Reflection from Pastor Hoffman
“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says in Sunday’s gospel.
If only. There is much that is indeed troubling our hearts these days. If only it were as simple as not letting it be so. But Jesus surely intends his words to be comforting, even reassuring. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” These words begin a passage from the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John – or the chapters where Jesus prepares his disciples for his death, resurrection and ascension. As he anticipates the physical separation to come, Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
Jesus knew that the road ahead would be difficult for the disciples. He knew that they would struggle to make sense of all that was about to happen. He knew that they would feel scared, anxious and alone. He knew that they would struggle to keep the faith.
When I feel scared, when the way forward is full of unsettling predictions, when the world as I know it is being turned upside down, telling me to keep my heart trouble free and my belief strong is…less than helpful. But the promise that follows is more than reassuring: I go to prepare a place for you.
I learned from Karoline Lewis (a Professor of preaching at Luther Seminary and scholar of the gospel of John), the place Jesus prepares for us is not a room in a ritzy heavenly mansion. The place Jesus prepares for us is being in the intimate presence of God…even at the bosom of the Father. Put another way, it’s not a place so much as it is a relationship.
When we feel scared, anxious, and alone…when we feel uncertain about the future…when we struggle to keep the faith…Jesus brings us not just into God’s presence, but into a warm embrace, drawing us in to the love that never ends.
May that promise bring peace to our troubled hearts today and everyday.
~ Pastor H.