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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Easter 2A RCL April 27, 2014

Acts 2:14a. 22-32

Psalm 16

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Our lessons this morning are not in chronological order. In our opening reading from the Book of Acts, it is the feast of Pentecost. People are gathered in Jerusalem from all over the known world. It is fifty days after Passover, about fifty days after the first Easter.

Flames of fire dance over the heads of the apostles. The wind of the Spirit blows. And the apostles tell the Good News in all the languages of the world.

Standing with the eleven because Judas has died, Peter preaches about Jesus. He links Jesus with Jewish history and with the reign and promises of the great King David. Peter proclaims that Jesus has been crucified and has risen. At that point, Peter probably thinks that the followers of Jesus will form a sect of Judaism.

Our epistle comes from years later in Peter’s life and ministry. He writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his grace he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

By this time, the new faith has spread all around the Mediterranean Sea, giving hope to people living under the yoke of the Roman Empire, When Peter writes that Jesus has given us “a new birth into a living hope,” he is comforting and strengthening many followers of Jesus who are undergoing persecution.

The followers of Jesus were peacemakers. They did not fight in the Roman army. They were therefore seen as subversives who should be punished and persecuted. They were also noted for the love and care which they showed to each other. An author of the time wrote, “See these Christians, how they love one another.” The promise of a new reality, a new hope, and a new way of living attracted thousands of people to the new faith. The love within each community sustained its members and welcomed new folks to join in the fellowship.

In our gospel, it is the evening of the first Easter. The followers of Jesus are in hiding. They are afraid of the authorities. They have heard that Jesus has risen, but only Mary Magdalene has actually seen the risen Lord.

Jesus walks right through the walls of fear. The first thing he says to them is, “Peace be with you.” Shalom be with you. The vision of shalom, the kingdom of God, where there is peace, where there is love and compassion, everyone has enough to eat and drink; everyone has shelter; basic needs are met; everyone has constructive work to do and the chance to lead a healthy and productive life.

Then Jesus breathes the Spirit of shalom into them and us. That first time, Thomas is not there. He tells the others that he will not be able to believe until he touches the wounds of Jesus.

A week later, Jesus comes again. All Thomas has to do is take one look at Jesus.  Thomas knows that it is the Lord, and that he has come through it all and is here to lead us on a new path. On the spot, Thomas believes.

What does it mean to believe? It is important to keep in mind that belief is not a matter of intellectual assent to a proposition. In other words, when we say we believe, we are not saying, “I believe this on an intellectual level.” Belief involves what Jewish thought calls the heart, but the heart is more than just feeling. The heart is the core of the person, It involves the emotions, and it also involves the mind and the will and the intentions.

Once we see Jesus and we get to spend time with him in loving community the way the early Christians did, it is irresistible. We want to be with him. We want to follow him. We want to live the way he calls us to live, We want to help him build his shalom of peace, healing, and harmony. Other people truly become our brothers and sisters.

Like Thomas, we probably won’t have to touch the wounds of Jesus in a literal sense. We know they are real. We know that he went through all that horror. And we know that he came through it stronger than ever. And that tells us that we can meet challenges. We can endure, and not only endure, but flourish.

This morning, we meet our risen Lord. He breathes the Spirit into us to give us the power to carry out his ministry of reconciliation and to bring in his shalom. He calls us to be peacemakers. He calls us to see every other human being as our brother or sister.

Blessed Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread, in the beauty of your creation, in the faces of our brothers and sisters. Give us grace to help build your shalom.  Amen.

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