2018-04-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2018-04-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2018-04-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton

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John 20:19-23

Though we are 1 week into the season of Easter, we’re going to linger in the space of Sunday night, on that first Easter day.

Last week, in the gospel of Mark we left the men disciples MIA…we were giving prop’s to the women who were on the run, marvelling at the miracle; fearfully in awe of the Risen Christ who was promised as going ahead of them into Galilee.

Roll the story ahead 12 hours and here we find our devoted men of faith (?). Talking about their next steps of spiritual formation and how they will follow Jesus to the ends of the earth…errr…or not!
“The doors of the house where the disciples gathered were locked…for fear…
fear of the jewish authorities…” If they went after Jesus and had him crucified, it’s just a matter of time before they come looking for us!

Imagine the wide-eyed disciples. Shaking in their sandals. Unshaven, unshowered, unfed because they’ve lost their appetites…and are on the verge of losing their wits.

Darkness has fallen…a little bit of relief for this anxious crew as no soldiers or temple authorities have pounded on the door of their upper room hideout.

But then a shadowy figure emerges from the corner of the room…the candlelight reveals…
it’s Jesus!

Peter screams! Ack! How did you?….. Nathaniel feels faint and nauseous…

“Peace be with you!” Jesus proclaims.

–nobody has thought of “and also with you” at this point in history…ok?

James wonders… “What in Golgotha hill is going on here?”

Jesus stretches out his hands… the disciples stare in awe.

Jesus lifts up the edge of his robe and reveals his side. The disciples are dumbfounded!

Philip and Andrew look at each other…and smile…they rejoice!

Jesus says to them again… “Peace be with you!” And this time he adds… “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

A rushing wind fills the room and the candles do not flicker or fade.

Jesus breathes upon them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit!”

Perhaps one of the disciples responds with a prayer from the prayer book of the Psalms

“Save me, O Lord, from my enemies,
I flee to you for refuge…
Teach me to do your will,
For you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” (Ps. 143:9)

* * * * * *

It’s not just a “good spirit” who leads…it’s a Holy Spirit who breathes!
Jesus is alive!
All those mysterious and elusive words from that last night, that last supper…they’re true!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…”

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”

Of course we can’t know for sure that the disciples in this moment remember any of this (imagine how good you are at critical analysis when you are tired, hungry, depressed)…
but 2000 years later we are left with the final exhortation of this other-wordly encounter with the living Christ…


>>>>>> And so we ought to reflect for a few moments…on forgiveness.

Such a big word…such a daunting task…

Jesus says:
“Welcome the Holy Spirit! Whomsoever’s sins you forgive, oh, have they been forgiven! And whomsoever’s sins you retain, oh, have they been retained!” (Bruner translation)

In the context of today’s story, receiving the Holy Spirit is the gateway to transformed disciples…and as the story echoes down to us, we, too, are being transformed by the Holy Spirit…

Into what?

Into forgivers.

One of the signature “so what’s” of Jesus return and his resurrected presence being in the midst of his followers is that they might be a community of forgivers.

And for these 1st C hearers, it’s quite possible that in 85 CE, when this gospel is written and being read at worship services and home gatherings…amongst groups of Jewish Christians who in just a few decades after Jesus’ appearance had become divided over rules, rituals, betrayal,he said, she said, stuff…forgetting the heart of Jesus’ word and getting miffed and annoyed with each other…in the midst of that rivalry and envy (which would never happen today!?! Ummm, there are over 30,000 denominations in the world)…
in the midst of their rivalry and envy, Jesus is saying, “By your forgiveness you will be known.”

Can we pray for and “make it so”… that this would be a signature “so what” here at FBC?

–By your forgiveness, you will be known.

As part of our weekly liturgy, we pray a prayer of confession…we confess our sins…
And then we hear the words of assurance… “In Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, we are forgiven.”

We do this to practice the way of forgiveness…to recognize that we ALL are in need of forgiveness…and that as a forgiven people, we learn the way of forgiving others…friends, neighbours, family members, strangers, people on the margins of our lives…and even enemies!

I don’t suspect that the word is being blasted from the steeple top of our church, but…
Wouldn’t it be a good thing if the word on the street was: “Oh, those people at FBC…
what does the F stand for anyways? Forgiveness?”

Spirit of the Living Christ…fall upon us and fashion us into the form of forgivers!

Forgiveness tops off the stack of great themes and images we carry towards the table of our Lord…
–Peace be with you
–Disciples rejoice
–I send you…
–Jesus breathing “into” disciples…a re-creating breath…they are being “born again!”
** new phrase of the week – “Resurrection Insufflation” – This Jesus breathing piece reminds us of the “creation inbreathing” when “The Lord formed ‘adaam’ from the dust of the ground and BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS the breath of Life” (Gen. 2:7)
–Receive the Holy Spirit

As we partake of the bread and the cup today…as Jesus life and love are given to us, poured into us this day…may we receive anew, the re-creating and re-orienting breath of God…

Breathe on me breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love whate’er you love,
And do what you would do.

Let us continue to follow Jesus in this 50-day season of Easter.
Allowing his peace to be our peace,
Making space for his joy to fill our hearts with compassion,
Breathing in the breath of God so that we might be filled with the strength and desire to forgive
To love whatever and whoever Jesus is empowering us to love in these days.

He doesn’t ask us to do this alone, or in our own power.
Jesus stands among us.
With outstretched hands and healing in his being.
Receive from his presence and his table today!

Hear the words of the Risen Christ:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.