‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ Jesus says things like that. Says things knowing that we do have troubled hearts.
Says things like ‘Consider the Lilies of the field.’ That we should stop worrying, as if we can stop it just like we turn off a light switch.
But beyond our immediate sense of inadequacy perhaps these words are more of an invitation than a command for Jesus knew what it was to be human.
He spent time with people like you and me. People who were worried, who were troubled by big things and small things. None of us want to be troubled or worried but we are.
At the moment we are troubled by this virus that has limited and changed our lives. Troubled too perhaps by what life will look like in the future.
Thomas words from the Gospel this morning find echoes in our current situation ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going.’
Part of what makes this time troubling is that we do not know where we are going. We are learning to live with uncertainty.
And so, we need to hear the words.
Words that comfort us. Words that give us hope.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ says Jesus ‘believe in God, believe also in me.’
But at times like this Philip’s words in that Gospel may be ours too. He demands a sign of Jesus ‘Show us the Father’ he says ‘And we shall be satisfied’ as if Jesus were a conjurer.
Perhaps we too long for a sign, if not now then at another time in our life when we longed to know for sure that God was real.
As if that would settle our troubles.
And maybe it would – except what would like look like then?
We would have the answer to everything. There would be no space for questions, no space for growth, no space for surprises – sounds rather dull to me.
This coronavirus lockdown has given us space for all three.
Space for questions.
and for surprises.
We have asked questions about how it all began, about how we are so bound to each other whether we live in Wuhan or Washington.
We have asked questions of our response and of ourselves as we have had to live differently.
We have hopefully grown through our answers and been surprised as we have discovered each other and the world around us afresh.
We may have even Jesus afresh, as we have worshipped in our homes.
Hopefully being surprised by the mischievous ways of the spirit, in the bird hovering over our Easter worship for example.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ says Jesus. Our hearts troubled sometimes but the gift of faith time and again invites us from the place of troubles, from the place of worry to new life and new hope often when we least expect it.
But then this Jesus who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ never did what people expected.
That word ‘way’ helps remind me that our faith is dynamic rather than static. It’s a faith that is changing, evolving and open to new possibilities, as new ways are opened up to us.
There are of course troubles and challenges before us. In the church for example diocesan budgets are being revised but this I think is a good thing, forcing us to think differently and opening us up to new possibilities.
How we gather this morning is just one example. After all you are still worshipping still – just differently. As someone said recently though one church has closed hundreds have opened in living rooms across the country.
Of course, we long to be back together gathered around the table in St. Mary’s and we will meet again but when we return somethings will have changed forever.
For just as this lockdown has given us a bit more chance to clean the cupboards, sort the filing out, spend time in the garden and with those whom we love. It has also given us the chance to get beneath the surface a bit in our life of faith.
Each week I try to speak to a few people and those who like to go for a walk have spoken of discovering paths and roads that they’ve never walked on before.
And perhaps that is a good image of how Jesus walks with us now, accompanying us on the strange paths of lockdown opening up new possibility to deepen our faith.
Over the coming weeks I want to try to find ways to deepen our faith together, beyond this precious time we have on Sunday. I’m not sure what form that might take but I know it is important and hope and pray you might be willing to come with me as we explore new ways to learn and be together.
So that when we do meet again in our holy place at St. Mary’s we shall be glad both to be back together and for the journey we have undertaken in these days of separation.
And in the meantime, well maybe take that bit more time to savour the morning brew.
To see the colours emerging outside in all their depth and beauty.
To read your Bible a bit, starting with a Gospel and meet Jesus afresh or read the Acts of the Apostles as a novel – telling the story of the experience of the first followers of Jesus
Or maybe take a bit of time to sit quietly, to contemplate and pray knowing that Jesus walks with you.
And then maybe, just maybe we might just hear Jesus invitation to us to not let our hearts be troubled quite so much, and trust in him who is for us ‘the way, the truth and the life.’