Monday, April 16, 2012

many sightings and a phone call.

This weekend's sermon comes with a post script....

April 15, 2012
2nd Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

 Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer, amen. 

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

And here we go…nothing like a 50 day celebration, right?  I mean Lent was 40 days, technically not counting those Sundays….but Easter…50 days!  Let’s do this! 

Our gospel lesson for this day is heard every year the Sunday after Easter.   It recounts the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the disciples as they are huddled together in fear and questions and confusion.  And as they retell that encounter to Thomas…they say “We have seen the Lord.”  To which Thomas responds in disbelief. 

It is not until a week later that Jesus reappears as they are all gathered and invites Thomas to touch his hands and his side….and that is when Thomas proclaims his belief in the resurrection.  And that Jesus is Lord. 

In those early days, Jesus appeared to those who believed…yet were hiding.

Jesus appeared to those who had trouble believing. 

Jesus appeared to the frightened the scared and came to be with them in their midst. 

And that didn’t happen just once.  The gospel lessons share different accounts of how the risen Christ appeared to those in their homes and those on the road to Emmaus…

And the risen Christ comes to us now.  In our midst…whether we are joyously celebrating with family or we are struggling alone with stresses, illnesses or doubt. 

Easter is not just one day...Easter is not just the momentary celebration of Christ being raised from the dead….Easter is not just coming to a wonderful, inspiring worship service, picking up your flowers and being on your merry way. 

Easter is coming into worship, being immersed in God’s word, joining in the fellowship at the Lord’s table, sharing in this holy meal, only to be sent back into the hostile world, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to the identity of God as revealed in Jesus.

Easter is not something…the celebration of God conquering death, of Christ being raised from the dead is something that impacts and changes who we are here and now…and as our lives continue from this moment forward. 

And we have been called tell others about how our lives are changed because of this amazing gift God has given to the whole world. 

By the waters that washed over us in baptism, we have been claimed, marked and sent into the world to share the amazing news that Christ is risen!  (He is risen indeed!)  And that makes a huge difference in our lives and our world. 

Having the opportunity to journey with the people of Trinity through Lent with our Lenten devotional, I enjoyed hearing the stories of where people (young and old and in between) had seen God at work in their world….it made me think….now that we are in the season of Easter, and we hear about the first sightings of the risen Christ, of those sharing their stories about the resurrection….those disciples telling Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”

All of this has encouraged my blog entries this season to be about seeing the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of my life here and now. 

The question was posed to friends, family and folks at Trinity this week to share examples of the risen Christ in their midst here and how….here are some places that we have seen the Lord.

Sue says, “In my friends especially my (camp) Calumet friends!”

My friend Gary writes, “Lynn & I just got back from Haiti. In spite of the people's extreme poverty, their faithfulness and joy shines through. The Lord is present in these beautiful people!”

Alicia says, “I've seen the Lord many times at this beautiful place...I think you know it....they call it Nawakwa. He's all OVER that place.... :)”

Heidi says, “
In all of the little ways from the ducks in the pond in the morning on my way to work, to the beautiful sunset at the end of a long day. From my children's smiles and all of the good that is on their hearts...and from the amazing life that He has blessed me with!”

Anne says, “Yesterday, at the Robesonia Community Blood Drive where blood donors willingly extended their arms to give the gift of life. The room was filled with joy, smiles and positive energy.”

And on Monday, the presence of the risen Lord was here.  As family and friends gathered for a funeral…in the midst of grief and loss…we saw the empty tomb.  In the midst of death, we saw the promise of life eternal…we saw the promise of God conquering death….we saw the promise, comfort and hope that God provides for each and every one of us.  Those gathered were wrapped in the love of the arms and hands that had been pierced on a cross…but those arms and hands belonged to the people in this place.  Those who had gathered to say goodbye to a loved one and to comfort and support the family.  The risen Christ was in our midst as we cried, sang, prayed, laughed and ate.  In the fellowship, comfort, questions and grieving….the risen Christ was here. 

Because that’s the other part of seeing the risen Christ in our midst here and now….while so many people shared joyful and celebratory moments, we are called to remember and to proclaim the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of things we cannot understand, in the midst of the death of those both old and young, and illnesses, in the imperfect moments, and in those tough days at work, school or at home…the risen Christ is there as well. 

When we speak or write of our personal encounters with Christ, the story of the resurrection grows and continues.  Each installment that we bring to the story is as peculiar and particular as those in the Gospels.  Our story is Acts chapter 29.  If you look in your Bible, you’ll see that the book of Acts ends with chapter 28….and that’s where our chapter begins.  We continue to tell that story of the Lord’s resurrection and how that changes who we are as people of faith living and working and playing in the world around us. 

Dr. Alan McPherson, connected with the Presbyterian Church in Canada writes, “Christianity is not best spread by the pages of a Book that people don’t believe, don’t read.  Christianity is best read on the pages of the lives of men and women who love God, and in whose lives it shows…He sends us forth as his Father sent him.  We go in his strength, and not just in his name.” 

How are you writing chapter 29 of the book of Acts? 

What is your story?  Your experience of the risen Christ in your midst here and now? 

And more importantly…who will you tell about it? 

Where will you share this moment of seeing the risen Lord in your midst? 

Will you post it on Facebook? 

Will you share it around the dinner table with your family? 

Will you write about it in your blog for others to read? 

How and where will you share this message of resurrection?  How and where will you let others know that your life has been claimed and shaped and marked by the sign of Christ? 

Because here’s the thing…as we leave this place, you will be reminded to “Go in peace and serve the Lord.”   And I can just guess what the reply will, “Thanks be to God.  We will!” 

We will go from this place to serve the Lord, to remember the poor, to see the risen Christ in our midst and to tell others about it.  It’s who we are called to be…and that, my friends, is a pretty amazing thing!  (Something too good to keep to yourself.)

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! 

We have seen the Lord….and can tell others about it.

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

PS...At the 10:45 service on Sunday morning, Pat walked up to Pr. Bill and myself.  It was her birthday this week and here at Trinity, we have a group of folks who make birthday calls.  They call folks to wish them a happy birthday from their Trinity family.  It's a wonderful thing.  Well, this past week Pat was remembering the death of her sister, AnnaMae.  So her phone rings on Saturday, she answers it and hears, "This is AnnaMae, I've called to wish you a Happy Birthday from your Trinity family."   Pat said that it was a wonderful hear her sister's name, to know that folks were thinking of her and knowing that her Trinity family wishes her well. 

That was the presence of the risen Lord in worship, yesterday. 

May the sightings continue....


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