we as Christians in 2023, are familiar with Jesus’ story, how it starts and how it ends and how it continues. However, in Jesus’ time it was happening for the first time and it was literally unbelievable.  People were used to interacting with God via an intermediary. Through sacrifice in the temple.  Through following the kosher laws. Through the words of the prophets.                       Now Jesus was there, God in person.   “10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.   The gospel of John, from which we have our reading today, tells a unique perspective of Christ, it is the only gospel where Jesus is clearly cognisant of his divinity and seems to spend the majority of the gospel telling an inattentive and often hostile audience that he IS God. Today we have the famous quote, “ I am the way, and the truth and the life.” One of the 7 famous “I AM” sayings of Jesus in the gospel of John.   We have been hearing them a lot of late as we read through the Easter season gospel readings.  Last week we heard “I am the gate” for the sheep and “I am the shepherd” , today I AM the way. I AM.  It’s a strange answer when someone asks for your name. When Moses asks God says, I AM.  It is a strong theological statement.    When the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt,  and had been for hundreds of years they had lost faith and hope.  When Moses went to them with a message of hope, they simply didn’t believe there could be a God who still remembered them, still cared for them.  Moses was stuck.  If they ask me, Moses says, if they ask for proof, if they ask for your name…what do I say? God answered this… Yaweh, I AM. Yaweh means I AM, I exist, I am present, I am with you.  Not, God has been, or God will be…God is.  Yaweh, I AM. Present, active, abiding with you. In Jesus, this is true in a literal sense, In Jesus I AM was en-fleshed and walking with the people. It was too much, they expected a messiah, not God himself.  Even seeing the messiah in Christ was challenging because Jesus would not conform to expectations.  There were very few who could see past what had been, to the new thing God was doing. So, in John we see Jesus trying to explain.  Trying desperately to help the people of God see that God is Yaweh, that I AM is there.  Not far off and unreachable, not locked away in the holies of holies in the temple…only accessible once a year by a special priest.  But present in everyday life in a way God had never been before.  God, through holy had become common place. It was too much to imagine, so in John Jesus uses analogies, over and again to make the inaccessible accessible.       Jesus says “I am the bread of life.” I AM here to feed and nourish you body and soul. “I am the light of the world.” I AM like a lamp in a dark world, guiding you and helping you see. “I am the gate for the sheep.” I AM here to keep you safe and protect you “I am the good shepherd.” I AM here to provide for you and lead you to all you need “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I AM the road to follow, the path that you follow to know God. “I am the resurrection and the life.” I AM the one who created life and I AM the one who will heal your brokenness “I am the true vine” I AM the one who brings joy and abundance into life.  I AM. God…here.  Existing. Present. Abiding and Dwelling with you. It was revolutionary. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.     Although these words offer deep comfort to so many bereaved we forget they were not written as a reference to heaven, to dying and “going to God”.  Quite the opposite they are a reminder that God is I AM, is here with us already. Jesus knew he was to lose his body soon, he knew he would be crucified and die which was the purpose because Jesus is I AM.  So once again he tells the disciples, do no worry.   In the family of God there is room for all, I AM the good shepherd, I AM the gate.  I abide with you and have arranged all things so that you will abide with me. You still don’t understand? It’s like a house, a house with many rooms, Jesus says..  I am going to turn down the sheets and put out fresh towels.  I will bring you home.  You are not alone.  I AM.  God abides with you and you with God.   “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, “Show us the Father”?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  “   I AM. Millenia of teaching and still it a concept we struggle to embrace.  Still it is a concept which takes all our faith to believe when at times we don’t see.  As Jesus spoke to Thomas, blessed are they who believe yet have not seen. We, are blessed.  We have all the teachings and thousands of years of experience.  Yet blessed are those who have not seen. God is here.  I AM.  Jesus.   The life and the resurrection.  The Holy Spirit, the advocate. I AM.  So we are never alone.  So we are never bereft. So we are never without hope. Do not let your hearts be troubled. God is here.  That great and eternal I AM