Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Receive the Spirit of Peace - John 20


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Receive the Spirit of Peace
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
8 April 2018

A sermon based upon Psalm 133; John 20:19-31; 1 John 1-2

Will you pray with me?  Holy and gracious God, open our hearts and minds to receive the lesson given to us today. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer. Amen!


First a question for you: do you realize that we are celebrating Easter?
We easily forget that Easter is a season rather than one day.
I can understand this too as we see the bags of candy now dwindling in the dollar bins (believe me I know).
There is also more room in the pews than last Sunday.

There are a several themes in the lesson for today.

For one, we have the familiar story of the doubting apostle.
I have heard many sermons about how this story should make one feel guilty for being skeptical of the Easter story. 
Yet, I wonder if Thomas was really doubting but instead,
sad that he missed a great opportunity.
Instead of talking about doubt and guilt,
I would like to focus upon the theme that begins our rich lesson.
What does the appearance and the Spirit mean to them in the room and to us here?

The scripture indicates to us that the followers were scared
and perhaps still mourning the loss of their master.
There is nervous tension in this story 
And a serious question lurking of what to do now.
They are lost and worried.
To their credit, The Apostles
have had a bit of their world turned upside down watching the torture of the Master
—wondering if they were next.
Still, they have been taught many things with instructions from the Master.
Yet, they still don’t seem to know what to do?

In my youth, when my parents would ask me to do something
and discovered me doing something else in my room. 
There might be a knock at the door and maybe some toes tapping.
Maybe, there might be some talking back and forth
-- why the dishes weren’t done or something. 
Maybe, there is some strong suggestions,
if you don’t come out of that room right now…
or even hands in the air.
Do you know this experience ?

Then suddenly we experience the Master again!
Does Jesus barge in and ask “what are you doing?”,  demanding if you don’t come out of the room…or anything of the like.

Instead, the first expression cited is “Peace be with you.” 
Think about it,
Jesus comes into a room locked in anxiety and directs, “Peace.”
That is a Master at work.

I have known a few people who could walk into a room and command attention,
but this is truly phenomenal.
Jesus comes to teach again, to clear the air and to breathe new life into the followers.
Jesus reminds them of the earlier lessons, and passes the Spirit into them.
That despite fear and anxiety, the Spirit says the time has come. 
It is time to transform and recognize your community, to be peace and to be forgiveness.

Just like with Jesus, through the Apostles, the past will not define our future.
That is the true power of forgiveness.
Through the Spirit, we are the community that forgives and transforms 
and we have the power to transform every day and in every breath.
That comes from peace and that is one reason this is first.

We do not need to be worried about what happens
because the power of the Spirit lives on, here today and inside you.
Question is: What do you do with this gift of peace?

Again, This is a reminder to recognize the strength of community
and perhaps one reason why Thomas is upset to miss this opportunity.
Wouldn’t you be upset too if you missed the opportunity to meet the Master? 
Just like Thomas, the Master did not forget you —
Because together, we have the opportunity right here and now to meet the Master
in this fellowship.

Through this fellowship, we are not alone
and our Psalm tells us how great it is to live in this community.
Further, community is defined by love, by compassion, by prayer, and by peace.
Do you recognize your community?

We get to encounter life and peace through the presence of Spirit.  
We live the Spirit in our relationships: crying together, laughing together and working together. With whole heart and fellowship, we bring peace of the Spirit into the room.

We do not need to be afraid of doing the Lord’s work. 
In fact, we are commanded to love and to forgive.
We start with ourselves because each of us here needs to heal.
Our bodies may be getting old and broken,
but our Spirit can be strong in love, forgiveness and yes Peace.
Then, our community can heal and thrive.

Thus, we can serve and heal our community through true forgiveness: transformation.
Our community calls upon us to live in peace and love!

This is not just a few lines in pages of a book.
This is how the good of Christ lives here and now.
This is how we cure violence in our streets and bring justice to the afflicted.
This is how we bring love into our laws.
This is how we reject hate-spewing divisions or corrupt judgements.
This is how Christ lived and taught and we, the followers,  are reminded today. 
God wants this! God commands it!
Are you one of the followers?
Do you remember this lesson in your own words and deeds?

When each of us do this, we are examples of love and forgiveness embodied. We help our community and country heal.  We rise up to meet the challenge commanded of us by the LORD. We are not perfect and maybe a bit broken, but we have heart, blessing of peace, and call to build our community.

Therefore, you can observe Jesus is still teaching us today.  That is how we witness and live Christ’s peace in our life and our community.

Peace Be with You.

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