|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1, Year A||March 1, 2020||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020||February 25, 2020||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Joel 2:1-2, 12-17|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 23, 2020||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2020||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2020||Epiphany 5, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation||February 2, 2020||Presentation of Jesus in the Temple||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2020||Third Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting||January 19, 2020||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting||Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 12, 2020||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 3:13-17|
|Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2020||The Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas 2, Year A||January 5, 2020||Christmas II, Year A||Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84|
|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
Easter 2, Year A
Sermon Date:April 23, 2017
Scripture: Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Liturgy Calendar: Easter 2, Year A
Today I’m going to talk about hope—living hope. We can hope in God because God hopes in us.
Back in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel, before his disciple Judas betrays him, Jesus has washed the disciples’ feet, and they’ve shared the last supper together. Then Jesus spends quite a while talking with the disciples about what is going to happen to him. He tells them that he is going to be leaving them, that he will die, and what all this means for them.
They don’t get it.
Jesus tells them that he is going to prepare a place for them, and that they know the way to the place where he is going.
And Thomas says to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
And Jesus says to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
The next time we hear about Thomas, he is still asking this same question, but in a different way.
Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them, and Thomas wants to see Jesus for himself. Maybe he even wants to ask the same question of Jesus. How CAN we know the way after all that has happened?
So how can I really believe in you?
And so Jesus comes to the disciples again a week later, this time when Thomas is there, and Jesus shows Thomas his hands and his side.
And suddenly, Thomas gets it!
He gets the whole wild thing!
NOW Thomas understands the answer that Jesus gave him when he asked about the way.
“How can we know the way?”
“I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus had told him.
Thomas finally realizes the complete truth of this statement!
Thomas, awestruck no doubt, says to Jesus,
“My Lord, and My God!”
Thomas suddenly knows that he is in the presence of God, the God of creation, Lord of the universe, the God of history, and the God who intimately loves and cares specifically for him, his Lord and his God, standing right in front of him.
The words of Psalm 16 must have blown through Thomas at that moment like the wind of the Holy Spirit.
My Jesus standing right in front of me is my Lord and my God—and this Lord is always before me!
This Lord, my Lord Jesus—is beside me, and takes my hand and keeps me from falling!
I’m so full of joy, I’m so full of hope.
This Lord, my Jesus—you show me the path of life.
This Lord, my Jesus–in your presence, there is fullness of Joy.
This Lord, my Jesus—your scarred hands hold eternal pleasures.
Now Thomas knows where he is going.
Now Thomas knows the way.
The Way, his Lord and his God, is standing right before him.
Peter must have felt this same psalm flow into his heart and mind at Pentecost because he quoted it when he preached so fervently to the crowds in Jerusalem about Jesus.
Peter preached a sermon that gave the people in the crowd the desire to have faith in Jesus as Lord and God,
to have faith like the faith that came upon Thomas that day in the house when Jesus appeared to the disciples again.
And what about us? We are like the people in that crowd in Jerusalem, listening to Peter, because like the people in that crowd, we have not seen Jesus in his resurrected body either.
How then, do we come to believe?
Belief can get tough when life gets hard and we don’t have the luxury of seeing Jesus standing right in front of us, holding out his nail scarred hands.
Peter says in his letter to the Christians in Asia Minor that through God’s resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God has given us new birth into a living hope, even when we are suffering for our faith.
Here’s a visual picture of living hope.
A baby is just learning to walk. The little one stands up unsupported, with some uncertainty, hoping to take a step, and then, slowly but surely, starts wobbling forward, often to encouraging cries and the outstretched hands of a parent.
Come to Mommy! Come to Daddy! Come on! You can do it!
Living hope—an unformed hope in the child’s body that he or she can make it safely to those hands, and living hope on the part of the parent who with hands out, is calling to the baby and cheering the baby on.
And when those first steps are taken, the rejoicing breaks out!
Because the baby and the parents have just received the outcome of the faith that the baby, could indeed, take those first steps.
When we find it hard to believe that Jesus is truly our Lord and our God, today’s scriptures become a treasure that can restore our living hope in God.
Because these scriptures remind us that before any of us ever had a living hope in God, God had a living hope in us.
God has always, in spite of a million disappointments and betrayals and crucifixions, has always had a living hope in you, and in me.
God has a living hope in us—that we will come to know that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, really IS the way, the truth, and the life—and that we’ll live as if we really believe this fact.
God has never lost the living hope that we will have the undying desire to see Jesus, to have the courage to place our hands in his hands, so that he can keep us from falling,
So that he can show us the path of life,
and so that we can have the deep down joy that we can only know in Our Lord’s presence.
God has the living hope that we will finally realize that in God’s hands are the pleasures of eternity.
God has the living hope that we will come to know the wounded hands of Jesus as the healing hands that can touch us and make us new all over again.
So here’s what to remember when you go home today.
God has always had a living hope in us, and always will. God never gives up on us.
That’s why Jesus came to the disciples after his resurrection and said “Peace be with you.” God’s peace is God’s living hope that we too may experience God’s grace and peace.
And Jesus gave the disciples the power of the Holy Spirit, the breath of life that gives us life in God.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and God’s peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, all work together to give us living hope in God, a hope in God’s eternal presence with us, that will at last be complete at the end of time.
Living hope gives us the courage to take our first steps in faith, knowing that Jesus is in front of us with outstretched, nail scarred hands to catch us when we fall.
Living hope helps us hear Jesus calling to us and encouraging us, rejoicing in every step that we decide to take in faith toward him.
Living hope gives us the courage to believe, and believing sustains our hope.
So believe, as Thomas did!
Believe that Our Lord and Our God is the Way and the path of life, and that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy and in God’s hands are pleasures forever more.
And you will be richly blessed.