Readings for 2nd Sunday of Easter, 4/7/13:
Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31
- The compact gospel message given by Peter. It's interesting how quickly the work of the disciples shifts from the teachings of Jesus about how to live and love the neighbor to an almost complete emphasis on Jesus and his resurrection with a seeming lack of talk about what Jesus taught. I think that's still where the church get's stuck today!
- "We must obey God rather than any human authority." Do we believe this? It gets tricky when different people claim God telling them conflicting things. Just heard about a woman who stoned her sons to death because "The Lord told me to." On the other hand, I think of gay and lesbian folks who have been called by God and have to act against church law in order to claim their place as pastors. How do we judge who is acting on God's authority and who is abusing God's authority?
- A popular psalm for its lively message of praise! Often set to music.
- It strike me that this would be a great text for children's time - to actually bring in the instruments - the trumpet, a harp, a tambourine, cymbals, etc. Have people play them or let the kids try them out if possible.
- "Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!" That's all creation - not just us humans. I like the holistic world view implied in that!
- People have a fascination with the "End Times." I took a class at Drew during seminary on Revelation with Dr. Stephen Moore. Everything, while still over my head sometimes, made more sense after learning much more about the context in which Revelation was written. Learning that, I could finally let the text speak to me in meaningful ways! Anyway...
- "I am the Alpha and the Omega" - Unfortunately I have read this text too many times recently, at the funerals of dear church members. But there is comfort in knowing that our beginning and our ending and everything before, after, and in between, is with God, in God, of God.
- "Look, He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him." Human nature wants to make sure people pay and get what they deserve, right? All while being convinced that we deserve better than they do! Here is Jesus returning, and the biggest concern is that the bad guys get what's coming to them. Where is the joy at being with Christ?
- Ah, doubting Thomas. Most of us are less excited than I am to think of ourselves as being like Judas, but doubting Thomas we can relate to all too well. Who wouldn't want to see for himself, when everyone else had the benefit of seeing the risen Christ up close and personal?
- "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Maybe today it is harder for us to take things on faith because we are so good at finding tangible - or at least scientific - proof for so many things. We can prove so much with our God-given minds - why not prove God? Prove Jesus? What do you believe without proof? Can you prove someone's love for you or yours for them? We try, but in the end, we just must trust.
- John is obviously concerned with verifying the physical nature of Jesus' resurrection by having Thomas touch and feel Jesus, see the wounds. To me, as I mention in the Acts passage, I think the life of Jesus gets ignored in our obsession with his death and resurrection. Obviously, his death and resurrection are important to us - but would they be important if he had taught nothing in his life? If he had not been in such radical ministry for three years? So, John wants us to know Jesus' resurrection is the real deal. That's fine by me - but the statements about belief are more powerful in this passage, I think. More challenging.