Sunday, 27 April 2014

Can't make it to church? - Apr 27

Easter has been and gone and here we are, with Jesus' followers (less one) hiding in a locked room for fear of the authorities. After all, they've killed the Boss; if they find them that fate will be theirs too. Wouldn't you be locked away? Hopes, leader and courage have all been taken from you (despite what Mary told them).

And then there He is. Standing there before them in a locked room and speaking peace into them - not just to them.  In fact the Shalominess must have been liquid and flowed like treacle (rather than the oil that dripped from Aaron's beard) as He blows on them so they receive the Holy Spirit, and then he's gone!

They filled with no more apparent faith at this encounter (and yet blowing works for Benny Hinn, why not Jesus?) are still hiding in the room a week later (so it's not just modern Church leaders that have that problem then!) and this time the missing Thomas is with them. He's already told them that seeing is believing and because he hasn't he doesn't!

Here He is again, back in the locked room and Thomas believes (because he's seen?). Here's a man who is back from the dead (read the Acts account) and the disciples are unmoved by the meeting. perhaps this should make those who encourage people to engage with their faith and see little result a bit more relaxed - if it don't work for Jesus, why should it work for us? No wonder people can't get out there and witness and make Christ known in word and the way we live!

And then there's Thomas - the doubter - the curse of the Church. Or is he? For I think not - I think he's a proven hero and is exactly what Church should be about, for we must never leave our brains at the door, we must always challenge, test and examine lest we end up following a con and letting our ears be tickled by compelling, and yet wrong. teaching.

So today - in your locked rooms (physical or spiritual) welcome the risen Christ into your presence and let His Shalom flow over you bringing a peace that the world neither understands or can diminish. Let Him touch your body, mind and circumstance and may you proclaim the triumphant reality of Easter in that He is indeed risen. What better words to cry - what better reality to live.

Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father. Amen.

Acts 2.14a,22-32
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know - this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,  nor did his flesh experience corruption.”

This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

John 20.19-31
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.’

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.’

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!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Post Communion
Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him:
deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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