Speaker: Rev. Doug de Graffenried
Scripture Passage: John 14:1-4
Becky Clark sent us a message early this morning with a physical malady. How do you like that? So, she was supposed to be preaching in Jonesboro. Chris is preaching and Jonesboro. he had, I don’t know, 2 hours’ notice that he had come up with a sermon. So, pray for him. He did OK. That’s what we do during the offertory. That’s when our sermons are really written. So, pray for Chris and pray for Becky. Let’s pray. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
We went Friday to Lowe’s, and I put plants in the basket. I attempted to build a redneck green house. My redneck green house was a failure, and I’ve got to replant and put all new plants in. So, I got plants. And Tamara had been encouraging me to change out the kitchen faucet, and I’m trying to walk to the checkout. And Tamara said, are we going to get that new faucet? I guess so. We walk back to the faucet section. I stand back and I just let her shop. She says, I want this one. Okay. take the box to the Lady at the front of Lowe’s. There’s actually a human being checking us out in Lowe’s. it was a miracle. Looked at my plants, looked at my faucet and said, gonna be busy this weekend, aren’t you? Yes, ma’am. Well, the faucet sat there all day yesterday. It’s right on the island where I can see it. big, big Moen box. I can see it.
I know it’s there. I took my time. cleaned out under the cabinet, got everything out. told Tamara, OK, let’s go. The house is 75 years old. The plumbing doesn’t come through the walls. It comes up through the floor. Everything comes up through the floor. Now, I don’t know if you noticed this or not, but I’m not a slight, small, skinny individual, and I had to proceed to get under there.
My back is lifted up about that high off the floor because that’s the ledge. And I have wedged myself under there, and I am proceeding to do plumbing. Cut-up the pit bull was visiting and cut up the pit bull decided with most of my body under the cabinet he wanted to stand on my chest and give me pit bull loving. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to do plumbing with a pit bull in the house. But I have one dog right here. Slurping, slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp. And then Rolo, cut up’s nemesis, decided he’s jealous and he wants to get in there. So, I’ve got all these dogs. I’m in here backwards thinking. I wonder how dentists do this. Dentists have mirrors, and I wonder if I could do that with a mirror. Nope. my hands are in places that my hands had no business going and I’m remembering used to back in the day on LPB, they would show this old house and they would spend a whole episode on this old house showing you how to take the faucet out, how to put the new faucet in, how to have somebody come and inspect your faucet. And it was you just sat there for an hour watching Now they have HGTV. They will show you a kitchen at the beginning of the show. 23 minutes later, at the end of the show, they show you the same kitchen. It has been completely renovated, completely changed out. There was no pit bull on the contractor’s chest. There were no adult languages used in desperation. There were no things I shouldn’t have said because we just live in a TV world that everything is instant. And not even the clerk at Lowe’s on HGTV will say, looks like you’re going to be busy this weekend.
Got it done. It doesn’t leak. Everything got put back. I got major husband points. I got one point, y’all guys, you know, that’s all the points you get. OK, one point. If you do something, one point when I was laying there with the dog on my chest thinking Jesus is going to prepare a place for me. Scripture said it. I was having an epiphany right there under the sink. Jesus is going to prepare a place for me. Jesus is a carpenter. And, you know, we picture Jesus working in the woodshop, but he wasn’t that kind of carpenter. He was the kind of carpenter that put the second floors onto the homes. He was the kind of carpenter that called the four by fours and he was the kind of carpenter that with hand tools, cut them, planed them and made them fit. He was the kind of carpenter that built houses for people to live in. He was tough. He was rugged. He had splinters. I wonder if Jesus ever slammed his thumb with a hammer. He’s gone to prepare a place for me, and somehow that’s all I need to know. That’s all I need to think about when I hear this word from John’s gospel.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. In my father’s house, there are many dwelling places, and I’m going to prepare that place for you. We have officially started Palm Sunday. You can tell we’ve started Palm Sunday because the kids came in waving palms. And I hope you’ve got your palms because what I want you to do is I want you to we have all kinds of palms. I want you to take a palm home with you, keep it all year, keep it in a place where you can see because the palm is supposed to be a reminder for you to pray, to pray for yourself, to pray for your family, to pray for your church. And then next year in the spring, on Transfiguration Sunday, that’s last Sunday before Lent, we ask you to bring your palms back, and we take the palms on Palm Sunday, and we burn them, and they become the ashes for Ash Wednesday. So, the church year just tells you what’s going on and sets you up for the rest of the year. Palm Sunday is here on Thursday. We’re going to have our Passover Seder meal in the gym at 6:00. And then Friday, the chancel choir will be doing a cantata at 7:00 in the sanctuary. And then next Sunday we gather in here for worship with the words, he is risen. and he is risen. Indeed, it’s Easter. Thank God it’s Easter. We need Easter in our lives.
So, Jesus has passed into Jerusalem with Hallelujahs and the hosannas of the children and adults. He has come into Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey. and I promise you there’s already discussion next year about having a donkey. I was in the chapel this morning before the early service. I kind of hang out there and pray and talk to God, and Duddy was in there and Duddy was telling me the story of Trinity’s donkey that there have been donkeys in the worship spaces at Trinity United Methodist Church.
I brought a donkey in First Methodist Church in Lake Charles and the donkey had to have special shoes on because the center aisle is sloped and it’s a slate floor. So, the donkey couldn’t walk on the slate because the donkey’s legs were going four different directions. The first year I was in Natchitoches, they just opened a brand-new contemporary worship space, and I decided the best thing to do with the brand-new contemporary worship space was to have a donkey on Palm Sunday. You should have seen the looks when that donkey’s hooves touched the brand-new Methodist Carpet. Methodist do get possessive about their flooring and donkeys, but I think next year we’re going to find us a donkey. Don’t you think we need to have Palm Processional with a donkey here? We’re going to work it out. We’ll figure out the donkey and some of the people are going, oh, Lord, he’s going to bring in a donkey.
Jesus has come in riding a donkey. They’ve held him as a king. It’s an act of insurrection. It’s subversion against the Roman Empire. The Jews have definitely made up their minds. He’s got to go. and he goes through the week, and he’s gathered with his disciples to eat the Passover Seder. And he has unfolded and the farewell discourse in the gospel John, what’s going to happen. He’s told the disciples; I’m going to be betrayed. I’m going to be handed over to the Jews. I’m going to be killed. And Simon Peter, your de facto leader, he’s going to deny me, and you are feeling the pressure of the Roman Empire and the Jewish nation as it comes to bear on me. And these men are sitting around this room and there’s the pall of death, and they are afraid. And Jesus says, do not let your hearts be troubled.
The Greek word for troubled is (ταράσσω) tarassō. do not let your hearts be (ταράσσω) tarassō. Don’t let them be troubled. He is not talking about grief. He is not talking necessarily about loss. He is talking about those things that trouble and bother our hearts. And right now, in this room are people with (ταράσσω) tarassō. they are troubled in their hearts. They’re worried about getting their kids in college. Where are they going to go, how they’re going to go, how they’re going to pay for it. They’ve met the FAFSA paperwork and wondering how in the world can you fill out this paperwork? They’re kids Wondering, what am I going to do when I go off to college? There was actually a major when I was at the University of Alabama called Basket Weaving. Lots of the football players took it wasn’t very profitable after you graduated, but they took it. There are other students that are worried about graduate school. how to get in. Where am I going to go? How am I going to pay for it?
Am I in the degree program I need to be? They are suffering from (ταράσσω) tarassō. There’s some that are 42, three, four years old, and they’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years and they’re looking out in the future and they’re wondering, Can I keep doing what I’m doing for another 20 years?
You know, this year in the Methodist Church, we had 18 retirements and then we had four or five ministers that just said, I’m taking a leave of absence try to figure out what I’m going to do, what I’m going to be. There are people you’re worried about your health. Doctor walks into the examining room, opens a file folder, does a bunch of grunting and nodding and says, well, this is what the tests say. This is what the prognosis these are. And this is what the treatment plan is. Troubled hearts worry about tomorrow. I got to get up tomorrow and I’ve got to go to work tomorrow. And I’ve got to do the things I need to do. And my heart is heavy, and my heart is troubled. My heart is bothered. Jesus said do not let your hearts be (ταράσσω) tarassō. So do not let them be troubled. You believe in God, believe in me and my father’s house are many dwelling places.
The King James says in my father’s house are many mansions. And that’s a very unfortunate translation because the word for dwelling places is the same word you found over in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel, where Jesus said, abide in me as I abide in you. The word abide and the word dwelling place are the same Greek words. Jesus is going to prepare a place for us. He is going to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house. That’s all I need to know. That handles my (ταράσσω) tarassō for me, I trust in God, I trust in Jesus. And I know that Jesus is going to prepare a place for me. And then when I get there, it’s been made for me by Jesus. That’s it. I don’t need to know any more. and Jesus is the way. He is my destination. He is my traveling companion. He is my hope of being in the father’s house.
I used to worry about that. I did grow up going to church all the time. And I wondered if heaven wasn’t like an eternal worship service. Then I thought, oh, that can’t be. And you would Listen to people talk about wanting to go to heaven. And it was like, oh, I don’t want to go there. I really don’t like the alternative. But heaven doesn’t sound like a lot of fun either. You know, it’s robes and wings and clouds and harps and brother Doug, we’re just always going to be there singing God’s praises. I got thrown out of the choir. you know I can’t sing. I’m a vocal hitchhiker. I just hope you’re on tune while I’m trying to hitchhike off you. but I wanted to describe the father’s house to you. This place we’re going to end up. And the description of it. And the hope of it is found in a story that Jesus told in the 15th chapter of Luke’s gospel.
A man had two sons and the baby boy of the family said, Daddy, I want my inheritance. I’m tired of you. I’m tired of your children. I’m tired of your farm. I want my inheritance. Just give it to me and I’ll get out of here. And the dad, incredibly, gave the son his inheritance, which happened to be land. And the only way the good Jewish boy could cash in the inheritance was to sell the land to a Gentile. He could not sell it to a Jew. A Jew would not buy it. He sold it to a Gentile. So, the good Jewish boy, in order to get money has sold Jewish land to a Gentile and this boy skedaddled. He went into a far country, and he enjoyed the money he had a few days later, he gathered all he had, and he traveled to a distant country. And there he squandered his property in dissolute living. you can only imagine you can’t you. And when he had spent everything, he’s got no money. He also has no friends now. A severe famine took place throughout that country and the boy began to be a need. So, he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country who sent him to his field to feed the pigs. good Jewish boy should not be slopping the hogs this obviously was a gentile man with a warped sense of humor. I’m going to will send that good Jewish boy out to do something that’s unclean. So, the boys slop in the hog and he’s about to put his face in the pig slop because he’s starving. And the Bible says, and he comes to himself he says, how many of my father’s servants have food enough to eat? But here I am about to put my face in this slop. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to go home.
So, he goes home. He’s preparing his speech. Father, I have sinned before heaven and before you. I’m no longer worthy to become your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. He’s got it down. He’s ready to do the TikTok video. He knows the rap. I’m saying I don’t think the son was really hardly sincere at this point. He’s just hungry. And the Bible says the father sees him afar off and runs and hugs him and heads compassion for him and kisses him and welcomes him back. and he tells some of his assistants, he said, look, go get the robe. The best robe. Go get the ring. Put the ring on his finger. put the sandals on his feet, get the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found, and they have a party such that the older brother out in the field hears music and dancing that’s what the father’s house is like. Music and joy and celebration and dancing. Why? Because sinners have come to know God. Because sinners have found the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Because those who were walking in darkness have seen a great light. heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. And Heaven’s going to rejoice when we get there. Because we gave our hearts and our lives to Christ. And Heaven is not going to be a home that is going to be dull and quiet. It’s going to be a place of joy and celebration and, shh don’t tell some people, there might be a little dancing going on in heaven, because we’re going to rejoice that we’re there. because we’re going to be made whole because our (ταράσσω) tarassō, our trouble is going to be taken from us there will be no more night there. There’ll be no more sickness there. There’ll be no more deaths there. They don’t even lock the gates in heaven. Every conversation and every relationship will be pure and holy because there will be no hidden agendas. no trying to outdo the other one. no frienemies we will be children of God in the Father’s house.
Jesus said, Guys, I know your hearts are troubled but trust me, I’m going to prepare a place for you. And because of the cross, because of that cross that Jesus died on, on Good Friday, you and I one day will have a crown and heaven. because of the cross where he gave his life for us. One day we will enter the Kingdom of God because of the cross you and I can know Jesus. we don’t need to have troubled hearts because one day we’re all going home to a place that the carpenter son, who was himself a carpenter has prepared for us. what a homecoming that will be.
Would you stand and pray with me?
Until you call us home? Father, walk with us. walk with us through the valleys. Stand with us on the mountains. Encourage us on our journeys In between, so that while our hearts may still be troubled, we know the strength and the power of your presence that will ease and lighten our burdens. Bless us Lord as we journey to the Father’s house.