Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter 2b Lectionary Discussion

I missed preaching Easter Sunday, but I love what our preacher did on Easter Sunday. The title was Taking Mary's Part, it was great. I am not preaching this upcoming Sunday either. In fact I don't preach again until May. But if I were preaching this Sunday at Trinity it would be on the Gospel lesson. And it would be in C and C as this Sunday we have a guest preacher for Traditional. I was thinking this morning of the sermon series that my former Pastor, Creede Hinshaw from long ago did, called Easter People. I have always wanted to preach a series called Easter People.

Easter 2b Gospel passage is John 20:19-31. It begins with the disciples hiding out behind locked doors in fear of the Jews. It is the initial appearance of Jesus to them coming through those locked doors. His words to them; "Peace to you". After he has shown himself to them and their recognition, he tells them again, peace to you, but guess what you are now the ones being sent.
Not sure they got that right then and there. But for a dose of assurance he breathes on them the holy spirit so they can do the work of forgiveness in the world.

Well in comes Thomas later after Jesus appearance. He must have gone into deep hiding or something to not be with them. He doesn't believe them at all that they have seen Jesus, after all they have been behind locked doors. It isn't until eight days later that they are all together again, and Jesus makes his second appearance. This time Thomas believes after some persuading from Jesus.

Jesus then says those words to them; "you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."

And so the question comes; How to preach this passage? You can take the approach of the doubts we have, but doubt is not a word used here in the passage. Richard Carlson at WorkingPreaching.org points out that actually Thomas has a response that is conditional using the words "if"..."then". He then goes on to ask and say: How often do we approach our faith relationship as a legal contract in which we seek to establish the terms by which we will respond with faith? "If I have historical proof...If I have a sign...If near-death experiences can verify...If God would do...If Jesus would cure...Then I will believe in Christ...Then I will know that God exists...Then I will know that there is life after death...Then I will make a commitment of faith."

Frederick Buechner wrote in the sermon, "The Seeing Heart," on this text. We've all heard Thomas called "the Doubter," but Buechner focuses on his other name, "the Twin." He confesses that "if you want to know who the other twin is, I can tell you. I am the other twin, and unless I miss my guess, so are you."

You know it would be easy to judge the disciples who hid away in that room behind locked doors led by their fears. It would be easy to smirk at Thomas as well. But I am thankful they decided to come out from behind those locked doors and fears and get about the business of being sent into the world empowered by the breath of the Holy Spirit. But what has happened that we now are the ones seemingly locked behind the doors of the church building or behind our fears? What has happened to our being sent into the world? When did we stop going and started staying behind locked doors? What will it take to get us out again?

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