THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER AD 2023
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.  Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."  And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.  These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.  Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 7:2 And Stephen said:
"Brothers and fathers, hear me. "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.  Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,  you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."
 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.  Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
1 Peter 2:2-10
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation—  if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands in Scripture:
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,"
"A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense."
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. 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, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to 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 had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
A troubled heart? No question about it, there’s one of those beating up here in this sinner’s chest this morning. In this quiet place in the pasture’s of Perth County with my honey bees buzzing in the air there have been peaceful sunny days in the past 24 years but that has not been the case this Spring, not by a long shot. Beyond the dreary rainy days and even drearier snowy ones, I’ve been in a state of constant stress since my Father’s unfortunate accident on April 3rd. A troubled heart? Yes, the thing of little faith that beats in my chest, that’s so slow to believe, has been just a little troubled this spring. It was stressed beyond measure before it was broken on Friday with the news of the sudden death of our dear sister Elly, that brought me rushing back from my Father’s hospital bed to be with those who loved her.
This has without a doubt been a troubling Spring for me but truth be told there’s always plenty for my heart to be troubled about. Sadly, it is the way things go in this world of sin. The devil will give us no peace. He is ever stirring up trouble for us, rallying his forces against us, and then leading us to mediate on it all to try and overcome us with worry and care and lead us to despair. If it’s not things like heart attack, stroke or cancer or some other awful disease that could strike our own bodies at any moment, there can be all the trouble that can come to the heart over when such things could or have happened to those that we love. There are also all kinds of other troubles for the heart over others - with the troubling choices that they make in their lives. There are the little troubles that come with little children or bigger troubles that can come with bigger children or even the biggest troubles of all that can come sometimes with parents.
Beyond our homes there’s plenty for our hearts to be troubled about with what’s going on in the world - the utter Godlessness of our age which simply cannot and will not end well. The good arts that God has given us like medicine and science have been so perverted from their true purpose that what was given to heal is now used to mutilate and even kill and what was given to discover the glories of God in His creation is used to wage war on Him and deny His very existence. The good gifts of government and justice that were given as means by which God might rule our lives in peace have turned into means to overthrow God’s good order and pervert His law. A troubled heart, yes,it not a stretch to have one of those in this world, even if it doesn’t have all kind’s of personal worries like mine.
Thankfully our Lord Jesus has a beautiful Word for troubled hearts this morning. A beautiful Word that He spoke to the twelve on the night when He was betrayed because He knew that they would need it, as He knew that we would need it. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” He says, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” “I am the only begotten Son of the Father”, He says, “who is one with Him, who reveals His very heart to you. I am the one that He sent into the world to prepare a place for you in His house, to be the way the truth and the life for you back to Him. I came down from heaven and entered the darkest night for you, the night of fear and despair, the night when death draws near. My heart was troubled even unto death for you so that I might deliver you from all of your troubles, so that I might quiet your hearts with my peace.”
“I went into the night for you and I returned out of it having prepared a place for you in my Father’s house through my own bitter sufferings and death. I was cast out on the cross so that you might be let into heaven. I was lost in the night so that I might be your way home to God. I was damned under the lie so that I might be your truth. I was swallowed up by death so that I might be your life. I wept for a night so that I might bring you joy on the morning of that glorious third day when I came back, that I might be with you to take you through life to that joyous place that I have prepared for you.
I came to you in the waters of your Baptism so that I might be in you and you might be in me even as I am in the Father and the Father is in me. I have bound your life to mine as surely as my life is bound to the Father’s. I am with you, that where I am you might be also. Lest you doubt this I come again to you this morning in my body and blood and invite you to My Father’s table. I give you a place here at His table so that you might know that there is a room prepared for you in His house. I come to you here so that you might believe that I will bring you there.”
“I return to you today,” the Lord Jesus says, “in my flesh and blood so that receiving me I may dispel the troubles of your hearts, as I come to take my place in them with the truth of who I am and what I have done for you. And so when troubles come into your heart hold fast my dear ones to the Word that I have spoken to you. Hear my voice, let it resound in the farthest corners of your heart, let it chase away your worries and cares with the truth of who I am and what I have done for you. Let it echo around the chambers of your heart. Over and over again hear me saying to you, “ Let not your hearts be troubled believe in God believe also in me””
A troubled heart? No, I shouldn’t have one of those, and neither should you, as much as we might have good cause to have one, because you only have one of those when you allow trouble to reign where Christ should be enthroned as King. That is something that I need to repent of today, beloved, as there might be some of you who need to repent of it too, because we have allowed trouble, worry and care to usurp our King’s rightful place. The Lord Jesus sat on the throne of the cross and was crowned with thorns, so that He could be the true monarch of our hearts, beloved, and today He processes into them through our ears with the Royal proclamation of His Word and speaks out to cast worry off of the throne of our hearts so that he can take up his rightful place in them to reign over us in peace. “ Let not your hearts be troubled believe in God believe also in me””
Truly beloved no trouble can live in the heart where Jesus abides, because He casts them all out with His truth. And so when they try to sneak in and try to wear his crown and sit on His throne turn to Christ in His Word, look to Christ Him in His body and blood and He will expel them from your hearts with the sword of His mouth. For truly as Christ saw His disciples through those horrendous days when He was taken and crucified for them, He is faithful and true, and no matter what lies ahead for us, beloved, He will not fail us also. Amen.