Sunday, 7 April 2013

From Behind Locked Doors: an Homily with Reference to John 20:19-31 for the Second Sunday in Easter, Year C

Didn’t they know it was Easter? Lenten fasting over. O joy, O joy! Not really. The week had been brutal. Jesus dead. Were they next? Would the ones that got Jesus come after them?

Then there was Mary with her “I have seen the LORD.” But she was so besotted with Jesus and so “emotional”! Not only that, Peter and John were behaving strangely. Just stories. People get stressed and they start imagining things.

No wonder the doors were closed and locked for fear.

Jesus got to them anyway.
19 “Peace be with you.” he said. 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Welcome to Eastertide—fifty days from the great Easter Resurrection Celebration to the Day of Pentecost on May 19th. Mystagogia is the word the ancient church used to describe what the period is for. A time to go deeper into the mysteries of what really happened and what God really did through Jesus, the Cross and the Resurrection.

Jesus started it when he beamed through the locked doors, gave them his peace, showed them his hands and his side.

It’s time to go deeper, Jesus was saying. Again, 21 “Peace be with you.”. And then, go. I am sending you. And he breathed on them and said, 22 “Receive the Holy Spirit. You are to be agents of my forgiveness in the world.

Thomas missed it. When the other disciples told him they had seen The Lord, Thomas said, “Right! Show me.” Eight days later, doors securely locked, Jesus beamed himself in again, wished them peace, and invited Thomas to check him out: touch me, look! Believe! 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Which brings me to us. Like Thomas, we weren’t there either. We didn’t experience the events ourselves—we’re at the other end of history. Many of our doors are closed, if not locked—for fear, fear of what others may think of us if we get into all this too much, or fear that God might really call us to do something we don’t want to do. Fear is a factor for most of us in some way or another—our doors are locked by comfort, routine, not having experienced many, or any, of the supernatural signs we read about; we don’t expect Jesus to beam himself through our doors at church, at home, or any where else any more.

Well, Jesus is here, folks. He’s certainly been beaming through my doors and I’ve been trying to believe and obey, and trying to encourage you to do the same as I’ve prayed for revival and spoken to you about the Holy Spirit Jesus breathed on his disciples. I’ve tried to put more energy into the people Jesus is sending you and me to serve as agents of his forgiveness than into ourselves and our comfortable set up here. I want be a Go-er, not a hider-behind-locked-doors.

The breath of Jesus released the Holy Spirit in those disciples and transformed them. His breath is doing the same for us. This Eastertide we have an opportunity to go deeper, to enter into the Mystagogia, to continue to the process Jesus started behind those locked doors. It starts on Thursday night at 7 in the hall. Ed and Carmen Codding are leading a 5 week, Eastertide, course called “Hearing God’s Voice.” In the Parish Life, “a practical course for..

In their bio, Carmen and Ed describe themselves as just a couple of ordinary people whose lives were changed by an encounter with Jesus in 1991.  Then they discovered that God communicates personally though Scripture which altered their lives again.  As the years went on they realized that God was speaking to them through others, circumstances, dreams and "coincidences", but did not know how to separate ordinary experiences from God experiences.  In 1998 their questions were answered through a series of teachings about "Hearing the Voice of The Lord" by Godspeak International.  Some changes in their lives as He spoke to them were opening their heart and home to the needy, a much earlier retirement than planned and four years on the mission field of Malaysia.  One of their greatest joys is facilitating others to recognize His voice and seeing their joy and surprise as He speaks to them.

The first session is called, ARE YOU QUALIFIED FOR MINISTRY? The answer, of course, is no. None of us are, but think about this: the people Jesus chose to send as his agents and ambassadors, were lacking in faith and weak in prayer, they lacked understanding of some of the basic teachings of Jesus, were stingy, judgmental and mean-spirited, selfishly ambitious and vengeful. They argued, plotted and schemed, doubted, were disloyal and unfaithful. Just like us.

And them, rather than feeling condemned and disqualified they asked Jesus to increase their faith and teach them to pray, they drew near to Him, seeking, questioning, receiving and learning of Him. They decided to enter into the Mystagogia, the deeper things of Jesus and their faith him.

We can do the same, starting this Thursday. Hearing God’s Voice is for everyone: newbies and oldies who need refreshing. Jude and I will be there. There are sign-up sheets up and down the hall.