Sermon for: May 10, 2020
Don’t be troubled.
God, I just. God, it’s too late. God, I am troubled. God, am I troubled. Jesus says not to be troubled, don’t let our hearts be troubled, as though it’s under my control. Not today it isn’t. My heart is a 2 year old who missed her nap and lost her blankie. Telling me not to be troubled …. Well. I am troubled, agitated, stirred up. I am troubled in all those ways. And I’m tired of digging deep and looking for reasons to be grateful. I’m tired of gratitude-hunting.
Don’t be troubled.
Not only that, Lord, while I’m at it, I’m tired of grief. I’m troubled by grief. I’m tired of hearing about grief, being told “there is much to grieve,” reading strategies for how to handle my grief and help others handle theirs. I’m tired of being told we’re just at the beginning of what we’ll have to give up. I’ve had enough of grief. Which, I suppose, is the nature of grief – We’re sick of it long before it’s done with us.
Trust in God. Trust also in me.
Lord, I am trying. Lord, am I trying. When the vegetable seeds start to sprout, I’m trying to trust in you. But then, I hear unemployment is already projected at around 15% and I think, how long?
When the rain comes and the cold comes, I’m trying to trust in you, that the sun will come again and warm the earth, and maybe ease my heart. But then, I remember, singing – SINGING! Singing, Lord? Did that have to be something else we have to let go of in this season? We’ve already given up gathering in person, seeing our loved ones in person. We’ve already given up sharing communion – yeah, I know, we share and gather on-line. Not the same. And who knows when – IF we’ll ever get to pass the peace, pass the bread, pass the cup. So I don’t even know what it means to trust in you. I don’t even know what that looks like these days.
Trust in God. Trust also in me.
Jesus, I am trusting you to do, what exactly? Make things better? I’m not seeing how, at least anytime soon, things will get better. I don’t know how I – we – will cope with this for the next month, next season, rest of the year, the start of school, the holidays, the next year???? How long O Lord? I don’t have that much trust. I don’t even feel like I have enough to get me through today.
My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you?
You have room to spare – Do you have room for despair? Room for people who long to be faithful but are too worn out? Do you have room for hopelessness and grief, a gathering place for people who are lost and lonely? Room for anger and frustration? Room for people who are trying to trust you, but you seem so far away? Do you have room for that?
When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.
Uh, no Jesus, I don’t know the way. No one does. Not for sure. We’ve got the best minds in the world – The most knowledgeable, savvy, informed, experienced, downright smart people on the planet and in our country trying to find a way through when there is no sure way. And what does it matter? People don’t want to listen to them, anyway. So yeah, I’m with Thomas:
Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Because every single path before us comes at a cost, comes at a price. Besides, we aren’t going anywhere. Well, at least some of us aren’t. There’s nowhere to go, to escape all this. Path A opens businesses right away in an effort to save the economy, but that won’t work if people don’t leave home. Path B is to keep people home a bit longer, making sure we have enough hospitals and beds and room in the ICU for everyone, but I’m sick of it. I want to go back, back to 2019, the way things were, when I knew what to expect and where to find you and what trust and faith looked like.
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
What way? The harder way now in the hopes it will be less painful down the road? The truth for today? The truth that changes as medical professionals and researchers know more, learn more? The truth we tell ourselves about conspiracies because somehow that seems more comforting and likely than the truth of this uncertainty and chaos? And what life? This life? This living history in the making isn’t as fun, or exciting, or even as interesting as we thought – As it seems in books and movies. It’s dreary and boring and exhausting and never-ending. No fun. No fun at all. So, what way exactly am I to be walking, while I’m pretty much standing still, because none of us are supposed to be walking very far at all.
If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.”
Yeah, that’s my point: I feel like I don’t really know God. Show God to me! I’m not alone here – while many of us have learned how you show up in hard times - No one alive today really knows how the you show up in a pandemic – Right now, you sure aren’t showing up with a vaccine, or a treatment, or much reassurance it will all be okay. I don’t feel like I’ve got much to go on, here, right now, this day.
Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?” Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I have spoken to you I don’t speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me does his works. Trust me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on account of the works themselves.”
O. so maybe I need to look at what I can see, not at what I cannot see? Maybe I need to look for the work of love, the works of love? Maybe you have been with me all this time, and I have been looking for something I can’t see, instead of looking at your works. It’s hard right now to trust. Everything right now is hard: Faith is hard. Words are hard. Hope is hard. Being church is hard. Being human is hard. But when I can’t see you, or I’m having trouble trusting in you, I can look at your works.
I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.
Well, you are right. I might be struggling to see you, but I see what amazing acts of love and kindness people are doing. People are doing mighty, mighty works, Lord.
People like Barb Bartels, trying to care for and take care of a staff and residents of a large nursing home, without enough supplies or love or strength or hours in the day. And she keeps getting up, and getting up, and giving what she can.
People like our nurses and doctors from Maryland heading to New York, answering the prayers of nurses and doctors and patients there.
People who are going to work day after day after day after day, caring for the sick, even while others in the country insist it is their right to gather, putting themselves at risk of needing those very same worn out and exhausted doctors and nurses and hospital beds.
People who are feeding the hungry, like Dot and Holly heading to Elizabeth House Sunday afternoon.
People like Jason Papanikolas, working long, long hours to help process unemployment filings.
People who are sharing their talents and voices like Ray and Alicia and Tiffany and Natalie, trusting as they sing separately it will come together, like in the hymn they offer, “How Can I Keep from Singing.” And all the ways you remind me, remind us, that You, Love, is Lord of heaven and earth, and nothing will keep us from singing.
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.
God, I ask – we ask – in your name - for compassion. For eyes to see what we can, and when we forget how to see love, hearts to know the love behind the works.
Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.
Okay. Okay. I will try. Today, I will try again. Today I will offer what I can, trusting your love behind it. Today I will try to let your love live aside my troubled spirit. Today, I will try to let my trust in you live aside your love for me. Today, I will walk the path of trust, the way of hope, in this journey of love.