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Message for the Second Sunday of Easter

You can hear the message from the Second Sunday of Easter by clicking here.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia.

Put the first reading next to the Gospel for today and there’s an interesting
interplay. In the Gospel, which is probably far more familiar to us, we have Jesus
in the upper room with the disciples and Thomas bringing peace. In the first
reading, is the the result of that peace Jesus brings, suffering dishonor for the sake
of the name of Jesus. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Jesus comes to
bring his disciples, us, peace, and wherever we try to live in that peace, it bring us
the opposite of peace from people around us. Luther would say its the nature of
Christian faith to live in such a paradox. But it’s very difficult and to the world
you’re a chump.

Friday on the radio, there was a story about how the Tennessee legislature
was going to pass an ethics rule to force lawmakers to disclose when a trip they
took was paid for by someone else. The kicker is there is already an ethics rule
that forces them to disclose if a registered lobbyist pays for a trip but not for an
unregistered organization or person. Now wouldn’t you think the that spirit of the
first rule would take care of it? It doesn’t. Instead of bringing transparency to
government and the lawmaking process, it just creates more shadows to hide in.

That’s an example from the world of politics and they’re easy targets. What about
us? Do we live with the kind of transparency that we’re supposed to live in?
And do we have the resulting peace that we’re supposed to have? Why do we
prefer to live in the shadowy chaos of rules than in the daylight of peace?
This is the Sunday after Easter and to show just how strong the echoes of
Easter are, we still have readings from the first Easter, that first Easter evening.

Jesus appeared in the room where the disciples were meeting and said to them,
“Peace be with you.” Now this is extraordinary for a number of reasons: 1. the
bodily risen Jesus made it into a locked room, we know it’s really Him because He
showed them the scars from the nails and spear, and 2. the door was locked
because the disciples were afraid they were sure to suffer the same fate as Jesus.
And Jesus comes and brings them peace in the midst of their fear. But remember
this is no ordinary peace. It’s the kind of peace that will equip them in the future,
as we see in our first reading, to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. That’s a
very different idea of peace than I think we normally deal with.

I don’t know what you did after services last Sunday, but I went home and
had a very peaceful nap. It was a long week. My nap was peaceful. On Monday, I
drove over to Knoxville and after my radio station conked out at the top of the
mountain in Monterey, I didn’t bother to find a new one and the drive was quite
peaceful. Not having to be anywhere specific, not having a big agenda for the day,
that was peaceful, especially after the pace of Holy Week. On Tuesday, I went
fishing. That was peaceful too. Moments of absolute calm. Those are moments of
the kind of physical peace that comes with rest and recreation and reset. Right?

Is Jesus talking about that kind of peace? Yes. He brings peace to the chaos
of the disciples’ fear. But the peace He brings is not limited to that kind of peace.
Remember, God gave the give of a day of physical rest once a week to His people.
It was called Sabbath. It worked for a bit, but people being who people are, they
either worked around it or ignored it entirely and in so doing, ignored a
fundamental part of creation. So, yes, Jesus brings physical peace but He’s
bringing much more.

Jesus comes and brings the peace that comes as a result of His work on the
cross. Have you thought about Holy Week being a week of Jesus’ work much like
the first week of work of creation? Think about it. On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters
Jerusalem as king and spends the week teaching in the temple steps and courtyards.
On the evening of His last day, He establishes the meal of His Body and Blood, is
arrested, tried, convicted, and executed. As the sun sets on the sixth day of the
week, Jesus work of rescuing the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil
was complete. He rested in the grave on the Sabbath. And early on the first day of
the new week, the first day of a new life as a result of His rescuing work, the news
of what He accomplished started to be told.
There is now a peace that comes from being right with God, a peace that
comes not from just being in the presence of God but being in the presence of God
and being welcome in His presence. Think of the kind of open relationship that
Adam and Eve had with God in the garden and we begin to understand the kind of
peace Jesus has restored to us with God. Not only do we know God but we know
the depth of His love for us, that He would even send His Son to the cross that we
might be reconciled to Him. That’s a different aspect of peace than the gentle
passing of the lane dividers and the sound of the road or watching your bobber on
the water. It’s a bigger peace.

Recently, I’m especially attentive to the ways in the which the world tries to
look for and find peace. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices. What was once
on the hippy fringe is now mainstream. These are practices from the East that are
coming into the West because people are looking for peace. What do we call
shopping? Retail therapy? Looking for tranquility? Head to the spa get a facial or
better a massage. I’m not putting any of these things down. I’m simply trying to
say that all of these things in and of themselves can only begin to touch on the
peace that will still the chaos of our our hearts, minds, and souls. An attempt to
find peace apart from Christ is no different from the practice of Sabbath by
following rules. It didn’t work then amongst hyper-pious religionists and it won’t
work today among hyper-hedonists.

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus had promised He would bring peace to
His disciples. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world
gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’” (Jn 14:27)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you
will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)
After His grand work of overcoming the chaos of this world and reordering
creation to a perfect relationship with God on the cross, Jesus rested on the
Sabbath, and on the very next day, the first day of His resurrection, He appeared in
the midst of His disciples and brought them His full and abiding peace. And He
does the same thing among His disciples, among us, today. He stands in our
presence and through the office of the Holy Ministry, proclaims peace to His
people and the world. He declares sins forgiven. He declares the world overcome.
He declares the chaos reordered. He declares it accomplished. Behold His hands
and side. Behold His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins,
for eternal life even now.

Peace to you. Peace not as the world gives. Peace that Jesus won for you.
You have peace with God in Christ Jesus.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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