Peace be with you!A sermon for the Sunday after Easter Sunday April 24, 2022 by Sebastian Meadows-Helmer
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Ken Davis writes about a woman who looked out of her window and saw her German shepherd shaking the life out of a neighbor's rabbit.
Her family did not get along well with these neighbors,
so this was going to be like a disaster.
She grabbed a broom, pummeled the dog until it dropped the now extremely dead rabbit out of its mouth.
She did not know what else to do.
She grabbed the rabbit, took it inside, gave it a bath, blow dried it to its original fluffiness, combed it until that rabbit was looking good,
snuck into the neighbor's yard,
and propped the rabbit back up in its cage.
An hour later she heard screams coming from next door.
She asked her neighbor, "What's going on?"
"Our rabbit! Our rabbit!" her neighbor cried.
"He died two weeks ago. We buried him, and now he's back!”
From John Ortberg's sermon, "The World's Greatest Step," Menlo Park Presbyterian Church]
In many churches, the Sunday after Easter is termed “Holy Humour Sunday”
and the sermon is peppered with jokes.
We aren’t celebrating Holy Humour Sunday here today,
but the Gospel text we just heard, definitely has some humorous potential,
or at least the ability to give some joy to a depressed,
and fearful band of Jesus followers.
There is enough good news to turn those frowns upside down.
It was the evening of that first Easter Sunday
(that morning, Mary had seen the risen Christ),
and all the disciples were together,
in that locked room, in that house where they were meeting,
a safe house,
so to speak…because nobody wanted to get arrested and crucified.
Sometimes we are in a metaphorical locked room,
just like the disciples,
We are afraid of COVID
We are anxious about upcoming personal events in our lives,
We are scared about the bad news on TV,
or the threats lurking in our neighborhoods,
And so we shut it all out, we lock our doors,
we turn on our alarm systems,
and we try to be safe.
But on that first Easter Evening,
no matter what,
Despite the locked doors,
Notwithstanding the fear of the disciples,
Jesus came and
Jesus stood among them!
Jesus made his presence known.
Jesus comforted them with his presence, in a form that was different,
but still recognizable.
He showed his hands and side,
to prove that he was the same one was crucified just two days prior.
He showed his humanity,
but by virtue of him passing into a locked room,
he also demonstrated his divinity.
He was no longer the same…something was different,
and that was very strange,
but in a happy kind of way.
Jesus asks his disciples to trust him.
But it’s a risk!
This is some uncharted territory they’re in.
Never before has something like this happened!
Sometimes with us, when we’re in the doldrums of despair,
Jesus comes in,
stands with us, and shows us his scars in order to comfort us.
Probably not ever in as frightening and visual a way
as it occurred to the disciples,
but nonetheless, it still happens.
When we are on our knees, and praying: “Jesus, help me!”,
we are asking for Jesus to come to us, show his presence to us, comfort us,
and stand with us in our hour of despair.
Jesus may show us his scars too,
to demonstrate that he knows our pain, and understands our suffering,
And Jesus asks us to trust him, which is a risk of course,
But a risk worth taking, given all he offers.
When Jesus comes to us, like he came to the frightened disciples,
Peace be with you!
Where does this peace come from?
Is it a lazy peace that he offers?
Did he shake hands with the devil, agree to disagree and say peace is the most important, so “please no arguments”?
No, Jesus’ peace comes out of battle, from a place of victory. Jesus destroyed death, vanquished sin and eliminated everything that can separate us from God’s love.
Jesus’ peace that he offers his disciples is a peace that comes from a position of strength — nothing can stand in Jesus’ way now, so there is no need to be afraid.
Religious authorities are no longer scary.
Pain can frighten no longer.
Suffering can frighten no longer.
Death can frighten no longer.
Peace be with you; Jesus offers as victories and risen Saviour.
He performs spiritual CPR though this greeting, a blessing,
a breath of peace that soothes, calms and gathers.
Our victories Jesus gives us his life-giving breath of peace:
I invite you to listen and meditate with me on this wonderful poem titled
“Blessing of Breathing” By Jan Richardson
Maybe at each sentence you can take a breath in and out.
That the first breathwill come without fear.
That the second breathwill come without pain.
The third breath:that it will come without despair.
And the fourth,without anxiety.
That the fifth breathwill come with no bitterness.
That the sixth breathwill come for joy.
Breath seven:that it will come for love.
May the eighth breathcome for freedom.
And the ninth,for delight.
When the tenth breath comes,may it be for usto breathe together,
and the next,and the next,
until our breathingis as one,until our breathingis no more.
—Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
May we rejoice in Jesus’ presence as well.
This Jesus who knows no human limits,
who stops at nothing to be our friend,
To know our pain, to know our joy.
May we come to realize that
Jesus’ peace, which passes all understanding,
Is there “for you and for me and also for all God’s children.”
The peace which transcends all boundaries is there for the sharing and the giving.
I invite you this week to ponder how you can share the peace of Jesus, which he bestows on all his brothers and sisters.
What word of peace can you say to friends, relatives and strangers?
Maybe it’s just a smile, whether beneath a mask, or without a mask,
Maybe just a kind word, a compliment, or a “thank you”.
The peace of the risen and victorious Christ is with you.
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