Rev. Katie Holicky, Assistant Rector
Easter 5, Year A: John 14:1-14
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.
This week we find ourselves in the midst of John’s farewell discourse. This moment after Jesus has washed the feet of and eaten with his friends. He knows what is to come and offers them reassurance and guidance. “Do not let your hearts be troubled… I am the way, the truth, and the life”. In other words… “Don’t worry, trust me”.
A few weeks ago we found ourselves on FaceTime with our almost four year old niece Eliza and our one and half year old niece Emerson. Eliza was telling us all about how now that she is not going to school she spends her days playing with her toys, watching movies (I can’t even imagine how many times they have watched Frozen by now), and when her mommy can take a break from her work, they go for walks over to the beach on the Lake where they live. My brother, her dad, joked with her about crabs at the beach. He and Eliza held their hands up to the camera making crab pinching motions.
Then, while still filled with the joy of laughter, Eliza looked right at the camera and said to us, “Don’t worry, there aren’t crabs at this beach… that’s the ocean beach where a crab might pinch you”. I was struck by this. Of course in part because it was so stinkin’ cute. And then, because this tiny little voice who I love and miss so dearly eased my worry…tended to my troubled heart. That in the midst of this strange time of not being at school and playing on the beach of the lake… she would be ok… she would not be pinched by crabs… and neither would we.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled”. I am not sure there is a phrase that could be more fitting these days. Fitting, yes… when I hear these words offered to me by Jesus I feel soothed… yet I also feel anxiety. You see… I know I deeply NEED these words… and yet… they are hard to receive. “Do not let your hearts be troubled”… there are moments while staying at home that this feels so much easier said than done. I truly understand why Thomas would feel the need to say, “How do we know the way?”.
We find ourselves in the midst of uncertainty wondering how we will move forward. How will we seek justice for the millions of people feeling the economic strain of this crisis? How will we find ourselves safely gathering in person again? And in the meantime… how long or Lord… how long will we be held up in these our current dwelling places?
And as I spin inwardly trying to find the answers to these questions and the many worrying questions that bubble up with each Zoom call, news story, friend or family member finding themselves consumed by worry…. And then… there it is “Do not let your hearts be troubled”.
How can Jesus possibly say this to us? How can Jesus trust us to really hear these words and let them ground us so that we may move beyond our consuming worry? How do we know for sure we are safe from those pinching crabs?
We spend so much of the journey worrying about the right path… are we on the lake beach or the ocean beach with pinching crabs? As we read on in our Gospel story… we see a bit of the why behind Jesus’ statement to us.
Believe it or not… we already hold the answers to all of the questions that echo in our troubled hearts. Because of our faith, because of our belief in the paradox that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus, because we believe in the just works of Jesus…. We hold the tools in our tool box to keep putting one foot in front of the other. One theologian summed this up rather well, “By believing against all odds and loving against all odds, that is how we are to let Jesus show (up) in the world and to transform the world.”
This is not to say our hearts will not be troubled… or that in moments it feels our prayers go unanswered… I think it is more to say follow Jesus… do the things he taught us to do… let us not let our troubled hearts consume us into inaction in life and relationship. I think ultimately this statement is a nudge to let our troubled hearts be a reminder to turn back to God… to remember whose we are and that deep within us… together we know the way.
We have what we need for the journey within us and our shared wisdom as the body of Christ. By trusting that we are a part of these greater works of God in this world, by honoring our role in the return of Jesus we are able to walk more closely to the call to love and serve the most vulnerable among us.
Friends, we do know how to move forward in just and loving ways. We know the path… we know the way, the truth, and the life. We welcome in the reassurance of Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”, and we work individually and in community to reorient ourselves to these truths and trust in the truth that we will do those greater works with God…and we won’t be pinched by the crabs.