Sunday, 19 April 2015

Can't make it to church? 19 April 15

Here we are again, another Sunday hits the calendar and we find that a piece of broiled fish is all the confirmation we need that Jesus has truly risen from the dead (do I hear a hallelujah?)

It's Easter Sunday and Jesus, having bumped into a couple of people on the road to Emmaus and as He walks along with them they talk about His death. we know it's Easter Sunday because of the narrative and the confirmation 'three days since He was crucified  remark from the men. They reach their destination and ask this stranger to stop and eat with them and it there, in the blessing of the bread, that Jesus is recognises by them - and then He is gone!

And there Jesus was - gone!

Knowing then that what Mary and the others had said about Jesus having risen to be true the two men turn around and leg it back to Jerusalem to tell the other followers, and it it whilst they are sharing that and the disciples are talking about Jesus that appears in the middle of them! 'Peace be with you,' says He and realising there's little of that He shows them the wounds and tells them to prove for themselves He is flesh and blood. This is the same incident that is reported in John 20 thus: "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

Now, we know they were 'terrified' that's why the door was locked and it's a small step to believe that when Jesus appears in the middle of them the word 'surprise' would  featured large  - so the 'startled' description really fits the bill; for the reality is that they are not handling the triumphant resurrection triumphantly at all! Add to this the fear of being the next to be taken off and put to death and the picture is set.

So how to make the realise that what they are seeing is real and prove that Jesus is indeed flesh and blood bit Jesus asks what they have to eat - and the answer is broiled fish - which He takes and  eats in their presence to prove it once and for all. after which the followers are told how they are witnesses to everything about Him and the promises of God and all that good stuff - just as the fish testifies to His resurrection (for ghosts don't eat - do they?) - that's what those who follow Him are also called to do (regardless of your age).

This passage makes a good point in that it is by the simple everyday things that the truth about Jesus is to be found and made real. There were no clever words or persuasive argument - just a piece of fish! The same is true of us and our testimony, for it is in set ordinary everyday experiences that we have the ability to communicate the love of God as seen through the cross of jesus, the Christ, and his resurrection power working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And this leads us so very nicely into the Acts account which today sees some hard, and to those listening offensive, words as Simon Peter calls those who had previously acted in ignorance to set ignorance aside (something Christianity does extremely well if you intoner those who claim we leave our brains at the door and engage then, and others, to dialogue and to reason - something we do with respect and love - because of the love the Father has given us and the love shown by the servanthood and sacrifice of Jesus (the Christ). A love which when those far off and caught up in sin will provide an answer and show them good: good behaviour, good responses to the needs of the world and god in terms of their own lifestyle and actions.

It's all so blinking simple and so obviously logical and rational - we love because God first loved us and we correct others in ways that restore them to right thinking and living and do it through the simple everyday things and objects - and pray that with us too Jesus is to be found in the breaking of bread and the sharing of His word.

The Collect
Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Acts 3.12-19
When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,

Psalm 4
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness; you set me at liberty when I was in trouble; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you nobles dishonour my glory; how long will you love vain things and seek after falsehood?
But know that the Lord has shown me his marvellous kindness; when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.

Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many that say, ‘Who will show us any good?’
Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us. 
You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their corn and wine and oil increase.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for it is you Lord, only, who make me dwell in safety.

1 John 3.1-7
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

Luke 24.36b-48
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Post Communion Prayer
Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread:
open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.Amen.

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