Archive for April, 2021

John 20:19-31 “Hands and Breath of Peace and Faith”

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSA: John 20:19-31]

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  • Show Me You Hands
  • Breathe On Me Your Peace
  • Help My Unbelief
  • SO, that I have life in Christ!

If you are a card player you know that one of the basic rules is that you never show your hand to the other players so that they do not have an advantage. Part of the strategy is to hold your cards closely. Many people do that with their thoughts and feelings. It is typically a good business idea to wait and see what your customer wants or what your competition is doing.

Before the fearful disciples asked, Jesus, reveals his hands. He shows them the marks of the nails from the cross. He shows them the proof and evidence that the person standing before them is the same person who was crucified and sealed in a tomb three days prior.

What does it mean that Jesus shows us to reveal God’s hand. Not only his physical hands, but he reveals God’s heart, God’s plan, and God’s expectations.

In the midst of their fear, Jesus breathes the breath of peace. One of the best ways to reduce our blood pressure or to deal with a stressful situation is the be attentive to our breathing. Thankful breathing is one of the basic motor skills we do not have to think about all the time, but in our fight or flight times of fear, we breathless or the quality of our breathing is shallow and hurried.

Jesus steps in the room.

  •  Breathes peace into the room and shows his hands.
  • What would it look or feel like if in a time of frustration, anger, fear, doubt, or grief… we had someone interrupt our normal and automated actions and call us to faith and peace?
  • Here are two gifts that Jesus gives to the disciples that we as Resurrection People must give to one another and to the world.

It is clear we are living in this season of fear in our health, fear in political uncertainties, fear of global economies, and in the unknown of what these larger fears make on our family’s security, mobility, happiness, and unity. Part of Jesus’s witness is to become those who speak and breathe the Holy Spirit into our daily lives.

Speaking the Holy Spirit

  • Is a prayer,
  • An invitation,
  • Framing the context,
  • Reminding the faith
  • Singing the chorus
  • Causes us to focus on where we find our strength,

Returning to the pace and rhythm of being in fellowship and union when we know God is present.

Exercise of Breathing:

  1. Inhale for four counts and exhale with five long with the last stretched out.

Blood oxygen measurement… take your pulse before and after,

  • Step it up but slowing down and Adding to the physical shifting intentional breathing, the prayers of request and release.

Breathing are prayers for peace going in

Breathing out and prayers for forgiveness going out

  • Place your hand in someone else and pray and breath aloud, taking turns one speaking and one listening and then swap roles. (Now some have stress about what to say if you don’t know repeat either Jesus Loves Us or Lord have mercy.)

You can show God’s hand by breathing and prayer with someone.

You have seen mothers and fathers in baby deliver classes breathing together and talking through pain and suffering.

Jesus shows his hands… There are appropriate and inappropriate touches, and we are more and less comfortable with touching people we trust or not, but offering to show our hand, is a gift of trust for someone else.

Jesus knows what the disciples need and offers his breath, prayer, hands, and touch. Did you know that the only time some people have positive physical contact with someone else is when they see their family/friends, visit the doctor, AND when they come to church and fellowship?

Even more than praying and breathing it is becoming vulnerable for the world, to find the peace, faith, and relationship we already know.  

Jesus could have come in a said to the disciples I am so disappointed that you are hiding just when I need you to be out bolding sharing the Good News.

He, Instead, comforts the fears, fills them with the Spirit, and THEN calls them to faithfulness. We must be able and willing to reach out as recovering sinners, into a world of sin, and join with others to share the faith, proof, breath, power, word, guidance, and strength that we find in Christ, in the Spirit, for God.

The big picture is that we are living in Christ…

We are living in Christ when we are showing the world and one another the love God in midst of our fears and failures.

Part of the message Jesus is giving to the disciples is handing over the reins of the church, we are now the body of Christ, God’s work is now being entrusted to our hands, our words, our prayers, our breath, our song, our witness because the world continue to run after sin, darkness, greed, fear, power, wealth, and self.

Remember the old VBS song, He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands. Not everyone had taken the offer of our guidance and grace. We are all called to believe and guide one another to trust God to Handle our lives and the universe.

  • Take a breath,
  • Remember the peace
  • And reveal what Christ has shown you by faith
  • That the world might know life in Christ, salvation, love, joy, and peace!

When is the last time you finger painted, played in the dirt, modeled some clay, use your hands to share faith, peace, and the Spirit… that they may come to trust and believe in Jesus Christ.

Remember the challenge to mentor and disciple at least one person this year… now is the time to get your hands dirty.

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What’s Next? Post Lenten Journey

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Read: Genesis 8.6 (NRSV)

We come back to Noah. His first task was to build and fill the ark as an agent of salvation. They endure the forty days and nights of rain on the ark. The second task begins after they get out of the boat. At that moment begins the new work of rebuilding our lives in Christ every day. We are a people who are defined by the Easter message of life and love. It is our message of salvation and our message to share.

Action Plan: Take some action every day to be accountable for building your life in Jesus Christ filled with the Holy Spirit and surrounded by the love of God.

Prayer: God be with us until we meet again. Amen.

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We’ve got work to do!

Now we are alive because Jesus has put fear and death out of business. #gomakedisciples

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Easter Sunday! He Presented Himself Alive

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Read: Acts 1.3 (NRSV)

After the resurrection, Jesus presented himself to them in many ways for forty days. Speaking and teaching about the kingdom of God. Some of us are all like “doubting Thomas” and we are cautious to be the first to believe much less follow. Every step of our journey is different – some are baby steps, and some are giant leaps of faith.

Get to Work! But remember it is the journey of our life that God has died to claim and risen to share. Roll the stone away and let us go together!

Prayer: Thank you for loving me and loving us, loving us all, so very much. Let the joy of Easter shine through us all. Amen.

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John 20:1-18 For Easter 2021

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Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [NRSA: John 20:1-18]

The response of Disciples

  • All we afraid and experiencing grief.
  • Some went focused on the matters of the burial.
  • Some telling unbelievable stories.
  • Some running toward belief
  • Some looking for proof
  • Some not understanding the scriptures.
  • Some returned to their homes.
  • Some weeping and waiting.

the perfect time for salvation is in the moment of being most aware we are broken, unbelieving, afraid, dead, running, seeking, not understanding, at home, hiding, and weeping, for then we were MOST AWARE of our weakness, brokenness, and inability to bring order to the chaos.

What are you doing this Easter?

In celebration of the greatest event of faith in human history since creation itself, what we doing right now?

Most of the world are not gathered to worship and celebrate the Resurrection. Not only because we have not all thawed from the precautions of pandemic, while the world is connected in communications as never before, most are not celebration a living God, with the power to order chaos, fix and redeem all that is broken, heal and restore life to the dead. Billions are devoted to other ideas, faiths, rationalized explanation, or simple apathy and a lack of concern or fear of acknowledging the emptiness they experience in their own world perspectives.

As a nation, we have taken for granted the opportunity of being a nation, that seeks God’s heart and have become an adolescent majority that believe they know more than any God, have answers for every questions without the need for faith, mystery, and believe their own understanding of “Love” can be derived from a self-determined moral ascent of thought for some lowest common denominator of goodness.

My rambling point is that the world continues to settle for emptiness, grief, proof, weeping, waring, and the dismissive returning home in retreat.

The state of the News of Resurrection and Worldview are very similar, then and now. If someone tells you the Post Easter experience is different now, 2000 years after the stone was first rolled away and God’s divine work of restoring a broken creation is so modern, different, and detached… the truth is, we are extremely near to the same response.

Where is the Hope?

The home comes when Jesus speaks to those who are waiting and searching.

The 12 were not at the tomb ready to celebrate and sing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”  They were at home. For those who were willing to search and listen for the voice of witnesses, angels, and the voice of Christ, find the power, truth, and life the risen Lord have given us.

  • For Mary who goes to tell others,
  • For Peter and John who run to see,
  • For Mary who remains to see and hear, Jesus speaks to her, by name,
  • Her response is identifying with Jesus as teacher.

We are the students

  • Students know they have more to learn.
  • Student have respect to know where to seek answers and direction.
  • Students listen, follow, and trust the Teacher’s instruction.

These are what we are modeled this Easter, and every day.

  • Confess we do not know it all,
  • we do not have all the answers,
  • But, We know who to trust
  • We know who to follow,
  • What know what to model,
  • We know we are to also tell, lead, and share with others,
  • We know the world needs what God has done and is doing through Jesus, the Risen Lord!

The simple task for Easter Sunday 2021 is to

  1. Affirm or reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ, risen for us personally, and for the world, the broken sin filled self-absorbed world, and
  2. To Claim the task of being the messengers
  3. Sent and empowered by Christ.
  4. To witness what we have seen, heard,
  5. To share what we believe and trust,
  6. To live the eternal life of love and peace that has been given to us.
  7. Until every knee bow and every tongue join our praise and celebration.

Let’s get busy!!

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Mark 16:1-8 Near Sunrise Easter 2021

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid. [NRSA: MK 16:1-8]

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, 2014

The oldest copies of Mark’s gospel end at this point in the story of Jesus. It is important that we have read all of Mark’s gospel to fully appreciate why the stories stops with fear, instead of joy and celebration. In quick summary, in Mark’s account, Jesus repeatedly tells the disciples to not tell anyone when they experience a divine revealing of God at work.

  • Mark 1:34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.
  • Mark 1:44 and He *said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
  • Mark 3:12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.
  • Mark 5:43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.
  • Mark 7:24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.
  • Mark 7:36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.
  • Mark 8:26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
  • Mark 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
  • Mark 9:9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus expressly order them not to tell anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
  • Mark 9:30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.
  • Mark 11:33 Answering Jesus, they *said, “We do not know.” And Jesus *said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

11 times Jesus said:

  • Don’t speak,
  • say nothing,
  • do not tell,
  • no one is to know,
  • no escape,
  • do not tell anyone,
  • Do not enter,
  • tell no one,
  • do not tell anyone,  
  • he did not want anyone to know,
  • nor will I tell you.

Until the Resurrection:

Until Mark 16, Until Mary stands before him Risen from the Dead

NOW Go Tell! Go tell the Disciples. Go tell the world.

BUT

They said nothing.

The single most significant news to tell the world and once hearing it, they went home filled with terror and fear.

 And they said nothing.

Now we know from history and the fact that we have gathered yet again for as many years as we are old on the anniversary of this morning, but the question of the year is this:

  • Who have you specifically told about news of Jesus’s gift of salvation?
  • Who have told, that has not already heard, about the eternity part of our life that is not over at the point our heart stops beating, our spirit, our soul, the true person that we are will continue to live, just as Jesus is alive.
  • Who have your individually told about the news that even if we have sinned, messed up, screwed up all the plans, God so loves us that Jesus has died for those sins, and has over-come the barrier that seizes the world with fear and terror.

Death has gone out of business because of Easter and the Resurrection, for those who claim the life Christ has died to give us.

More important in 2021, is who will you tell?

  • Who will you tell today?
  • Who will you tell tomorrow,
  • who will you tell as long as you have breathe to tell?
  • This is reason we have gathered, to hear the story once again and to respond to today’s call to GO TELL,

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Risen!

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Day 39 Forty Days More

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Read: Jonah 3.4 (NRSV)

Jonah shows us that God can change an entire city in forty days. God can change an entire nation and God can change just one heart. Wearing sackcloth and ashes on our face reminds us, and the community, of our act of repentance and the inward cleansing of our spirits and clearing the way for the Lord to work through us.

The sackcloth was scratchy and uncomfortable. The ashes were from the sacrifice of burnt offerings. Both were signs of a real change. We hear people say they are sorry or that they have changed. We want to measure the words by a change in the actions that follow.

Action Plan: What might you wear in public that would communicate that you are a work in progress for God? Try it and be ready to explain to those who ask why you are wearing your “ashes and sackcloth.”

Prayer: God help me show the world how you are at work changing my life. Amen.

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Day 38 A Day for Every Year

Read: Ezekiel 4.6 (NRSV)

What is a just punishment for a crime? If it were up to us would we punish someone one day for every year of suffering? This is what God says will be the punishment of the house of Judah. If God can make right in one day what it takes a year to do wrong, then why can’t we try when we feel that there is no point?

You have the power to set people free from guilt, fear, and pain. One day of forgiveness can add years to someone’s life. One day of love can open doors of trust for generations to come. One day of honesty before God can set your heart right for eternity.

There is never a time to say, “there is no use in trying to repair that relationship,” to undo that injustice. And just because it may take forty years to help promote a change in society or one single heart, we should not be discouraged from taking that first step.

Action Plan: Identify a need no matter how great or small in our local community that you have been concerned about. Pray about how God can use you to bring about a change in the matter.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see what I can do every day that will make a difference for you in years to come. Amen.

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