No Trouble in My Heart, Psalm 31:1-5;15-16; John 14:1-14
Plymouth First United Methodist Church, May 10, 2020
Pastor Toni Carmer
In scripture we encounter a number of different names, images and metaphors for God, which help us to see and—in at least a partial way—understand the fullness/the greatness of who God is. We may at different times feel especially prone to cling to an image that fills our need in a particular moment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But perhaps it’s not a bad thing to remind ourselves at times that yes, God is like this…and yet, God is so much more.
Last week we talked of Jesus as the Good Shepherd—one who guides and protects his sheep, one who keeps them/keeps us from harm, one who is willing to give up his life for those who follow him. That’s an important image to carry with us at different times in life, and it is
particularly relevant for us here and now in this midst of this pandemic.
In the Psalm this week, we read how God is like a rock that protects; God is a strong fortress that saves us. Another Psalm proclaims God as “my strength, my rock, my shield, my deliverer…” God’s strength sustains us…carries us through…holds onto us, holds us up when
our own legs and our own strength can’t do it.
In John’s gospel that we’ve read today, Jesus is at the table with his disciples—after the same meal when he had washed their feet, and where we read in the others gospels where he shared the bread and the cup. It’s the same meal that Judas left to betray him, the meal where he had given the disciples a new commandment, to love one another, just as he has loved them. At this same meal, at this time, just hours before his arrest, Jesus wants them to know—to understand—as well as they possibly can—what’s ahead. He wants them to trust in him, to believe in him, to know that even though he will be gone from their midst, he will continue to be the good shepherd, the rock, the one in whom they will find shelter, comfort, safety. Do not let your hearts be troubled, Jesus says. Believe in God, believe also in me.
Jesus then talks about his Father’s house, a place that we’ve imagined in all kinds of ways. This scripture is sometimes read at the funeral of a loved one, and “my Father’s house” is the way we like to think of heaven: a place with lots of rooms, with space for all of us, somehow!
And Jesus is telling the disciples/telling us, that he’s going there to prepare a place for us! He’ll be calling together the construction team and building a beautiful place that overlooks whatever place you think of that seems like the perfect location to dwell for all eternity. Let’s say—a beautiful ocean with an amazing beach just outside the front door, and mountains in all their glory and majesty out the back door. You can’t get a bad view anywhere, no matter where your room might be!
I counted it up the other day: since our marriage, Scott and I have lived in 15 homes in 15 different places. Five of those were apartments before or during seminary; Scott’s internship contributed to that—a couple of back and forths back then. But out of the remaining homes, 8 were parsonages, 2 were our own homes where we lived because the church gave a housing allowance instead of having a parsonage, and one of those was the home we built and expected to retire into someday, but then ended up selling 3 years ago after moving to Plymouth, deciding an empty home wasn’t good for anybody. I expect that we’ll have at least one more home in the future, and who knows—maybe another apartment when we’re done dealing with a yard, cleaning out gutters and that sort of thing.
I laid those out for you—not because there’s a contest and I’m wondering who maybe has lived in more homes than we have—but to say that these were each my homes—and that fact had nothing to do with the structure or physical location—but had everything to do with the people I lived with and loved—my husband and family—and the people who were a part of the community where we resided. The people I worked alongside in the church. The people whose open arms welcomed us, who invited us into their hearts and who settled into ours. Our friends who became family.
Jesus isn’t talking about a physical kind of place, either—but is still very much “home.” A place where we settle in, where we’re loved and accepted, where we’re received. He’s not talking about a place, he’s talking about a relationship… In him, they will find their spiritual
Thomas doesn’t understand; Philip, too, has a hard time connecting the dots. But Jesus continues to patiently teach them, that he and God are one, and that God works through Jesus—and then he says the most amazing thing: something we need to hear today. Jesus said,
“whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. (And) they will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
Can you imagine hearing that? Even today we hear it and think—wait—what? But consider all that the disciples continued to do after they were resurrected from their grief and despair at the loss of Jesus and adjusted to the new reality of his resurrection. When they
received the gift of the Holy Spirit. When they moved out into the world, preaching and teaching and sharing the gospel, crossing the barrier into the gentile world which led to our reception into the family of God, into God’s house—into a faith that comes to us at God’s
initiative… It’s not who we are or what we do but who God is and what God has done through Jesus. We’re welcomed, we’re received, we’re given a home, not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1).
These are the things I’d like you to take-away from this morning’s scripture:
- Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God. Believe in Jesus. Trust in God. God will not let us down. Not now. Not ever.
- Though you may feel unsettled in what’s ahead, remember your relationship with Jesus. Let your heart and mind settle in him. We are at home with him, no matter where we are, and no matter what is happening around us.
- Though we may feel a little puzzled; not sure what to do—God will give us what we need to take the next steps. So, pray for guidance, pray for wisdom, pray for courage. We have been blessed with a loving, giving God who has been generous with us. Pray that God will open our eyes that we may see and do what God is calling us to do. We can do great things in his name, serving his people, the lost and the lonely, those who need to hear a word of encouragement.
Be encouraged. In Jesus’ name. Amen.