Thursday, April 14th John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-23

How do we tell the story of Easter?

Sunday morning might seem a long way away as we come closer now to the ending of another week buts it is still only a couple of days away. I don’t know what this next Sunday holds in my life or yours, but I do know there are some things that I can count on.

Christians will gather in worship. Their very gathering is a living witness to the story of Easter. Coming together in the morning to remember and celebrate the living Christ is, in and of itself, a means of telling the story.

Once Christians have gathered, they will share words. Words spoken and sung which communicate forgiveness. Actions shared which communicate the accepting, welcoming nature of God’s love for all people. In this re-telling and re-membering of his body, the Easter story continues to be told.

Jesus came into the room of a fearful group of disciples and by his very presence he brought healing and peace into their lives. Just as his death swallows up death, so his presence swallowed up their fear and replaced it with rejoicing.

Then Jesus commissioned them to a very specific task. Breathing his Spirit into them, he invited them to speak from that Spirit the words which would bring his death and resurrection to bear in the lives of others. They were commissioned to speak with God’s voice. They were commissioned to speak forgiveness and cautioned that if they did not speak such words, in a very real way then people would not know that forgiveness.

If they – the disciples, then and now – hold back on speaking Easter words, then Easter words will not be spoken.

It really is amazing to think that Jesus would give his mission away to this same group of fearful friends who only so recently had wilted under pressure. I know we hear that all the time yet it only occasionally sinks in. God uses fearful disciples. God uses a broken church. God’s mission is accomplished by clay vessels.

This church, this people of God, is most like God when it is speaking words of forgiveness, thereby bringing peace into brokenness.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we recognize this morning that we are your contingency plan. You truly do touch the world through fearful disciples. Heighten our sense of the majesty of the simple expressions of love which will be spoken and shared in worship this weekend. Use us in our gathering to be vessels of your forgiving love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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