Every Tuesday in August, ELCA pastors and leaders are sharing contemplative prompts for reflection and meditation. Today, Kelsey Brown, pastor developer of Jehu’s Table and a board member of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, shares her thoughts on John 14:1-4:

“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.”

Living Lutheran: What does this passage mean in context?

Brown: Jesus has just let his disciples in on the rest of “the story.” His time has come to depart from them and not just down another path or in a new direction … but home to the heavenly place. The road to the end won’t be easy, he cautions. Not only will he die, but one who has shared in community with them, who has been fed from the same loaf, will be the one to betray him. His followers, quick to panic, [grow flustered] and jump to his defense. Surely, Simon Peter says, I will go where you go, I will lay down my life for you, unaware that soon the time would come when he would be the one to deny ever knowing him.

Perhaps that’s why our selected passage sounds so odd following after this particular discourse—amid the fear and panic in the room, Jesus continues to instruct his friends and us that we must not cling to the fear of the future. Jesus is already doing a new thing, going ahead of us to prepare a place—which we will inherit when he brings us to his side in the days that have no end.

“Let your hearts be not troubled, for you know the way to the place I am going.”

What does this mean for the modern world? What can we learn from this?

It is hard to not feel powerless to the chaos enveloping our world in the current moment. As things are rapidly shifting around us, changing from one moment to another, hear these words: it is not abnormal to feel fear, anxiety and even despair over our realities. Just as Jesus instructed the disciples, we must not be trapped in it. We must lean on the one who came to save. Trust in God and continue to walk in the way of the Christ. The rest is not on us but the one who created us.  You do not have to save the world. You do not need to have all the answers. You do not need to buy or work your way to your own salvation. Jesus already paid the price and has secured us a future, a promise that is so much more than we can imagine.

Can you share a meditation or journal prompt inspired by this Scripture?

In your journal or the notes app on your phone, make a list of the thing you need to “give back to God to carry.” What do you need release from? What do you need to make room in your heart/brain/body for that will recenter your walk with Christ?

Kelly Wilkerson
Kelly Wilkerson is a content strategist for the ELCA.

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