[ no audio available ] read sermon transcript as follows:
“We Have Seen the Lord” or “There’s a Doubter Born Every Minute”
Last week’s “first-easter-ever” story ended with a refrain that began our 5 for 50 journey…. “I have seen the Lord!” Mary the first post-resurrection evangelist proclaiming the good and profoundly baffling news that Jesus is alive…that in God’s great plan to “make all things new”…dead things come to life.
Now it’s 8 hours later…night falls on the first-ever-easter day….and the disciples are exhausted from running all around Jerusalem sharing the news that Jesus is alive!! – – – uuuuuuh….the story doesn’t go that way does it?
“When it was evening on that day…the doors of the house where the disciples met were locked….for fear that Jewish authorities would round them up (just like they did to Jesus!), put them on trial and put them to death.”
James, one of the sons of thunder…was not so booming and brash this night.
“What do we do? We can’t hide in here forever?
Mary saw him? For reals? Someone said it could have been the gardener. Looking for a quick buck, selling off the body to some sheisters.”
Peter and John stare at James…but then stare through him….at the door of the upper room chamber.
Peter gasps…and declares… “Jesus!”
Jesus moves towards the 11 disciples and their gang of 20 frightened friends and says:
“PEACE BE WITH YOU.”
[breathe in those words…hear them…but take them into your heart, mind, body and soul!] ** how are you feeling? Has the Easter “glow” worn off yet?
Need some peace??
Nathanial speaks the words that’s on a few of their minds… “It’s a ghost!”
Jesus has heard this before from his friends…he says,
“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.”
Levi and Philip are feeling faint…but others are OVERJOYED – – bursting with shrieks of excitement & delight… “It’s as Mary said…you are alive!…I can’t believe it’s true!”
Adrenaline and wonder fill the room…some of the disciples jump around and dance and shout “hosanna, hosanna”…. “YHWH has done great things…praise the Lord, praise the Lord…let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Jesus says to them again…
“PEACE BE WITH YOU!”
[how do you feel @ this point in the story…at the 2nd “peace”? Join the disciples in joy, wonder, still a wee bit of doubt…but again, breathe these words in….to your heart, mind, body and soul…]
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you…”
“I will not leave you as orphans…because I live, you also will live…
The advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sends in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you…”
Jesus takes a deep breath and breathes on the disciples…saying:
“Receive the Holy Spirit…. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven…if you hold back forgiveness…forgiveness is held back from entering and blessing the world!”
Jesus eats and drinks with the disciples…and the gathering buzzes and banters into the night…
* * * * *
The next morning, the disciples wake up and wonder if it’s all been a dream…but their stories seem valid, and they agree that their teacher and friend is indeed alive.
“But what do we do now?” …ponders Philip.
Before John can answer, Thomas bangs on the locked door of the upper room.
He (barges in) and senses a different feel in the room since last time he was there…
“What in the cosmos is going on?”
Several of the disciples shout… “We have seen the Lord!”
They recount the wild experiences of their Sunday night – – a ghostly tale of one who walks through walls….
“It’s just as Mary said! Jesus is alive!” Peter exclaims.
Thomas is un-moved.
“Have you been drinking new wine? Are you out of your mind??
…you weak-minded fools.
Unless I see the nail holes in his hands,
put my finger in the nail holes,
and stick my hand in his side,
I won’t believe it.”
A full week of closed doors meetings, debates and speculation passes…
the disciples are still trying to figure out their next move…
Locked in the upper room they wrestle through more of the where, when, how and who’s….
Jesus, again, like a ninja…enters the “situation room” and startles them.
PEACE BE WITH YOU!
[for a 3rd time…receive this blessing…these words of assurance….but this time, think of how you might respond!] ** how much peace do we need to get breathed up on us before we do something about it?? >> this is grace upon grace <<<
Jesus looks intently into Thomas’ eyes….
“Thomas… PUT your finger here… SEE my hands… REACH out your hand… PUT it in my side… DO NOT DOUBT…. Believe!”
Thomas can’t move! He’s overwhelmed with love, care, compassion and mercy.
He falls to his knees and worships. “My Lord and My God!”
→ Choir sings “Table of Grace”
* * * The good news of today’s story is… Jesus COMES to us…. Jesus Invites us… Jesus empowers us… [the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ breath of life!] This is great news for our time at the table of the LORD…this table of grace… Jesus comes to us….so come! You’re invited. And it’s not on your own strength…you are breathed upon and your life and movement is enlivened by the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT who companions with us and draws us in… And as we receive the PEACE of Christ…we share it with one another….
>>>> Pass the Peace ** we get to breathe on each other…the breath of God, breathed upon us…we breathe it on one another with the words “Peace be with you!” [you know we are “little Christ’s…right?]
*** “As the Father has sent me, so I send you…” (v. 21)
>>>> Words at the Table
*** Jesus keeps coming to us…in Word…Bread….Wine….receive him anew today…
into your hearts,
into your being,
be filled with the presence and PEACE of Christ.
“We open our empty hands to touch and taste of the Lord for ourselves…Jesus is here…with the power and presence to give us what we need…”