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

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.


7 Responses to “John 20:19-23”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    So glad to see you writing again. I’ll be passing these along again as I have done for years. Lou Anzalone, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lionville PA

  2. Georgene Says:

    I read this and thought, “that sounds exactly like something Paster Kerry would write” and then I realized it was you…back with us again. Your messages always touch me. Thank you.

  3. Debra Says:

    Thanks for writing again!!!!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    My thanks, also -I have really missed your daily commentary!

  5. Deb Says:

    Really thoughtful message today. One to think and re-think over and over again. Peace be with You!

  6. Sharon Longnecker Says:

    Thank you so much for writing again. I am passing them along to a large group as I have for many years. When you don’t write, I have been recycling some of the favorites, such as the set on the fruit of the Spirit. God bless you and your family and your minister, Pastor Kerry.

  7. Sharon Longnecker Says:

    I meant to write ministry.

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