2nd Sunday of Easter Lesson & Meditation

2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER   04-11-2021

EASTER is a season of 50 days, including seven Sundays, that ends on PENTECOST SUNDAY, May 23 in this particular liturgical year. That’s a full 50 days to hear about, to trust in, to live out, and to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In truth, every day of faith in our life’s journey is Easter. In truth, each day the surprise of Easter offers us the peace, the power, and the promise of God’s love.  At our worst points of failure, whenever we feel like giving up, may Jesus Christ keep breaking through our doors, our doubts, our questions so that resurrection is not something that only happened to him! We have a message to hear and a story to tell! The only thing that limits our joy and the grace of God in our lives is our reluctance to believe. BECAUSE HE DIED, YOU ARE EASTER-ALIVE!

FIRST READING:  Acts 4:32-35

After that first Easter season and the birth of the Church on Pentecost, the Christians in Jerusalem are shaped by the Holy Spirit’s presence and power into a sharing community of grace and love, offering radical testimony in word and deed of Christ’s resurrection. While the apostles testified to others about the resurrection of Jesus, the early Christian community shared what they owned or sold their possessions in order to help their fellow believers who were in need.

We should note both their intense sense of responsibility for each other and the real desire to share all that they had. We should recognize that this sharing was not legislated or forced; rather it was spontaneous, it came from their transformed hearts.

As you reflect on this reading, how does it match up with your experience of your present or a former congregation? What are the challenges and the joys of caring and sharing?

You might read Acts 2:42-47, which is another summary of the Church as a community. What qualities of the Church are lifted up by this summary and today’s summary in Acts?

You might also read about Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. Were they required to sell the land and lay all the money at the apostles’ feet? What do you think was their sin? Have you ever tried to “fool” God and how did that work out for you? Have you ever experienced the “fear of the Lord” and how did that change your attitude or your actions?

 

SECOND READING:  1 John 1:1 – 2:2

The author of 1 John is writing to a Christian community that has experienced division in its fellowship (false teachings that led to a splinter group with more “advanced” notions, views that discounted the physical life, the suffering, and the salvation given by Jesus Christ and instead emphasized direct knowledge of and fellowship with God through personal visions and spiritual revelations). To help the Church discern truth from error, both in doctrine and lifestyle, this letter was written.

The opening of this letter sets the tone for all that follows, and it also serves as a reality check. The reality of God is light, but our confessed reality is sin. God cleanses us from our sinful reality through Christ’s death so that we might live in fellowship with God, leave the shadows, and walk in God’s light. We are not saved by some personal “mind trip”… we are saved by Christ’s self-sacrifice, the death of a man, God’s Son, on a cross. And we are surely liars if we wish to claim that we have not sinned. [In his book about himself, former President Donald J. Trump said that he never had to ask God for forgiveness because he never did anything wrong… said that he and God had a “great relationship”.] Jesus here is described as the “atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 2:2). At the cross of Jesus, the sins of humanity meet with forgiveness.

Read 2:1 again. Does the author believe that Christians, after confessing their sins, might fall into sin again?

 

GOSPEL READING:  John 20:19-31

In the Gospel of John it all happened on Sunday.

That first Sunday, “on the first day of the week”, on the same day that Jesus rose from the dead, Mary Magdalene saw that the stone was moved from the tomb; then Simon Peter and “the other disciple” entered the empty tomb and left; then Mary Magdalene experienced the Risen Christ and told the (male) disciples; then Jesus appeared to his fearful and disheartened disciples inside and beyond locked doors, offering them the gift of peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and his mission marching orders. Reassuring them with a love that has been sacrificed on the cross and has triumphed over the grave, Jesus empowers and commissions his disciples as witnesses of his resurrection.

Then there is the next Sunday. The disciples are somehow still in the same room with the doors still locked. Why might they still be there? Are they still afraid? After what they experienced the week before? But don’t we disciples of this time and place know about still being afraid, still feeling inadequate, still hesitant even though we have some Easter faith, we have some Easter joy?

On that second Sunday, Thomas is present. He wasn’t there the first Sunday. Sometimes he gets a bad rap from other Christians throughout the ages – “doubting Thomas” – but he is not demanding extra proof or special proof beyond what the other disciples had experienced… he simply wants the same experience as the rest of his community, to see and to hear, to touch, to receive.

Jesus, very much risen and alive and victorious and real, appears again… and he offers Thomas his hands, his side – and his peace. His words to Thomas are also words to all readers of this gospel throughout the ages: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

What evidence do you sometimes require, what are your conditions for trusting faith and obedient service? The Risen One, who could through the tight-sealed tomb and the locked doors, can also burst through our locked minds and sealed faith!

There are other Easter stories to hear and remember as well, and most are filled with surprise and confusion. Out of the confusion, hope sometimes emerges, and good news is celebrated and boldly spread – around, beyond, here, there, and all the way to us. Out of the confusion, fear and uncertainty sometimes continue, and some are reluctant to believe the message of others and to consider the possibility that Jesus kept his word. RESURRECTION MUST ALWAYS SHOCK US. How will we respond to the story this morning? What will we make of it? Will we allow it to empower our living? In our faith, Jesus is risen, Jesus lives. In our faith, the dead rise! And we, who were dead in our estrangement from God, are reborn and lifted into new life. Every year, we ought to wonder at it: how we always get another chance, according to God’s love and promise. Each day, the surprise of Easter offers us new life. 

Upcoming Events

Jun
19
Wed
2024
10:30 am Whole Foods Distribution
Whole Foods Distribution
Jun 19 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Whole Foods Distribution Use entrance on Briar Rd. to access the lower classroom area. Need more information? Check out this event’s ministry page.
Jun
23
Sun
2024
10:00 am Sunday Worship Service
Sunday Worship Service
Jun 23 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be gathering together for worship service on Zoom using the following information: MEETING ID: 5977365682 MEETING PASSWORD: 204934 You can also join us for...
Jun
30
Sun
2024
10:00 am Sunday Worship Service
Sunday Worship Service
Jun 30 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be gathering together for worship service on Zoom using the following information: MEETING ID: 5977365682 MEETING PASSWORD: 204934 You can also join us for...
Jul
3
Wed
2024
10:30 am Whole Foods Distribution
Whole Foods Distribution
Jul 3 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Whole Foods Distribution Use entrance on Briar Rd. to access the lower classroom area. Need more information? Check out this event’s ministry page.
Jul
5
Fri
2024
8:30 am Senior Food Box Distribution @ St. Peter's Rhoda Hall
Senior Food Box Distribution @ St. Peter's Rhoda Hall
Jul 5 @ 8:30 am – 10:00 am
Check out the Senior Food Program’s page for more information.