Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preacher's Study - 2 Easter

Monday morning in the Preacher's Study

First thoughts about next Sunday's sermon (2 Easter Year C)
Todd Townshend

What is the first thing on Jesus’ post-resurrection “to-do” list? In John’s gospel, on the evening of the day that Jesus was raised up from the dead, he enters a room filled with disciples who are trying to lock out all that threatened them. He appears twice amid their doubt and believing, brings them his peace, breathes the Holy Spirit on them, and sends them out again in his name. 

This encounter is necessary, continually, in the face of the Resurrection because the new Creation creates a kind of chaos in what remains of the old order. His followers have to get “in touch with” this new creation. It’s less about doubt than it is about the Word and Spirit moving the disciples past the perceived chaos, and their well-founded fear. 

So in contrast to the Easter gospel according to John (20:1-18), Jesus now allows his followers to touch and see him. The good news of Easter is still primarily heard, but the incarnate and risen One reaches out to them once more out of compassion and the desire to save. Jesus invites them to touch his wounds and to taste the goodness of his risen life. 

This appearance of Jesus is astonishing. The disciples are locked away in a room of fear. They’ve lost hope and are looking for a way out. Without Jesus, they are nobodies again. Threatened nobodies. They are confused and bewildered, not just by the appearance itself, but also by the fact that Jesus did not come through the door! Nothing is happening the way it’s supposed to happen. Nothing seems real. 

The physical evidence of his suffering helps to identify him, but it is his command “Shalom!” that reignites the whole biblical witness for them, especially the promise of life made in the face of death. The words “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22), along with the breath of life upon them, bring them to a new Creation moment when the dust of the earth is formed into flesh, when dry bones are knitted together into life. Jesus establishes a new humanity from the people he loves, thereby giving all people a future in God. 

They have been re-membered. The future is God’s future, and God’s future involves God’s people in Shalom and in Spirit.

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