Sermons That Work

The Mystery and Miracle…, Easter 3 (B) – 2006

April 30, 2006

The mystery and miracle of Jesus’ resurrection is as fresh in our minds as it was for the apostles. Together we have witnessed the events that were both necessary and inevitable for the fulfillment of God’s redeeming love. As children of God our Creator, made in the image of God our Creator, we are filled with wonder and blessing at the awesome reality of our being. We know this to be true in our deepest parts, at the core of our being. And yet, we are challenged to live as children of God. We struggle with living up to the seemingly awesome task. Is it as complicated as we make it? What I mean is that everything we need to live like children of God is knit into our very fabric, even though it is not always evident to us or by our actions.

Peter, who once denied knowing Jesus, is witness to the healing power of the resurrection. His witness prevents those who had rejected Jesus from being able to imagine anything other than Christ’s life-giving, healing power in the resurrection. The evidence of his own transformation is clearly understood by his compassionate response to those who may have persecuted Jesus; Peter tells them that it could have only been done in ignorance. Who could know this better than he?

What we know about Peter is as incredibly convicting today as it must have been for the early Christians who knew Peter, especially the disciples. He walked with Jesus, one of his “chosen” apostles, and yet he was able to deny even knowing Jesus for fear that he might lose his own life. Yet, it was the fulfillment in Jesus resurrected that Peter truly believed.

Through the different accounts of the disciples realizing Jesus’ presence in the upper room — without Thomas, then with Thomas present, and then again on the road to Emmaus — we understand how they came to believe. Their witness to these events was written down so that we might believe in and witness to the incredible gift in Jesus — and in our own lives as God’s children –without the need to see for ourselves. The Gospel is the only evidence that we need. It provides a foundation for our faith. It holds the mystery of faith and prompts us to search out our understanding of God’s great creation.

What does it mean for us to live as children of God, knowing that we have been made in God’s image? The gift of our being does not always match up to the way we live, and we are not always willing to bear witness to Jesus’ death and resurrection. What keeps us from sharing what we believe with everyone we meet? After all, aren’t they made from the same fabric in God’s image? Maybe we fit into the lukewarm category and are not convinced, let alone passionate enough to share what we believe. Maybe it is hard for us to look at our neighbor and allow ourselves to imagine that they are made from the same fabric, in the same image as our Creator.

We are living at a time when it is critical to live according to the two greatest commandments: to love our Creator God and to love one another. The Episcopal Church is entering a time of transition, which always includes some fear and anxiety. This transition will affect us all in our corporate relationships within the church and in the world. Make no mistake: treating each person as a brother and sister in Christ now will create the sacred space where the Holy Spirit’s presence can be seen and felt. In this way, we have an opportunity to experience the risen Christ standing among us and live as children of God.

The communion hymn “Taste and See” reminds us that coming to the table nourishes our bodies, minds, and spirits so we might be ready to live as children of God. We are drawn into close relationship with Jesus and each other when we share the bread and wine at the table. Engaging in the words of Scripture draws our attention to God our Creator and the incredible gift of Creation. Let us find passion for our faith so that we might share it with everyone we encounter in words and actions. And when we are uncertain, let us pray that we will recognize Jesus there at our side.

The Collect for today sums this up. “O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.”

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Christopher Sikkema


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