Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

A Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Texts: Acts 7:55-60; St. John 14:1-14


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord. Amen.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

It’s the night before Christ’s death.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Judas has already left.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Peter just learned he’ll deny his savior.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

On the night before the world ends, when everything feels like it’s about to come undone.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

We’re reading it on the other side of Easter, but this is not a sermon preached during calm times when the advice is easily swallowed or after the glory of the Resurrection. It’s a farewell discourse, delivered on the precipice of disaster. Put into chronological liturgical context, this is Maundy Thursday, and the altar is being stripped. And yet Jesus tells his disciples – except for the one who’s already left to collect his thirty pieces of silver – to believe.

No matter what Pilate and Herod do. Come what may, be it sword or spear or nail. Even when the sun goes dark at midday and the earth shakes and our Lord breathes his last. Even when Christ is laid in the tomb.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me.”

Because it’s not the end.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

When the mob comes for Saint Stephen and the stones start flying.

Because bloodshed is not the end.

Do not let your hearts be trouble.

When the entire world is stripped bare, revealing our own inability to save ourselves, when a pandemic completely upends everything we thought we knew, when the walls of self-isolation are closing in, when the economy screeches to a halt, when it’s been two months already and we don’t know how many more we have to go.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe.

Because it’s not the end.

Sin and death will not win the day.

And in these Great Fifty Days, as we look back at these final words to the disciples in that upper room, we understand them anew: not mere aphorism but divine truth, a sure promise that these present troubles shall pass away as the glory of the Lord overcomes the world.

Our Lord has gone before to prepare a place for us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he will lead us out of the tomb into everlasting life.

Amen.

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