Ladders are curious things
They look funny. They are awkward.
We all have funny and sad stories involving incidents and accidents with ladders.
Our electricians had to get a special ladder to reach the lights here in the nave. I have to laugh whenever I see them carry it into the building, it takes at least three of them, it’s so long. The ladder comes in through the door, keeps on coming in through the door and coming in, and coming in… Then I have to hold my breath and leave the room when they climb way up to change the bulbs like trapeze artists.

I have lots of running stories. One cold icy morning I went for a run and when I got home I was locked out of the house. So I took out the ladder from the shed to try some windows to see if they were unlocked. Then I got stuck up on the roof.
I was sitting up there in the cold and I realized that the view was lovely up above the icy mist watching branches snap and fall. That surprise of unexpected beauty. Suddenly being locked out and stuck on the roof was a gift.

Ladders, they connect us to hard to reach places.
What connects us?
Jesus speaks to Nathaniel and makes a connection involving a mysterious fig tree. For all of history ever since then, we are left wondering just what was happening under that fig tree? Maybe he was on a ladder…picking someone else’s figs! We don’t know.
Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see heaven opened and angels ascending and descending upon the Son Man, like in the Vision of Jacob’s ladder.
A connection between heaven and earth and Jesus is where the two meet, where they connect, where they hold together.
What connects us? What holds us together?

We hear two “Call Stories” today, the theme continues into next week as well. Samuel hears the voice in the night. Jesus tells Philip to, “Follow me.” And Philip tells Nathanael to “Come and see.”
God’s call always involves listening and responding, it is always a closer walk with God and the walk always involves being connected to other people, to being deeply involved in this life in this world.
The connection with God connects us to others.
We are often tempted to treat Faith as a retreat into a private communion with the divine, but that deep communion always, always connects us more deeply to living with others, especially those we would rather do without.

What connects us? What holds us together?
In John’s Gospel that connection, whether we see it or not, is Jesus, where heaven and earth connect, the ladder of angels wrapping around all of life. Jesus is that life and that light in the Gospel according to John. He is the vision of God, the surprise of beauty, that inspires and calls out to us to follow.

Jesus. So often Jesus becomes the source of division and separation. That same thing happens in John’s Gospel as well, the source of life and light is also the great line of division between the children of God and the children of darkness.
It is an old problem. We drop the ladder and we can no longer reach each other.
The early Christians wrestled with that irony and frustration as well, that the source of life is the source of division. The bite of that struggle is an essential part of the biblical witness. How can we believe and follow and invite in such a way that Jesus is what connects and holds us together? It is a hard to reach place.

The ties that bind us together, that endure, what are they like? Somehow they reveal God in ways that we don’t usually expect. They show us the presence of God without God’s name being spoken. Even sticky, twiggy fig trees become sacred and convert our souls.

Those hard to reach places. They call out to us. Come and see what Connects us. Come and see what holds us together.
Bring a ladder.