Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Notes for the Message based on John 20:19-31; “B” – Lent 2

Scriptures for this week are: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133;1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

You can read these Scriptures here: CEB // NIV // The Message \\ NRSV

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What would you do when, after all the powerful rhetoric and excitement of traveling with Jesus, you discovered that the reality of life after the crucifixion is far from glamorous? What would you do when you realized that the world that you have imagined and prepared yourself for is drastically different from the reality that you have to face?

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Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, the Disciples enjoyed a privileged status among the people who were fascinated by Jesus’ teaching, presence, and healing. The Disciples were actually screening those who tried to come in contact with Jesus; if you wanted to see and talk to Jesus, in many instances you had to pass by the Disciples {i.e. John 12:21}. They were Jesus’ students – peasants and fishermen turned theologians, evangelists, and healers. Jesus even promised to give them the ability to do greater works than he had done {i.e. John 14:12-14}.

In some ways it had to go to their heads. James and John actually asked Jesus to let them sit on his right and left sides when he returned to His Kingdom (Mark 10:35-40).

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Over the last week, however, things went from bad to worse. Jesus had been crucified and buried. The disciples’ hopes and aspirations were crucified with Jesus and left in a tomb with him. They watched the stone seal these hopes on Friday. Their own fate looked uncertain. Sunday morning Peter came to the tomb and he saw that someone had taken Jesus’ body away; what else was he to think? Mary Magdalene came back saying that she had actually seen and spoken with Him. Poor woman; she must have lost her mind…

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And now we find them behind locked doors and terrified; everything that they build their identity on is destroyed; they are scared and they feel powerless; more than likely they do not know how to feel and have nothing to say.

I can relate to their feelings that day. I understand the silence in the room. I understand the apathy that they felt; they did not know what and how to feel or what to do.

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That is when Jesus showed up and said, “Peace Be With You.”

Isn’t it just like Jesus, to appear NOT when we are out in public putting our best foot forward. Isn’t it just like Jesus to appear NOT when we are wearing the appearance of confidence and of having it all together. Isn’t it just like Jesus to show up NOT when we are trying to make a good impression and succeed. Isn’t it JUST like Jesus to sneak into the private moments and spaces of our lives when our masks are down and our desperation gets the better of us. Isn’t it JUST like Jesus to come and be with us in the dark rooms under lock and key where we are scared, frustrated and hurting, and isn’t it just like Jesus to greet us by saying: “Peace be with you!?”

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And with these words Jesus sent the Disciples out:

NIV John 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus tends to send His Disciples out into the world. There is a message for all of us there.

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And then the Gospel reading shifts to Thomas.

In April 2012 we are still climbing out of a recession and there are whispers that the recovery is so weak that it is morphing back into recession. We have a bitter presidential contest and election season ahead of us; our country is almost evenly divided between red people and blue people. All of us are facing personal difficulties and tragedies. Some of these we have shared with our community, some we have kept to ourselves.

As we come to church this Easter season, at least some of our “Alleluias” and Easter Acclamations seem hollow and pointless. That is Thomas!

Traditionally we call him “Doubting Thomas.” How would you react if you saw Jesus crucified, die and put in a sealed tomb? When we read through all the resurrection accounts of all four gospels, we realize that Thomas is not alone in his doubts.

No one in any of the Gospel accounts said to Jesus, “Welcome back,” or “I knew it,” or “What took you so long?” Remember where we found the Disciples today? No one anticipated Jesus’ return and before he showed up, everyone doubted. Everyone.

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And that is the source of our hope. God can take our brokenness and our hollowness and make something beautiful out of it.

Today’s Gospel reading teaches us that we can only practice resurrection as a community. Today’s Gospel reading makes it clear that only as a community with a common vision and purpose do we have a chance to tangibly influence the world where we live (remember Jesus’ words, “I am sending you…”; these words were addressed to a community not to individuals). Today’s Gospel reading teaches us that, just like Thomas, all of us are created with limitations, doubts and imperfections; and that is what makes us unique. God combines our individual uniqueness and binds us into a community that is sent to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

{Open the Altar}

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