|The Day of Pentecost||June 12, 2011||Day of Pentecost||Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23|
|7th Sunday of Easter -Ascension||June 5, 2011||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 1:6-14; I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11|
|Sixth Sunday After Easter||May 29, 2011||Sixth Sunday after Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14: 15-21|
|Fifth Week in Easter||May 22, 2011||5th Sunday in Easter||Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; I Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14|
|Fourth Sunday in Easter||May 15, 2011||Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year A||John 10:1-10|
|Third Sunday of Easter||May 8, 2011||Third Sunday of Easter, Year A||Luke 24:13-35; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23|
|➤Second Sunday in Easter, Year A||May 1, 2011||Second Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday||April 24, 2011||Easter Day, 2011||Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday||April 22, 2011||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011||April 21, 2011||Maundy Thursday||1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011||April 17, 2011||Palm Sunday||Mathew 27|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent – Raising of Lazarus||April 10, 2011||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent||April 3, 2011||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 9:1-41; Psalm 23|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||March 20, 2011||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12: 1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17, Psalm 121|
|First Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2011||March 13, 2011||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:18-25|
Second Sunday in Easter, Year A
Sermon Date:May 1, 2011
Scripture: Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday of Easter, Year A
We are quickly approaching the 175th anniversary of this church.
On May 15th, 1836, Bishop Richard Channing Moore consecrated this building. The Anglican Church, having plummeted in popularity and having lost state support after the Revolutionary War, had begun to make a comeback in the 1800’s.
And so Channing Moore made the first of many trips to Port Royal, to this very church, to do his part to see that it succeeded.
Ralph Fall published Hidden Village in 1981, in which we have the only official written history of this church.
But since 1981, all that has happened here has been recorded as history is in all churches—through Vestry minutes, through photographs that may be in boxes under people’s beds, or more recently hidden in the thousands of pictures people have stored on their computers—
but most of all, just as the history of the early church began, through stories—what we tell one another about ourselves and what other people say about us.
Our history of the past thirty years has been recorded in the way all of recorded history began—through stories, told and retold, stories true and untrue, stories researched and unresearched, stories told about something that happened only yesterday, stories told pulled from the distant reaches of a person’s memory, but finally written down—from the perspective of the writer.
And once a story ends up on paper, or on the Internet, the story takes on a life of its own, frequently without any additional context.
Let me give you a brief example of what I mean. Many of you probably watched the Royal Wedding on Friday, or at least you have seen pictures of it by now—perhaps of the Royal kiss on the balcony and the little bridesmaid, Miss Grace, holding her ears when the crowd roars in approval.
Already, Miss Grace has become a story of her own. All over the internet, her adorable, grumpy little face, complete with hands over the ears, has been photo – shopped into all sorts of photographic situations. A little piece of her history has been frozen in time—and that one moment in her life will be part of what defines her story.
Now for the men in the audience, I’ll give you another example that Ben shared with me from a Presbyterian minister named Mark Roberts.
Mark tells the story of Bill Buckner, a man who has been forever defined by one particular moment in his otherwise successful career as a baseball player.
Mark tells it this way—
“Bill Buckner was one of the better players ever to play the game. In a 22-year career that began with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Buckner collected over 2,700 hits, had a career average of .289, and won a National League batting title. Yet he will always be remembered for one terrible moment in the 1986 World Series
In the ’86 series against the Mets, the Sox took a 3-2 game lead. The sixth game went into extra innings, where the Sox scored two runs in the top of the tenth. Twice in the bottom of the tenth the Sox were one strike away from winning the series. But the Mets were tenacious, fighting back to tie the score at 5-5. With Mookie Wilson at the plate for the Mets and a man on second, Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley was struggling to end the inning. On a 3-2 pitch, Wilson hit an easy little grounder up the first base line towards Bill Buckner. Scoop up the ball, step on first, and the inning would be over. But Buckner didn’t get his glove low enough. The ball rolled through his legs, and the Met runner on second scored. So the Mets tied the series 3-3, and went on to win in the seventh game.
From that fateful moment on, the name "Bill Buckner" has been forever tied to his "slow roller between the legs" error that lost the series for the Sox. In fact I did a bit of Internet surfing to discover that, sure enough, people talk about "pulling a Bill Buckner." It’s synonymous with making a really bad, obvious mistake.”
And so we come to the “star” of this week’s story, the disciple Thomas, who through years and years of having his story told on the second Sunday of Easter, has become known as “Doubting Thomas.”
Never mind that when Jesus decided to return to Judea to raise Lazarus from the dead, and the disciples tried to talk him out of it because they knew his life would be in danger, Thomas is the one who said
“Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Jesus must have appreciated hearing one voice of support reaching out to him through the doubting voices of the other disciples.
But what we remember most about Thomas is this one moment, the hands over the ears moment, the ball through the legs moment, when Thomas made that famous statement.
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
It’s as if in this passage of scripture, like the picture of the royal kiss, one person, Thomas, stands out and gets lifted from the rest of the story, taken out of context, cut and pasted into our lives when we doubt—or to question what everyone else already seems to know is the truth about a particular situation.
And so, I want to stand back from this word photo for a moment—and look at the larger picture to see what we can find, the picture of the disciples gathered in a locked house, full of fear for their lives, huddled together.
Their memory of the horrors of the crucifixion was so powerful that the new picture that Mary Magdalene had just brought them, a picture of Jesus alive in a garden, must have been unbelievable to them.
Fear, doubt, misery, uncertainty, locked doors. And I’m sure the disciples must have also had a sense of betrayal—we gave up three years of our lives for this man. We put our trust in him, assumed he was the Messiah, and now he’s gone.
And then standing in their midst is the person they last saw hanging, dead and bleeding, on a cross, a person they had seen buried in a tomb. Jesus himself.
Jesus—standing right in the middle of their fear and doubt and misery and uncertainty and sense of anger and betrayal—standing there just as calm and relaxed as if he were standing in a garden on a cool spring morning.
Jesus stood there in that hot stuffy room, with its doors shut and locked, looking over the disciples just as a gardener goes out to check on her favorite plants each morning—has that iris opened yet? Have the Shasta daisies popped? Any weeds crop up overnight that need to be pulled?
And Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And then he breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peace in the midst of doubt and fear. The breath of the Holy Spirit filling their lungs and their spirits with new life.
In fact, this photo that we see reminds us of two other pictures we know, lost far back in the very beginning of time, hidden in those boxes of photos under our beds.
At the very beginning of Genesis, and if you were at the Easter vigil you have recently heard this story—
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”
A wind from God, sweeping across the formless void, a wind from God that brings God’s voice with it, and with God’s voice, a new creation!
And then another photo, an ultrasound, if you will—over in Genesis, Chapter 2—
God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
The Holy Spirit, present since the beginning of time, bringing all of creation into existence, giving dust life and breath.
And now, Jesus breathes this same spirit over this sad little bunch of his fearful followers – Breathes new life into them! Breathes life into what will become his church—a new creation—the body of people who will go out to do his work in the world.
No wonder the disciples rejoiced!
Thomas missed the whole thing. And the disciples certainly hadn’t taken in the immensity of what had happened the week before. Jesus had said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And they hadn’t gone out at all. They were still hanging out in that house, with the doors shut. They still didn’t get it.
So Jesus came back. “Peace be with you,” he said.
He speaks directly to Thomas, but I guarantee the others were listening to his every word, because this moment might clear up any lingering doubts they had from the week before.
In fact, Jesus knows that sometimes we need to hear something more than once and with more clarity.
So he says to Thomas—and to them all—
“Do not doubt, but believe.”
And once they look at this man one more time, see for themselves his hands and his side one more time, once they truly believe, once they breathe the Holy Spirit into their lungs, they will finally be able to be sent out, as Jesus has tried to send them a week earlier—sent out to become the church that we read about in Acts, where the Holy Spirit blows through Jerusalem and thousands are baptized, the church that we heard about today in the letter from Peter
The church in which the disciples no longer can see Jesus, but they love him. As the writer of the letter says—
Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy!”
Peace, rejoicing, indescribable and glorious joy! All signs of the presence of Jesus here in our midst.
The end of the gospel today says that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but all of this has been written so that all of us can come to believe that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the Son of God—so that we may have new life, the life of the Holy Spirit, breathed into us.
Many scholars believe that the gospel according to John ended here—
And yet, we have the wonderful 21st chapter of John which follows.
The disciples have left Jerusalem, and they have returned to Galilee, obviously still not sure of what they are to do, and so they do what they know how to do, and they go fishing.
And Jesus comes to them again, and sends them out again—if you love me, feed my lambs, tend my sheep…..
They need to hear it again. And we need that extra snapshot.
And so we gather here in this place each Sunday, as people have gathered for the last 175 years to hear these stories, look at these pictures again—to remember who WE are, and what we are to be about—being the church in the 21st century.
Nothing has been written down about us for the last 30 years. All we have are the stories we tell, the pictures in our minds.
How will we be remembered? As people full of doubt and fear, shut up in fear? Will we be remembered as doubting Thomas? Remembered as holding our hands over our ears?
Maybe we’ll be remembered as a place that just keeps returning to what we’ve always done because that’s what we know how to do.
Or maybe, the next chapter in the history of this church will show in that spite of our fear and doubt and anxiety, we believe
That our Lord and our God is in our midst, breathing new life into us, sending us out, full of peace, full of that indescribable and glorious joy that filled Peter’s church so long ago—
What stories will people tell about us? How will we be remembered?
That answer is up to us.