The Reverend Dr. Jonathan Chapman is pastor of Westfield Church in Killingly, CT and is, like you, ready for this ridiculousness to be over with.
Scripture: John 14:1-14 (NRSV)
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Reflection: Peace Beyond the Platitudes
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled. It’s a sentiment we often hear expressed during times of trial or sadness. In fact, it tends to show up so regularly, that I, for one, group it with the other funeral platitudes: She’s in a better place now; he’s not hurting anymore; She’s with Jesus. Yes, we know all of these things. We know she’s not hurting anymore, that our hearts shouldn’t be troubled. But the fact is: they are.
And the truth is: our hearts are troubled today in a way we haven’t experienced before. The uncertainty, the unknowing, the unending nature of it all is just about more than we can handle. And Jesus’ encouragement to not let our hearts be troubled just doesn’t calm our anxiety quite the way a Xanax does.
But contrary to popular understanding, I think the comfort in Jesus’ words we just heard isn’t found in that phrase. I think we can find it here: "Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” It’s the crux of Jesus’ teaching in this first bit of John 14. Essentially he’s saying: this is they way you’ve heard it before, but I’m giving it to you a new way, a better way. Jesus does that, doesn’t he?
Notice what he doesn’t say. Jesus doesn’t say that peace is instantaneous, that belief in him assures an immediate calmness and acceptance with whatever you’re facing. But what he does say is that he has given us peace, and that it’s different from anything anyone else can offer us.
The past weeks and months have been hard ones filled with all sorts of emotions, and the reality is those will be there for a while. But the good news is God’s peace is there and remains there in the midst of it all. So I won’t stand here and tell you we’re in this together, that things will get better. But I will proclaim God’s peace in the midst of this. And I will remind you, in time, to not let your hearts be troubled. God is with you.
Holy God, May you peace surpass my understanding and may I be a vessel of it. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving after a mass shooting in Wisconsin left 5 dead on April 27
- For those workers who have been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic
- For parents struggling to balance work and their children's educational needs
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the opening of buds and leaves that bring the green of spring.
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
Congregational Church of Putnam, Putnam, CT
Beneficent Congregational UCC, Providence, RI
Central Congregational Church, Providence, RI
Sheldon Street UCC/ABC, Providence, RI
Prospect Congregational Church, Prospect, CT
First Congregational Church of Princeton, UCC, Princeton, MA
First Congregational Church of Portland, Portland, CT
Abington Congregational Church, UCC, Pomfret Center, CT
First Congregational Church in Plympton, UCC, Plympton, MA
First Congregational Church of Plymouth, Plymouth, CT
The Church of the Pilgrimage, UCC, Plymouth, MA
This Week in History:
May 4, 1970 (50 years ago) National Guardsmen fire weapons at a group of anti-war demonstrators on the campus of Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine others. The shootings led to protests across the country, In 1974, a criminal investigations dropped all charges against 8 Ohio National Guardsman for their role in the deaths.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”