April 19: Good Medicine

The following link will provide you with additional information and resources for the whole family for this Sunday, Easter 2: 
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Easter-Week2.pdf

John 20:19-31 (NRSV)

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Good Medicine

To introduce this sermon, I have a quote from the book of Proverbs:
Proverbs 17:22A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
That downcast spirit is plaguing most of us – for we derive our joy out of seeing one another, catching up with one another, looking after one another – that so much of our lives are being social that in moments of quarantine, it makes us reevaluate what’s really important. In fact, as we go into Earth day, and as creation has seized back some of the planet in our absence, the biggest joke has been the fact that the Earth has bounced back much quicker than people have imagined with declining rates of air pollution as people have been forced to change their habits. It is the new life that awaited us when we went home and closed up our doors – even in the midst of being locked away – new life breaks in.
A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and tapped him on the shoulder. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.
For a few moments everything was silent in the cab, and then the still shaking driver said, “I’m sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me.”
The frightened passenger apologized to the driver and said he didn’t realize a mere tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much.
“No, no, I’m sorry,” said the driver. “It’s entirely my fault. Today is my first day driving a cab. I’ve been driving a hearse for the last 25 years.”
The church can do sad very well. In fact the Lenten season is defined by it – it is the preparation of our hearts for the saddest day. Through Lent and Good Friday, we experience the church at its lowest – the struggles of faith in a disconcerting world and the weight of the world on our shoulders – and especially now – we can resonate with the pain and loss of the world this time of quarantine. But joy, we tend to struggle with. As good church goers, we struggle with sharing our joy and laughter because we think it’s unbecoming in church…so maybe it’s good that we’re not at church in our usual way:
A Sunday School teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

One Sunday, a young child was “acting up” during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”
This second Sunday of Easter BUILDS on the good news we celebrated LAST Sunday – Jesus was dead, now alive; the women come to the tomb in despair then leave the tomb in delight. Quite a story. Lots of questions, and very few answers – but as we learned last week, the bottom line, what this season is all about is that CHRIST IS RISEN…and your response…(Alleluia, Hallelujah) Christ is risen, he is risen indeed, hallelujah.
Holy Humor Sunday continues in the celebration. It celebrates the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s ultimate joke on evil and death. It is a testament to the God who, as the Psalmist says in the second chapter, fourth verse, “sits in the heavens and laughs” at the foolishness of humanity and any forces that might seek to thwart divine purposes.
When a young minister was still single, he preached a sermon he entitled, “Rules for Raising Children.” After he got married and had children of his own, he changed the title of the sermon to “Suggestions for Raising Children.” When his children got to be teenagers, he stopped preaching on that subject altogether.
In the gospel reading for today, Thomas isn’t ready to change unless he sees Jesus face to face. And the power in that passage, Jesus’ greeting is over and over again… Peace be with you. Jesus is saying, relax, I know this is weird, I know this is unexpected, I know that you’re scared, but have peace. Peace leads to joy. In our lives, there is so much to be worried about, so much to fret about, but we can still cultivate peace.
Our troubles will be there. Death is still in our lives. But in the face of all that worries us, we can laugh, full of joy, knowing that through Christ, through the resurrection to eternal life – we receive life and joy and happiness evermore! We have enough of it to share with others – because that’s the beautiful thing about joy – it spreads from one person to another. For even though fear is just as infectious, what cures us, what lifts us, what is good medicine to us, is a cheerful hearts, so may you have joy now and always.

Why Balloons Belong in Church (excerpt…) by Ann Weems
I celebrate the times when the church is the Church
When we are Christians
When we are living, loving, contributing God’s children…
I celebrate that He calls us His children even when we are in hiding.
I celebrate love…the moments when the You is more important than the I
I celebrate the perfect love…the cross…the Christ
loving in spite of…
giving without reward
I celebrate the music within a person that must be heard
I celebrate life…that we may live more abundantly…
Where did we get the idea that balloons don’t belong in the church?
Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and Sh-h-h-h-h
And drab and anything will do?
I think it’s blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God’s world.
I think it’s blasphemy not to bring our joy into God’s church.
For God so loved the world

Alternate Worship service with the Moderator, Richard Bott

Here is a link to the Moderator’s order of service:
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/moderators_online_worship_-_order_of_worship_for_april_19_2020.pdf

Here is a link to the Moderator’s reflection for April 19:
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/moderators_online_worship_-_sermon_april_19_2020.pdf

Here is a link to the Moderator’s recorded worship service:
http://d8283b58a5c5a5ba9e82-1683487ed35b79f581a135338259b537.r63.cf2.rackcdn.com/Moderator_Online_Worship_for_Sunday_April_19_2020.mp4

6 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Chris. I loved all of the music – who knew Steve has such a good voice? – and all of the message and all of it! Stay well all of you.
    Wendy

  2. Thanks for such a special sermon Chris…lifted our spirits and made us smile! Something we really need these days. Take care everyone!

  3. David and Susan B

    Such a meaningful service;; Chris, thanks for all the extra work and energy you give so we may worship.

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