Sunday, 23 April 2006

Jesus Appears to His St Barnabas Disciples: A Sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Easter with reference to John 21.19-31 and 1 John 1.1-2.2

On the morning of that first day of the week after the resurrection, when the disciples were together to worship at St Barnabas, in Medicine Hat, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews...

Doors locked? We don't have our actual doors locked, but are there other doors about which we need to be concerned?

What do locked doors do? They keep people out, or keep people in, and they make it so other people can’t get our stuff.

Are the things we do or the way we do them at St Barnabas like locked doors which keep other people out of our fellowship? Are there locked doors that keep us in, inhibit our freedom to worship and grow. Is there anything we’ve locked in that we ought to be sharing with others? Is there anything we’ve locked up that is not ours to keep?

For fear of the Jews. Who or what do we fear? I suspect our biggest fear is being ridiculed for sharing our faith. We fear being thought foolish. We’re afraid we might have to suffer if we unlock our doors and are open about what we believe.

Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them himself in His word read out loud and preached on, in the prayers, in the breaking of bread and in the fellowship.

Some disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. But, sadly, some had ceased to expect to see Him. Some were too uncomfortable or distracted to experience joy because of sinful behaviour they had allowed to become part of their lives or because of pain caused by illness or broken relationships or because they had issues with the way they worshipped at St Barnabas or issues with fellow parishioners. Their spiritual eyes were dulled by sin and darkness.

But, despite that, the apostles' teaching told them that,
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1.5-2.2)
Which brought them back to Jesus who said, again, "Peace be with you! And, week after week as they gathered, Jesus continued to meet them and offered them peace as they repented of their sins, believed in Him and broke bread together.

Then Jesus said, "as the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
Each of us has a mission in life. Jesus prays to his Father for his followers, saying: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

We seldom realise fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we have to choose how, where, and with whom to live. We act as if we were simply plopped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do. (Being Sent Into the World Henri Nouwen’s meditation for today)
Now some of the St Barnabas disciples struggled with doubt, and when they heard the stories of the disciples who said, "We have seen the Lord!" Like Thomas, they said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, unless I see evidence with my own eyes, unless I see miracles, I will not believe it."

Some of them also said, I prayed that someone I loved would be healed once and it didn’t happen, so I will not believe it.

A week later his disciples were at St Barnabas to worship again… Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

Then he said to to doubters and the strugglers, "Listen to my Word, join in the prayers, eat the bread, drink the wine, enjoy the fellowship. Stop doubting and believe."

And some of them realized that they could choose to stop doubting if they wanted to. So, like Thomas they were able to say, in faith, to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told them, … blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his St Barnabas disciples which are not recorded in this or any other book. But these are written, and the St Barnabas experiences happened, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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