it was evening
on the first day of the week..
that means the day after the Sabbath
the day when everyone could resume to normality..
But for these disciples
who have been through a week of such trauma and change
what is normality
they have had their feet washed by Jesus
they have been told they are to be servants of others
One of their group
One of their friends has betrayed Jesus
and don't forget..
Judas has betrayed each of those who ate the last meal with Jesus
All but one of the men had slowly abandoned each other and Jesus
Jesus had been tortured in ways which we can still only imagine
but the graphic press of today brings us nearer to understanding the horror of Good Friday..
Peter has denied Jesus three times as predicted
Mary has met the angels and spoken with Jesus
Mary the first evangelist
told not to hold on to Jesus as he had been
the familiar Jesus
whom she had followed and loved
Mary was not allowed to know him in that way any more
but was to know him as the risen Christ
the one whose story she must tell again and again..
Mary was not allowed to hold on to what she wanted..
So after all of that here we are
we meet the disciples as they are locked away….. LOCKED AWAY
they weren't at peace to sit and eat
they were still fearful
they were still reeling reeling from all of the changes
all of the loss
all of the confusion..
And suddenly here we have Jesus standing among them.
He didn't open a door
he didn't make a grand entrance
those whom he called his friends
and said “Peace be with you..”
I know we hear that a lot
But peace… peace.. after all they had and were experiencing
Yet the memories of John as he speaks of Jesus are indeed calm, very matter of fact
"After he said this.. he showed them his hands and his side..
I imagine it wasn't as succinct as that..
I imagine it was a lot more subtle..
but the way the statement is written brings stability to the reality to all they have lived through..
We who are reading these words all of these years later
can reduce the effect of Jesus just appearing among the disciples, wishing them peace,
and then showing the wounds of his death... to a statement ..
not the life changing moment it must have been
Similar to what we read last week in the garden
where the stone was rolled away and Mary recognised Jesus
who responded to Mary with the words “don't hold on to me Mary..”
It seems the familiarity is there… but things have shifted
"don't hold on to me Mary "
I believe in those there simple words
Jesus is saying
“hey… its going to be ok.. I've got this."
It wont ever be as as it has been but it is going to be ok..
And part of "its" going to be ok..
means you are going to be ok
ok does not mean perfect
it means “I have this“
And “have it he does”
As Jesus breathes into each of their beings the Holy Spirit
and as he does, he equips the disciples for the future of all they are to do
for all they are to do without the physical presence of Jesus..
It seems Jesus does indeed “have this”
things sounds sorted don't they?
“ it “ sounds ok..
But then we have Thomas
Thomas remembered for his doubting
and not knowing the way to the Father’s house
when Jesus said he was preparing a place for each of us
Yet amid that sorted
amid the “I’ve got it”
“ I’ve got you”
“the ok ness “
the peace that Jesus offers to us
The echoes of the voice of Thomas
is the voice of many of us today
Thomas reminds me of Victor Meldrew..
Famous for saying I DONT BELIEVE IT..
and not understanding situations and circumstances.
How many of us are like Thomas... ?
I don't believe it..?
I don't know the way to how we are going to sort things out.
I don't understand how we got here
I certainly don't understand where we are going.
Well …..lets look at those words
I don’t believe it..
How many of us find so much of our present experience unbelievable?
America… North Korea… Russia
Another National Election
right down to the 2030 vision of Ripon Episcopal Area..
How many of us want to turn back the clock?
hold on to what we understand?
hold on to what we like?
How many of us want to hold on to what we have?
How many of us haven't got a clue what on earth is happening.. ?
How many of us haven't got a clue how we are going to get to 2030?
Many of us are at some stage or another
are like Victor Meldew
like Thomas …
Remember Peter was one of those who denied Jesus
he even got upset and frustrated when he thought Jesus didn't understand he was saying sorry
Yet here we have Peter speaking in the book of Acts
The Acts of the Apostles..
brave Peter empowered by the Holy Spirit, standing with the other disciples
and addressing the people of Judea and Jerusalem..
Peter.. The one who denied Jesus three times
is today the one stood in front of the Jewish people
and sharing the Good News
Peter is stood among those who could have been the ones calling for the death of Jesus
Yet empowered by The Holy Spirit... Peter is giving his testimony
This man who denied Jesus is changed, he is not holding on to the things of the past
He recognises the future, the future of telling the stories of Jesus
Sharing his experiences and sharing the theology behind those experiences..
Showing the promise of God that one day he would put a descendent of King David on the throne of Israel..
Showing that King David himself had told stories of Jesus saying that death would not hold him
Hell was not his captive nor would his body degrade
Peter is doing theology through sharing the story of his life with Jesus and his life as a Jew .
Peter is no longer confused..
Because finally understands that nothing can be the same
Peter finally understands
that no matter how many times we doubt Jesus
no matter how many times we struggle to understand
Our Lord Jesus
breathes afresh his Holy Spirit within us
as he forgives
as he restores
and enables each of us…
even when we don't understand the situations we are in..
So my questions today is are you able to let go of what is familiar
Are you able to let God guide you?
Are you able to share your stories of faith with others?
Some of doing that is dangerous.
some of it is hard work.
WHY? because it is hard work for us to let go
let go of what we are familiar with
it is dangerous to trust God
and let our Lord breath his spirit of life into us
because we then become empowered by his will
his authority and not our own…
Remember last week Peter really did not understand
that Jesus was sending him to share the story of his life
his time with Jesus ….
his time of not understanding
telling his testimony to the Gentiles..
that was dangerous
doing something new
sharing food and housing with gentiles
is risky in the eyes of the Jewish people..
Peter must have very clear memories of what happened to Jesus…
What I am hearing today in our readings is something we have known for a while
it’s something we may not want to do
because its dangerous
But the “IT”
"It "means we have to let go of all we have held on to in the past
and let our Lord guide us into our future.
The process will be difficult, just as the process for the disciples was difficult
because when we let our Lord guide we are sent into situations, not of our choosing, but of our Lord
Trust is hard work, as can be sharing our stories
because we leave ourselves open to questions, to being unsure as to where we are going, except to know that where we are going, we do so with the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
And that again takes us back
back to the disciples on the first day of the week, hidden away, afraid, because as Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them, not as a perfunctory exercise. Jesus as he breathed was empowering them to forgive others as he forgives us..
Jesus was empowering them to share the stories, write them down, share them verbally share the Good News..
And today Jesus empowers too,
he will empower us to believe and share the stories, so that we and others may believe and have life, life in abundance, in the name of Jesus.. Jesus who calls each of us his friend