"Troubled Hearts"

"Troubled Hearts" is the title of today's sermon. Here's a couple of examples of how kids get in trouble with things concerning church.

A boy asked his father, "Dad, did you go to Sunday School when you were a boy?" "Yes, son, I was always sent to Sunday School." "Well," the son replied, "I think I'm going to quit; it's not doing me any good either."

A father overheard his two young sons talking. The first one said to the other, "Do you believe in Satan?" The second one answered, "No, it's like when they tell you about Santa Claus-it's your father."

A little girl told her grandmother, "I behaved very well in church today. They offered me a big plate of money and I only took a dollar."

A grandfather and his little grandson were praying side by side in church. The little boy was muttering in a barely audible voice, so his grandfather said, "Don't mumble, I can't hear a word you're saying." The little boy replied indignantly, "Well, I'm not talking to you."

"Trouble." It's a strange word. Most kids would, without ever having seen the word, spell it "t-r-u-b-b-l-e." My mind works in strange and wondrous ways, because as I thought of that, two other words then came to mind-rubble and bubble. And isn't it strange how those two words related immediately to my sermon, even though I wasn't really going to take the sermon in that direction. There goes that mischievous Holy Spirit again!

I find Jesus' words, "Don't let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid," very comforting. In today's lesson Jesus also tells us that he's leaving us with his peace. Not the peace as the world gives, but peace that passes all understanding that guards the hearts and minds of those who believe in Jesus. We can know peace through him.

So how do the words "rubble" and "bubble" as they relate to "a troubled heart" fit in? A troubled heart is one that can turn to rubble. We think of something that is in "rubble" as being in ruins-a pile of something that is no longer what it was meant to be. Somehow it came to ruin. Somehow it was destroyed.

"Double. Double. Toil and Trouble. Burn fire and cauldron bubble."

That, as many of you will recognize is a line from Shakespeare-the play, MacBeth, to be exact. It's the opening of an Act where there are three witches circling 'round a bubbling cauldron, each chanting what they are putting in and then as each finishes they all chime in, "Double. Double. Toil and Trouble. Burn fire and cauldron bubble."

Yes, it's double trouble and double toil when you let a troubled heart get the best of you. It can turn your attitude and outlook into rubble. Certainly there are times when our hearts are troubled, but that should spur us to some sort of positive action. So many folks it seems like to wallow in their trouble. You almost expect them to start out speaking by saying, "Woe is me! Have I got trouble."

The Professor in "76 Trombones" tells the people of River City, "Folks, you got trouble right here in River City." Well, a troubled River City is not the town we live in; it's the PLACE within us where we live when we let our troubled hearts get us mired down so that we can't see the hope, the light, the peace. What happens is we become afraid. That's why Jesus adds,"…and do not let them be afraid," to the phrase "Do not let your hearts be troubled."

A troubled heart can reduce a good outlook, a good attitude to rubble.

"Don't LET your hearts be troubled," Jesus says. "Believe in God, believe also in me." How does that help? How does that help a troubled heart?

When we focus on the positive message of Jesus, on the hope, on the light, on any one of the teachings he gave to us to help our troubled hearts, when we focus on the positive message, it takes our focus off our troubled heart to give it peace, AND helps us let go of what's troubling us so that we don't get mired in, stuck in thinking about what troubles our heart. Because, if we hang on to that which is troubling our heart it becomes like the bubbling in a cauldron. It isn't like bubbles that float up in the air and burst, that release that which is in them. No, a heart mired in thinking about trouble is just like bubbles in a cauldron. They keep bubbling and bubbling. They never stop until you put out the fire that makes the contents of the cauldron bubble.

What's the fire? A mind fueling a heart focused on trouble, an un-peaceful heart. It's a heart that seeks peace from a world that will not give it peace. Instead of seeking peace through Christ in prayer, or worship or praise or the presence of the Holy Spirit teeming with peaceful possibilities for our lives, we seek peace through the ways of the world-alcohol, drugs, sex, revenge, physical anger (yes, some people think that releasing their anger on someone will give them peace-and that never works, because their anger is never just for the person on whom they release their physical anger-it's a fire burning within that is never extinguished because the mind is fueling a heart focused on trouble.)

If people really believed that the peace of Christ could quell their fears, could bring calm to a troubled heart, this worship space would be packed! Do YOU believe it? If you know of a good remedy for something, you never hesitate to tell someone how it benefited you and they ought to try it, do you? So, do you believe Jesus can bring peace to a troubled heart? Do you believe this is where it will happen? Do you tell others that?

You come here because the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart to come here. Whether you come here or not doesn't have to do with ME, or whether I preach a good sermon, or whether I put you to sleep, or whether you like me or not, or whether the hymns were too slow or not a good tune. Every one of us is drawn to worship-even ME for whom this is a duty to show up since I'm getting paid to do that-I'm still drawn to worship by the Holy Spirit. Whatever you hear here, however you hear the sermon, whatever it is in the worship today or any day that speaks to you (you must be willing to listen, come with an open heart to praise and thank God, and to be nourished by the teachings of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit), however then it is that you are affected by worship, that is the Holy Spirit speaking to you. If you leave here with a troubled heart, you haven't let the Holy Spirit speak to you. It ain't me or anyone or anything else.

Maybe some of you think that you're here because your spouse MADE you come, or as a youth your parents made you come. WRONG! The Holy Spirit is in charge of bringing you here. The Holy Spirit speaks through whomever or whatever it is that brought you here. Every time you come here, there's a message here for you. Listen to it. If you come here with a troubled heart, be sure to let Christ bring peace to it. Let it be the kind of bubble that floats upward and bursts and is released. Release whatever it is that is troubling you into the waiting hands of Christ. Don't keep holding on to thoughts of trouble.

Don't hang around in the rubble. Move out. Build upon the promises of Christ, that believing in him will bring you peace; that turning things over to him will bring you peace. If there are bubbles bubbling within you, let them be like bubbles of the living water of life Jesus says he will give us. Like the bubbles of a spring whose waters refresh and renew and rejuvenate.

"Don't let your hearts be troubled, and don't let them be afraid." That's not me, saying that; Jesus is saying it; Jesus in whom you believe, in whom you trust, whom you KNOW fulfills promises both now and forever.

Love casts out fear. Love brings peace to a troubled heart. The love that God has for you is waiting to bring peace to every corner of your mind and heart and being. This place is filled with love. No matter what troubled hearts you bring here, and if you choose to leave with that, the place is STILL filled with love. Love is stronger than anything else in the world so even though you may view this place through the eyes of a troubled heart, the place is really filled with LOVE. That's what I said earlier. A troubled heart brings your attitude and outlook to rubble, and so you can't see the love that is teeming in this place, the love of Christ flowing through and from every being in here, (even those of you who might choose to hang out in the rubble, those who hang out in their trouble hearts-the love is still flowing through you, it's just your attitude and outlook that is preventing you from feeling it flowing through and from you and seeing it flowing from others TO you).

Don't go through all the trouble (double, double, toil and trouble) to keep hanging out in the rubble. It takes WAY MORE ENERGY to fight off love and hang out in thoughts of trouble than it does to just let go and let the love and peace of Christ flow through you. It's like using all your energy to hold back the floodgates of love, rather than just let the gates open and be immersed in that love. It's like holding on to a rope in the darkness, hanging on to all your troubles, and if you would just trust Jesus and let go, you would find that your toes are ready to set down on the solid rock upon which your faith is based: Jesus. You just have to let go.

In closing I want you to do something with me. I want you to feel the love in this space. I want you all to be true in following what I ask you to do. First, I want everyone to close their eyes. Every one. Even if you don't do what I say next, I still want you to keep your eyes closed till I say that it's time to open them again. Everyone, please bow your heads and close your eyes now. Now you are going to feel the love in this space. I want you to make a fist in both hands, still keeping your eyes closed. Make a tight fist. Everyone, still keeping your eyes closed, open your fists and spread your fingers wide. Say to yourself "the love of Christ is in this space." Keeping your eyes closed, repeat that slowly to yourself three times...

Every one of you will experience the love in this space differently….Now open your eyes. For some it was a physical sensation; for some of you it was intellectual. For some you will say you didn't feel anything at all. It doesn't matter. It was an opportunity to experience that love in a moment set aside in time. Whether you 'felt' it or not, love flowed through and over you. That's what this space is all about. Love will bring peace to a troubled heart. And as you experience that release from a troubled heart, you will spread that truth, that love to others by telling them about the incredible experience of love and peace that is available to them. Just like you would, out of your own experience, recommend a remedy for a physical ailment, you will recommend this space. Amen. And so it is!

Read more sermons by Pastor Brie