Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

CALL TO WORSHIP: The Lord is my rock; He is my place of safety. He longs for me to put all my trust in Him. Let me put this time in His hands as I worship Him today.

Lord, of every living thing, You know me better than I know myself, and understand all my needs. You want me to grow in the right way, and I know that I can only do this, if I allow You to feed me with good things.

Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and help me to listen to all That You want to say to me today. Then, I will grow in the way that You want me to be. Amen

HYMN 86: PRAISE TO THE LORD

PRAYER OF ADORATION

Great and loving God,
I praise Your holy name.

Lord, You are my loving heavenly Father. You made me, and You call me to be Your person. You care for me, You want me to be safe and however I may be feeling, I can come to You. You listen to me when I pray, and You guide me into the right paths. You choose to use ordinary people like me to do Your work and Your love never ends.

Great and loving God, I praise Your holy name.

Lord, You speak to me most clearly in Jesus. He came to live amongst us, speaking Your truth, and living in a way that always pleased You. When I look at Him, I can see exactly what You are like. He died on the cross so that through Him, I might be forgiven and have a new start. He sits at Your right hand, and is always praying for me.

Great and loving God, I praise Your holy name.

Because Your Spirit is with me, I am never alone. You never leave me, just as You promised.

Great and loving God, I praise Your holy name. Amen

TALK FOR ALL:  Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled (JOHN 14: 1-14)

I know a little girl who is two years old and when she gets upset she scrunches up her face and says, I mad! We all feel like that at times. It is good to recognize our feelings and think about why we feel as we do. You may realize that you feel happy, sad, angry, or fearful.

It is okay to feel angry if someone hurts you or someone you love. It is okay to feel sad when you have lost something or someone who is dear to you. We understand that when we don’t know what’s going to happen next (what to expect) we may feel fearful.

There are times, however, that we become upset over things that don’t matter. At those times it is helpful to stop and think about something that Jesus said to his disciples,

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me” (14:1).

It seems as if God intends for us to be happy most of the time. Jesus reminds us to think about God’s love – that he cares for us and has a plan for our lives.

God’s love gives us choices and a different way of handling difficult situations. So, when we feel sad, angry, or fearful perhaps we could be comforted by remembering the words Jesus spoke, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me” (14:1).

CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING:
The Bible tells us, that when we are followers of Jesus, we should get rid of all bad beheaviour. But we come to confess that we do not always behave very well. We like to mix with the people that we get on with, and do not look around to see who is alone or unhappy.

The Bible tells us to have done with deceit; but we sometimes tell lies because we are afraid, or we don’t want to look foolish.

The Bible tells us to have done with hypocrisy but the way we behave does not always match the things that we say.

The Bible tells us to have done with jealousy, but we can be mean-spirited if someone else has something that we want.

The Bible tells us to have done with unkind speech but we can enjoy saying nasty things about other people.

Forgive us Lord, when we do not behave in the way that shows that we are disciples of Jesus.

Thank You that because of his death for us, we can know that if we are really sorry, we can be forgiven. Help us to listen more to Your Holy Spirit, so that we may become more like Jesus every day. In His name we pray.

Amen

READING: JOHN 14:1-14

HYMN 286: WHAT KIND OF LOVE IS THIS-StF

SERMON: LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED

When you are in your most severe crisis, the last thing you can hear is often the one thing you need to hear.

“Let not your heart be troubled, Jesus says, “Believe in God, believe in me.”

There you are in the hospital waiting room pacing back and forth in a room full of strangers whose faces suggest they are there carrying the same burden you are. Clutching a Styrofoam cup, flipping pages through a magazine you would otherwise never read – or at least not be seen reading in public – but it’s what’s there on the table and you’ll do anything to keep the fear at bay and the minutes moving rapidly along.

“Let not your heart be troubled, Jesus says, “Believe in God, believe in me.”

The funeral is finally over, the ground all covered, the ashes scattered, the prayers recited and the hymns sung. Now you are left in the living room, platters of food everywhere, flowers in every corner, notes on every table. It’s over. You are sitting now with a dull ache or maybe it’s a searing pain in the heart place where she – he – once lived. The future? Impossible to imagine. The heartache is easier than the daunting task of living into a future without the one who created the past and the present. What’s the future without him? Without her?

“Let not your heart be troubled, Jesus says, “Believe in God, believe in me.”

You hear the devastating news of terror, rush for your children, rush for the phone, raced home all in a blizzard of movement. At home, you hold the remote with one hand and the phone with the other, a doubled-fisted reach for connection. Clicking channels one after another – an addict for more, more community, more news, more assurance, more – and the channels all over the same thing again and again. Crashing in front of you are not just towers and markets but something far more profound is being shaken. A security once assumed secure is unmasked as an illusion. What’s coming next, when and where? In the water, in the air, or on the train? Where are we safe anymore? So we rush out to the hardware store to make sure we have tape, plastic, batteries, food and water. It makes perfectly good sense to be prepared, but even preparation and evacuation plans don’t take away the unsettledness of our inner lives. This may be with us for a lifetime in an age of terror. Nevertheless in the midst of it all:

“Let not your heart be troubled, Jesus says, “Believe in God, believe in me.”

Jesus’ assurance is hard to hear and often we don’t hear it. On the lips of anyone but Jesus it can sound sentimental or too much like a nervous attempt at consolation by someone who can’t bear the silence of anguish. We’ve all experienced the simple and well meaning “don’t worry” as less than comforting when the person offering it has no clue of the actual reason for the worry that is presently eating up your stomach. When you are holding on to a “memo of termination” at age 50, 55 or 60, without a job in sight, it doesn’t help when your securely employed buddy pats you on the back and says, “Don’t worry. It will work out.”  He may be right, of course, but it’s hard to hear it at the moment.

Jesus himself had a troubled heart when his friend Lazarus died. He wept. And when Judas was preparing to betray him, he wept again – only this time with such anguish that drops of blood spilled from his brow. Jesus knows trouble and he knows a troubled heart.  But he also knows your heart and he knows mine.

Preparing his disciples for a future after his death – something incomprehensible to them – he offers precisely the word they and we need to hear – the word we have the most difficulty hearing and yet the one we most need to hear for our freedom. This is not the sentimental consolation of a person uncomfortable with grief – or the Hallmark message one is obliged to give and receive because … well, just because it’s the thing you do in circumstances where you can do nothing else. In other words, this is not a human word – this is God’s word for a troubled heart. God’s word is not a momentary escape from pain, but a gift that allows you to live with eyes open and with courage.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” Jesus says.  “Believe in God, believe in me.”

Will you hear this today as an invitation to trust your life – the whole of it – your present, your past, your future – in God’s care?  This is the message some of us find the most difficult to embrace – truly to embrace as the truth, not merely a religious sentiment – because we want something more secure. Yet, if anything has become clear it is that nothing we can construct is secure. Living with honesty about the ultimate insecurity of human security is the freedom that allows you to trust your life in God’s care.  This is true security and true freedom.

In the wake of September 11, there was an increase in church attendance – we all experienced that blip – but I read in The Christian Century that there was also an increase in gun purchases. That strikes me as an odd combination and very telling. Perhaps we believe that God will preserve us beyond the grave if we show up in worship but worry that God may need some help in the short run. The essay noted, “We find it hard to affirm with the psalmist, “My time is in your hand” – when the times are so dark and frightening. And so we feel tempted, compelled, to take matters into our own hands. I suspect the same thing is occurring now as we face the possibility of war and other threats, COVID-19, destroying families.

I believe it is a good thing to be prepared for disaster – to have food, water and communication plans. I would like our congregation to have such a plan so that if something were to happen we could stay in touch with each other.

But Jesus would have his disciples to do something other than take the future into our hands. He wants us to entrust our lives into God’s hand and then to allow the fruit of our lives to be made visible in deeds that point toward God.

Thomas is the only one honest enough to tell Jesus that he has no clue what Jesus is talking about and where he is going. Thomas is always missing things, but he is always honest about it. He is like the one who in a group of stargazers bends down to swat a mosquito at exactly the wrong time – at the exact moment when the long-awaited meteor flashes across the sky. Thomas is always missing out – so he confesses his cluelessness by saying, “We don’t the where you are going and we certainly don’t know the way.”

Jesus doesn’t offer us a map, a set of directions and a compass.  Jesus offers himself. The way is personal – Jesus is the way.  The truth is personal – Jesus is the truth.  The life is personal – Jesus is the life. You will find life not in propositions but in a person – a particular person – Jesus of Nazareth who came to announce and inaugurate the worldwide reign of God. This Jesus is the friend of sinful, unbelieving, and differently-believing people who were rejected by law-abiding, morally respectable members of the establishment. He came not to condemn the world – not even his enemies – but that the world in general and those at odds with God in particular would be reconciled by His self-giving love. Jesus is the one who heals the broken-hearted without regard to eligibility, who opens his arms to the vulnerable, to lepers, and to all those on the margins. 

This is the astonishing news of the gospel – God has opened the way to life through the living Christ who invites you to cast yourself on him.  We gain life by believing him, by following his way and by trusting him more than all the powers of this world. This is what Clark Pinnock calls “the boundless generosity of God” in Jesus Christ who lived, died and is risen for all. This is one who invites you to be free.

Therefore, sisters and brothers, hear the gospel and be set free: “Let not your heart be troubled,” Jesus says.  “Believe in God, believe in me.”

HYMN 639: THROUGH THE LOVE OF GOD ... WELL-StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION:  Let us imagine that we are going for a walk with Jesus. Think of Him just a little ahead, leading the way. The walk takes you through beautiful countryside, Green and fertile. From time to time, you pause to look around, exchange comments, catch your breath. Now the walk is leading up a little valley. At the bottom, there is a stream rushing along, splashing over stones as it goes.

You pause again to listen to the music of the water, to watch the patterns and colours as the water runs over the bed of the stream. You reach a place where you can go right down to the water. It is a sheltered spot, cool with dappled shade. You sit down with Jesus, cup your hands, drink the water.

Just near where the water comes splashing down, there is a large rock, touched in places by the sunshine. You put out a hand and touch it. It is cool and firm. You lean back against it and close your eyes, supported by its strength, close to Jesus, resting in His company.

Let us pray

Lord, we thank You for your strength which has always been at our backs, even when we haven’t been aware of it. We pray for those who are in desperate need of strength today; for those who are weakened by illness or lack of food; for those who are tempted to do wrong; for those at the mercy of bad habits; for those whose faith is weak.

Be with them, and help them to find their strength in You. Show us how we can be the ones to help them in their difficulties.

We too have all kinds of things to deal with in our lives and sometimes we need to be very strong. In a few moments of quiet, we will think about situations with which we may need to deal with over the coming days and weeks.

Save us from thinking that we are alone. Help us to remember the rock at our back, and to know that You are with us always.

We open our eyes, start to get up, and realise that Jesus is already on His feet. He reaches out his hand and helps us up, so that we can continue our journey. Lord, help us to remember that wherever we go, whatever we do, Jesus is with us. Amen

HYMN 559: WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS-StF

BLESSINGS