|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 12, 2015||Pentecost 7, Year B||Ephesians 1:3-14|
|Pentecost 6, Year B||July 5, 2015||Proper 9, Year B||Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Pentecost 5, Year B||June 28, 2015||Proper 8, Year B||Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30|
|Pentecost 4, Year B||June 21, 2015||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B||2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41|
|Pentecost 3, Year B||June 14, 2015||The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6||2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34|
|Pentecost 2, Year B||June 7, 2015||The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5||Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35|
|Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday||May 31, 2015||Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday||Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17|
|Easter 7, Year B||May 17, 2015||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 17:6-19|
|Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B||May 10, 2015||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday||Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32|
|Easter 4, Year B||April 26, 2015||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
|➤Easter 2, Year B||April 12, 2015||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||Acts 4:32-25, Ps 133, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday||April 5, 2015||Easter, Year B||Mark 16:1-8|
|Easter Sunrise service||April 5, 2015||Easter Sunday, Year B||John 20:19-22|
|Good Friday, Year B||April 3, 2015||Good Friday, Year B||John 18:1-19:42|
|Annunciation||March 25, 2015||The Annunciation||Luke 1:26-38|
Easter 2, Year B
Sermon Date:April 12, 2015
Scripture: Acts 4:32-25, Ps 133, John 20:19-31
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday of Easter, Year B
"The Incredulity of Thomas"- Duccio, di Buoninsegna (1308-11)
Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren dwell together in unity!
This unity is the unity within our Trinitarian God. This is the unity that Adam and Eve shared with God in the Garden of Eden.
This is the unity of the early church as described in today’s reading from Acts.
But we all know that unity is not a reality in our world, in our communities, or even within ourselves.
That’s why today’s passages are so useful to us, because they remind us that our job as Christians, in light of the fact that our Lord is risen, is to be witnesses to the resurrection in our world.
And one of the compelling ways we carry out that witness is through our unity with one another.
These readings also point to the major thing that keeps us from being united with God and with one another.
And that is thing is our possessions.
The first commandment says that we will have no other gods before God. We are to love God with our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our might.
In this capitalistic culture, our possessions have taken the place of God in all of our lives in some form or fashion. Possessions tend to take over our hearts, souls and minds in ways that crowd God out of our lives or relegate God to the peripheries of what’s important in our lives.
Possessions can also divide us. Many families have been torn apart after someone’s death in fights over that person’s will. Arguments over who gets the beach house, or the late model Mercedes, or the dog, or whatever the left behind coveted possession happens to be can destroy relationships for a lifetime–
Or the lengths to which people will go to gain possessions at the expense of someone else.
People rob one another, business partners may take advantage of each other or trick one another, someone lies about another person or lies on a resume in order to beat someone else out of a job–we have probably all experienced, at one point or another in our lives, someone doing something at our expense in order to enrich themselves.
And this is not only an individual problem, but also a systemic problem—an obvious example is that of the institution of slavery in this country that benefited some at the expense of many, and contributed to a divisive war that almost tore our country apart for good.
So our possessions and our desire for possessions get in the way of our being united with God and with one another.
When the writer of Acts says that the people of the early church were of one heart and soul, one of the results of that unity was that everything they owned was held in common.
Now before you start running over the list in your mind of all the reasons why you will never live in this way, by handing over everything you own to be held in common and to be distributed by the church, let me explain what I think the value of this passage is for us so that we can glean the wisdom it holds for us.
I contend that this passage reminds us to put God back in place ahead of our possessions, and to act as if we really mean what we say sometimes at the offertory. “All things come from Thee, O Lord, and of your own have we given Thee.”
Our stuff isn’t even ours to start with—it belongs to God, and it’s on loan to us, to use for God’s glory and God’s work in the world. This riveting passage then reminds us how far we’ve strayed when it comes to how we use our possessions first and foremost for our own benefit, and then if something’s left over, we might consider sharing with others.
But there’s another kind of possession that is a great unity –buster.
And that’s when we believe that we possess the truth and that others must see the world our way.
The group ISIS offers a current example of how “possessing the truth” can lead not only to lack of unity in the world, but also mayhem and destruction.
We’ve all seen this idea of possessing the truth tear unity to pieces. Church history itself holds countless examples. Many family feuds come about because each side believes that it is right and that the other side is wrong.
So how should we handle differences of opinion when it comes to possession of the truth?
Every year, good old Doubting Thomas shows up in the gospel reading on the second Sunday after Easter.
So, the other disciples have seen the Lord. They are in possession of the truth. They’ve seen the truth with their own eyes.
So they tell Thomas, who missed Jesus on that evening of the first day of the week that they have seen the Lord. And Thomas says that he needs proof before he’s going to believe this tale.
The gospel says nothing about the other disciples trying to talk Thomas out of his doubt, or ostracizing him for not believing them or taking their word as truth.
There’s no record of them trying to shame him into believing.
They could have said that he was no longer worthy to be one of them and banished him from the group because he didn’t see it their way.
Instead, the writer of John simply says that Thomas and Jesus work it out between themselves when Jesus returns the following week. In fact, Thomas ends up putting into words what the other disciples have simply observed. Thomas is the one who says, “My Lord and my God!”
“Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren dwell together in unity!”
In light of all we’ve heard today, how do WE find this unity?
For me, the answer to this question lies with our Risen Lord when he appears to the frightened disciples in that locked room. “Peace be with you,” he says, not once, but twice.
And then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the breath of life, new life within us. The Holy Spirit, working in us like a mighty wind, re-orders our priorities.
When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the Risen Lord at work in the world around us, we realize that our job is to help the Risen Lord, rather than to believe that we are the ones who will change the world with our version of the truth. Our job is simply to love the one God with all our heart, soul and might, and to reflect God’s glory, love and peace in the world through the ways in which we choose to live our lives and use our possessions.
In the violence, tumult, mayhem and hatred that holds the word in its thrall in our day, the way we can best love God and to make the Risen Lord visible in this world is to breathe God’s peace into our hearts and to become people of peace so that we can breathe God’s life giving peace out into the world and be in unity with one another.
Mother Teresa once said that “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”
But we will never forget that we belong to one another when we remember that all of us belong to God, present in our midst as the Risen Lord and within each of us as the Holy Spirit.
God’s love for us unites us with one another.
“Peace be with you,” Jesus said. “Peace be with you.”
In closing today, we are going to sing a beautiful song about peace that you’ll find in Wonder, Love and Praise. I love it because the bass line is like a beating heart, beating slowly, peacefully, calmly.
And God’s peace fills us with the love and light of Christ, and the joy of Christ, found in the Alleluia verse.
So let’s open our hymn books to WLP 791 and sing this beautiful hymn as we breathe in God’s peace, so that we can leave here and breathe this peace that passes understanding out into the world.
(Sing WLP 791)