Easter 2-A

                                                                                                                                                          John 20:19-31

                                                                                                                                                          April 23, 2017- 8am

                                                                                                                                                          St Columba’s

 

           In the Name of God: Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

 

Intro

 

           Throughout our journey in Eastertide, we will be having encounters with the Risen Christ.

 

           In the first few weeks, they will be encounter stories as the Risen Christ appears to his Disciples in different situations.

 

           And in the final few weeks, our encounters will be through what Jesus teaches and says.

 

           So let’s begin with Today’s Encounter.

 

I. Encounter

 

A. Our Gospel reading picks up right where we left off last Sunday – only a little later in the day.

             

                      1. Mary has been to the tomb and returned with her startling news.

 

                      2. Peter and John have been to the tomb and returned dumbfounded.

 

                      3. And then Mary returns again – this time with news more fantastic than before – that she has seen Jesus and he’s ALIVE!

 

                      4. Then as they begin to argue with one another that this couldn’t possibly be true – THERE HE IS – Jesus is suddenly standing in their midst,

                                 - and their lives were never the same again.

 

           B. Jesus stands among them and says, “Peace be with you.”

 

                      1. And he shows them his hands and his side – just to prove it’s really him.

 

                      2. He then gives them their marching orders, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

 

                      3. Then to help them, he BREATHES on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”

 

                      4. Now, THAT’S an encounter with the Risen Christ!

 

           C. But Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus came – and when the

Disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” – he thought it was a cruel joke.

 

                      1. So, one week later, Jesus returns and Thomas has his own encounter with the Risen Christ.

 

                      2. Jesus says, “Don’t doubt – believe.”

 

                      3. And Thomas does, crying out, “My Lord and My God.”

 

                      4. Truly an encounter with the Risen Christ.

 

II. Our Encounters

 

           A. What about OUR encounters with the Risen Christ?

 

                      1. Very few of us will have an encounter like Thomas or the other Disciples.

                      2. But how do WE encounter the Risen Christ in our lives, in our time?

 

           B. Writing on this topic, the award winning author of many books on Spirituality, Joyce Rupp, says this:

 

                      Some time ago, I met two persons, at separate events, who had unusual spiritual experiences.  One woman at a retreat described a vision of Jesus she had many years ago.  Another told of a childhood moment when she saw her guardian angel.  Neither one expected these encounters to take place but each person valued their experience and allowed it to influence their faith.  These extraordinary events remind me of how terrified the disciples were when they met the Risen Christ.  The encounter was totally unexpected, and greatly dismayed them, but later it had a significant impact on their faith.

 

When "God experiences" don't fit our expectations, it is very easy to dismiss or try to rationalize them out of existence.  Yet, they do happen to some people, most of whom say nothing for fear of being ridiculed or considered delusional.  Most of us will not have this type of intense divine encounter.  If we stop to consider the possibility, though, we do have daily events that surprise us with the Risen Christ's presence.  Touches of surprising beauty, unexpected generosity, and unanticipated caring enter our lives on a regular basis.  These events might not be exceptional visionary experiences, but they do bring with them a sense of wonder at how the Risen One enters our life and greets us.

 

           C. What encounters with the Risen Christ have you had recently?

 

                      1. When have you had a “touch of surprising beauty,” or experienced “unexpected generosity?”

 

                      2. How have you had an encounter with the Risen Christ – and how might you share that?

 

                      3. You see, THAT’S what WE are called to do – to share the Risen Christ with all those we meet.

 

                      4. To share those experiences and His love with those who need it so much.

                      5. That’s what Jesus told the Disciples to do – and that’s what Jesus tells us to do as well.

 

                      6. So ask yourself, “How have you encountered the Risen Christ?” and, HOW might you share that with someone else – and WHO might that someone be?

 

Conclusion

 

           Jesus still comes with His blessing, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  

 

           The Risen Christ has already greeted you.

 

           He breathes on you, on the Church, on this world in which we all live.  

 

           Where is he sending you today?

                      - To whom is he sending you today?

                      - What gift does he ask you to bring?

[Let Us Pray]

 

           Our concluding prayer is a portion of the prayers we used Friday Evening in our Celtic Contemplative Prayer Service.

 

           At the end of each petition, I invite you to say: “Risen Savior, hear our prayer.”

 

Let Us Pray:

 

Risen Lord, you have blessed us with this season of hope and commitment ... keep our eyes always open to see your miracles in our midst ...

ALL:                      "Risen Savior, hear our prayer."

 

Risen Lord, your creation is filled with mysteries and wonders every day ... give us the grace to stop and pay attention to the glories all around us  ...

ALL:                      "Risen Savior, hear our prayer."

 

Risen Lord, your disciples were originally filled with fear and trepidation ... give us glad and generous hearts and help us to trust that you are with us in every difficulty and every joy ...

ALL:                      "Risen Savior, hear our prayer."

 

Risen Lord, your disciples felt lost when you were crucified ... when we feel lost or discouraged, send your Spirit to strengthen us in our witness

ALL:                      "Risen Savior, hear our prayer."

 

Risen Lord, your disciples were filled with awe and wonder when they realized you were in their midst again ... fill us with the same awe and wonder as we seek to serve you ...

ALL:                      "Risen Savior, hear our prayer."  AMEN.

                                                                                        (Wild Goose Book of Worship - adapted)

 

 


 

Easter 2017

                                                                                                                                                                        Matt 28:1-10

                                                                                                                                                                        April 16, 2017

                                                                                                                                                                        St. Columba’s

 

           In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

I. The Women

 

           A. One day, three men were hiking along and came upon a raging, violent river.

                      1. They needed to get across to the other side, but had no idea how to do it.

                      2. The first man prayed to God, saying, “Please, God, give me the strength to cross this river.

 

                      3. And Poof! God gave the man big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about two hours.

 

                      4. Seeing this, the second man prayed to God, saying, “Please God, give me the strength and ability to cross this river.”

 

                      5. And Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about three hours.

 

                      6. The third man, seeing how things had worked out for the other two, also prayed to God, saying, “Please, God, give me the strength and ability and intelligence to cross this river.

 

                      7. And Poof! God turned him into a woman; she looked at a map, then walked across the bridge.

 

           B. Humor aside, there’s no denying the importance of women in this story.

                      1. Women were not highly valued in the society of Jesus’ day, and because of that they were able to be there.

 

                      2. Nobody cared if a group of women were there at the foot of the cross.

                      3. Nobody cared if a group of women followed the body to the tomb.

                      4. Nobody cared if a group of women carrying spices went to the tomb early on a Sunday morning.

 

                      5. The irony is that at a time when women were not even considered credible enough to give testimony in Jewish courts, these women were the first to offer witness to the Easter miracle.

 

II. Story

 

           A. There hadn’t been time on Friday, after Jesus’ death, to properly prepare his body for burial.

 

                      1. There was only enough time to wrap him in a shroud and get his body in the tomb before sundown came and the Sabbath began.

 

                      2. So now that the Sabbath was over, as the first streaks of light shone in the sky, Mary Magdalene and her friend hurried back to the tomb to properly anoint the body.

 

                      3. As they arrived, suddenly an Angel streaked through the sky and rolled back the stone at the entrance of the tomb and sat on it.

 

                      4. The Angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then GO quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

 

                      5. The women were stunned – “Dear God, could it be true?”

 

                      6. And as they began to stumble their way back to the Disciples in the pre-dawn light, there HE was – it was Jesus.

 

                      7. They threw themselves on the ground and clutching his feet they worshipped him.

 

                      8. And then, he picked them up and said, “Hey, it’s O.K., don’t be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 

 

 

 

           B. Go – tell.

 

                      1. That’s what the Angel tells the women to do – that’s what Jesus tells the women to do – they are to GO and TELL.

 

                      2. They are to go and tell a group of disbelieving men that Jesus IS ALIVE – that he has RISEN, just like he said he would.

 

                      3. And of course, the Disciples’ immediate response is, “O.K. Mary, we know you’ve had a hard time of it.  We wish we could see Jesus too, but we can’t – he died. Why don’t you just have a little rest – you’ll feel better later.”

                      4. In Matthew’s Gospel, they don’t go to the tomb, but do go to Galilee, and there they meet the risen Christ, who gives them his “Great Commission” – which is essentially this: “GO and TELL.”

 

III. You are the Story

 

           A. Each Easter, I search high and low to find just the right story to make the message complete.

 

                      1. But as I looked this year, I found lots of stories, but the good ones I had already used – and others, well, let’s just say you were lucky to get a joke about three men and a river.

 

                      2. But then it came to me YOU are the Easter Story.

 

                      3. YOU are just the right story to make the message complete.

 

                      4. How you live the Easter Message IS the story.

 

                      5. Just like the WOMEN – just like the DISCIPLES – we too are given the same task to GO and TELL.

 

           B. We are to GO and TELL of God’s great love for us as shone in Jesus’ resurrection.

                      1. We are to Go and TELL that when humanity hung God’s great gift of love on a cross as a heretic and a criminal – how did God react?

 

                      2. In love – God took this terrible act and turned it upside down and may everything new, by raising Jesus from the dead – and giving us everlasting life.

                      3. And through his death and resurrection, Jesus opened a new pathway to God – he forged a new relationship with God – a relationship based on love.

                      4. That’s what Easter is all about – that’s what we are to GO and TELL.

 

Conclusion

 

           GO and TELL

 

           Be the Easter story – live the Easter story – love the Easter story.

 

Let Us Pray

 

          Risen Christ,

                                 you go before us and have always gone before us.

                      Born as an infant,

                                 you assumed all our helplessness.

                      Growing into adulthood, you endured the trials

                                 and enjoyed the joys of our lives.

                      Living and working in Galilee,

                                 you learned the frustrations and hungers of human life,

                                 the temptations that entice us,

                                 the splendors that hallow and grace our lives.

                     

                      You have gone before us into death,

                                 and have risen to stand before us in splendor.

                      We thank you and praise you

                                 for love that is one with us in compassion;

                                 for love that goes before us,

                                            opening the way of light and mercy;

                                 for love that stands before us,

                                            pointing the way,

                                            directing our steps

                                            summoning us to follow;

                                 and sending us to GO and TELL.

                      AMEN.                     

           (adapted from 100 Prayers for Celebrating the Liturgical Seasons, p. 109)