Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Wounds of Reality on a Resurrected Body - Sermon for Easter 2A, 2017

διὰ τοῦτο ηὐφράνθη ⸂ἡ καρδία μου⸃ καὶ ἠγαλλιάσατο ἡ γλῶσσά μου, ἔτι δὲ καὶ ἡ σάρξ μου κατασκηνώσει ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι· Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall set up it home in hope. - Acts 2:26

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.” 
-John 20:21-22


The disciples in the first century dreamed with Jesus, 

they prayed his prayer, 

they hoped his hopes: 

for a new Reign to come,

for God’s will to be done, 

for the first to become last 

and the lowly to become lifted, 

for all people to be able to eat and to play freely, 

without fear

of violence, of disease, of malnutrition, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because God has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor,” 

Jesus said at the very start of his ministry. He went on,

“God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim the year of the favor of the Lord.”

“Be transformed,” he demanded from the very beginning.  

For God’s Reign is near. 

Joy is coming. Even the trees will clap their hands. 

For a change is gonna come. 


Jesus and his disciples shared this dream, this hope, this desire:

a New Reign ruled by Love. 

But when their messiah was crushed on Good Friday, 

and hung on a tree, 

so were their hopes, so were their desires for God’s Reign.  

On that day, which is pretty much anything but good

they got taught a harsh lesson by those in power: 

Don’t act out, Pilate, the guards, 
[ source ]
and the confessional Christians said, 
Don’t act out, or you’ll get smacked down. 
Don’t act out or you’ll be put in your “place.” 

The place for rebels and zealots, they explained, is the cross. 

Too much living, they confessed, can lead to death. 


So when Jesus was killed, the disciples ran. And they hid. 

They locked the doors and quickly forgot about their dreams. 

They put them back in their bodies, 
and buried them somewhere deep down in a dark corner. 

It doesn’t matter what we want, what we pray for, they said.

Those dreams aren’t realistic. That’s not “reality.”

This is reality! they said, and they pointed to the cross. 

This is reality…


The men commiserated together. 

Behind the locked the doors.


Mary Magdalene didn’t. She went to the tomb. 


There, at the tomb, at the Garden, 

Jesus spoke to her. 

And as he spoke, “Reality” seemed a lot less real to her. 

And Jesus seemed very real. 

He spoke out loud to her heart. 

In the world as it is, 
she felt (in the presence of Jesus) 
the world as it ought to be. 

And to Mary, the Resurrected Jesus became the Way, the Truth, 
the Resurrection and the Life. 

And she remembered all that he had taught: 

Love one another, 

feed the hungry, 

lift the lowly. 

Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. 

And then she remembered the others, and she went to tell them:

I have seen the Lord.

And she began again to pray his prayers.


Mary heard Jesus’ voice and she believed. 


The others, the ten (without Thomas and Judas) believed not because they heard, 

but because they saw Jesus’ scars. 

The ten also did not dream as easily as Mary. 

They did not pray Jesus’ prayer for God’s Reign. 

They prayed only for thicker walls and bigger locks. 

But that’s because they were afraid. 

And, well, wouldn’t we all be in their situation? 

Jesus breathed on them his breath. 

And said “peace be with you.” 


And like the Spirit God breathed into the dust that became the first humans, 

when the disciples received Jesus’ Spirit, 

they to were able once again to breath, and to live.

They prayed again with Jesus and with Mary. 

They prayed that all people might have breath and life and daily bread. 


Thomas was gone of course. 

And when he came back, he did not believe because he heard (like Mary did).

And he didn’t believe because of what he saw 
(like the ten). 

Thomas believed because he touched the scars. 

The wounds. 

The blood. 

Thomas believed because he felt the marks of Reality carved into the Body of Christ.

Thomas believed because he felt the marks of Reality
that Crucified him, 

the marks of Reality that had locked his friends in a room 
for fear of their own families. 

Thomas felt the marks of Reality,

And he felt a new reality:

He touched Reality on a Resurrected Body. 

Death was not final.

The grave had lost its sting.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Thomas embraced God in the flesh.

And he became alive again too. 

And he, like all the others, also began to pray again for God’s Reign. 

They named his prayer “The Lord’s Prayer” and put it in the middle, in the very center of worship, to remind them to never stop hoping. 


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because God has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor,” Jesus said at the start of his missions.  

“God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the favor of the Lord.”

Be transformed! For God’s Reign is near. 

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia! 


“As God has sent me, so I send you.” 
[ source ]
So I send you: 
Feed the hungry, bring good news, share my peace, and set the captives free. 

Dream my dreams. Pray my prayer. 

Hope without ceasing for God’s reign to come among you. 

For the Banquet. For the life of all. 

“For God so loved the world.” And I ask you to do the same. 

Love the world. 

And perhaps it will come—God’s Reign—in you and among you. Perhaps it’s already here, among you already, near by. 


I will be with you always,

even until the end of the age. 

As God sent me, so I send you! 

You are my disciples and my friends, 
in the Love and Power of the Spirit. 

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia! 

May our missions and ministries always bear the fruits of Love.  


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