Archive for April, 2013

John 20:26-28

April 3, 2013

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  John 20:26-28


Peace be with you.”  This will always remain a shocking greeting.


“Peace be with you.”  “It’s OK.”  “Everything is alright.”  “Relax, we’re good.”  This is not what we expect to hear from Jesus as he greets his old friends.


The shock lies in the surprise.  We’ve been conditioned to expect something very different.  Jesus should be angry.  His friends deserted him.  No one stood up for him.  No protests were launched.  No secret Seal Team 6 rescue attempts were made.  It had been over a week and they still were too scared to be seen in public.


It seems that Jesus doesn’t speak “shame”.  He doesn’t put his friends down.  He meets their fear with his love.  “Peace be with you.”


Jesus always meets our fears, our limitations, our failures, even our misguided attempts to transcend ourselves….with love.


That’s enough for Thomas.  Jesus seems to have shown up just for him.  Jesus came to Thomas in the way that would work for Thomas.  His greeting was enough.  “Peace be with you” was met with “My Lord and my God!”


I trust that Jesus will meet you as well in the way that works for you.  He’ll just show up.  Even through the locked doors of your fears, your resentments, your unwillingness.  You’ll know him when he shows.  You’ll know the sound of his voice.  He’ll know your name.  And he will speak the language of love.


Let us pray:  For all who mistrust, for all who have given up, for all who need to see you, Jesus, we offer our prayers this morning.  Work the miracle of faith in their lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


John 20:24-25

April 2, 2013

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  John 20:24-25


Sometimes you just want to see for yourself.


People are different from one another.  The Myers-Briggs test reveals 16 personality types.  It is very difficult for people of one type to really understand how life looks and from the perspective of a different type.  Some are highly intuitive – they just “know” things and have no idea how it is that they know them.  Others need facts, numbers, data points, sensory inputs.


Thomas wanted to see for himself.


So do I.


Sure, we live by faith.  We accept certain things we cannot see.  We realize that doubt is the ants in the pants of faith.  Certainty, in a rapidly changing self located within a rapidly changing world, where you never will ever get all the evidence on anything ever, is an oasis.  An illusion.


But aren’t there ways to see for ourselves short of certainty?


I’m thinking that one of the keys is actually looking.  Making some effort to see.


Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you.  Seek, and you shall find.  Knock, and the door will be opened for you.”  He also said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.”


So yes, I want to see for myself.  The question is…am I willing to do the seeking?


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we still live in the shadows of the light of Easter Sunday morning.  Inspire us to seek for you in all things, that we might see you for ourselves.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

John 20:19-23

April 1, 2013

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

The Prairie Home Cemetery was just across 8th street from the college I attended.  (Legend has it that it was the inspiration behind Garrison Keillor’s radio show.)  My college advisor used to joke that every Friday night just before campus curfew turned that cemetery into Easter Sunday as heads would pop up from behind tombstones all over the place.  That was something I never noticed nor participated in.

But I have witnessed the wonders of congregational resurrections greeting Easter Sunday morning.  We had such an experience this weekend as the church was packed.  We ran out of bulletins.  We ran out of parking spaces.  We nearly ran out of bread.

While I love Easter Sunday morning, there is always something that feels a little incongruous to me.

That first Easter found the disciples huddled away in fear behind a locked.  Their hope was gone.  Then Jesus shows up with words of peace.  The mission of the church – loving, forgiving, witnessing, serving – begins.

I counter that with our modern experience.  Everyone in their Easter best.  The church doors wide open.  People are smiling, looking forward to worship.  The pastor succumbs (as I did) to the temptation to preach especially to the folks who only attend a couple of times a year, hopefully in such a manner as to encourage them to really get on board.  Which the “regulars” love but which usually leaves the “occasionals” feeling shamed and thus justified in staying away.  And the pastor Monday morning quarterbacking himself or herself…  Either way, it is a far cry from the loving simplicity of Jesus’ “Peace be with you.”

That first Easter felt like something new was beginning.  Today it tempts us into feeling like we really accomplished something.

In fact, we did.  We praised God for letting us in on the secret that lies at the center of the universe.  There is more to life than meets the eye.  There is less to death than we fear.  We are not alone and life will ever be a mystery.  And now we have work to do.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, thank you for another day of life, living in the loving purposes for which you created us.  Thank you for old friends and new friends.  Thank you for the promise of peace.  And thank you that what you do through us in the world matters.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.