Sermon Easter 2
Alleluia! Christ is Risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator and our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today we celebrate the second Sunday in the season of Easter. Easter is such a glorious season that the church celebrates it for 50 days, that is seven weeks, a week of weeks.
Last week was the big celebration. Jesus broke out of the tomb of death. He busted out. He escaped from the prison of death. It was a time of great celebration for us. We sang the alleluias. We waved the ribbons. We smelled the beautiful spring flowers. We heard this wonderful fountain.
It was the celebration of the event that happened once for all eternity. Jesus broke free from the prison of death. He came out of the tomb.
It was a great celebration for us. But, on that first Easter, we didn’t hear much about the disciples celebrating. They were huddled together in a locked room. At first, they didn’t believe Jesus was alive. They thought the women were delusional.
Most of them came around after Peter told them he had seen the empty tomb. Did they celebrate and go tell everyone what had happened? Nope. They stayed locked up in a room together.
They were afraid to go out. Resurrection stories are great, but the disciples were still afraid of being arrested and crucified themselves. They were not going to risk their lives. They were scared.
Have you ever been afraid to open your door or to go outside? Maybe it was the first time you stayed home alone. Maybe there were warnings about a criminal on the loose. Maybe you just watched a scary movie. Maybe you were visiting a strange city and feared getting lost.
I had a regular babysitting job, for a couple from my church, when I was in high school. They had two sweet little girls. One Friday night they went to the movies. While they were gone there was a thunder storm.
I don’t mind storms as long as I am inside, warm and dry, so I wasn’t afraid. The girls were sleeping soundly. The power went out, so I lit a couple of candles and tried to read my book by candle light.
The storm was over when parents came home and the wife commented on how sweet it was I lit the candles. I said, “Your power went out,” and she screamed and ran to check on the children.
She totally freaked out. Her husband started laughing because they had just seen one of those scary movies where the axe murderer cuts the power lines and phone line before he breaks into your house.
I think that is how the disciples must have been feeling. They were scared enough to lock themselves into their own kind of prison.
Last week, Jesus broke out of the prison of his tomb. This week, he broke right into this locked room full of scared disciples. This week, he opened their self-imposed prison of fear and set them free.
He set them free by giving them his peace. He breathed the Holy Spirit into them the same way that our Creator God breathed the breath of life into Adam, our first parent. Adam means creature who comes from the earth, or earthling. The breath that God gave Adam is the same breath that gives us life.
We know we are alive because we can breathe, we have God’s breath. We know we live because of the God who gives us life. The peace Jesus gives, is the breath of our Creator God, the very Holy Spirit of God.
Jesus came to the disciples that Sunday and brought them God’s peace. The peace of God is the only thing that takes away fear.
What are the things that make you lock yourself away in fear? What things keep you from doing the work God calls you to do? Think about that this week. Only you will know the answers. Whenever you can feel the fear, breathe deeply and ask God for peace.
Jesus came to the disciples and broke them out of their self-imposed prison of fear. Then He showed them what resurrected living looks like. It turns out that resurrected living looks like forgiveness.
Jesus gave the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. Forgiveness is a great power and a great freedom. When we refuse to forgive someone, we give them freedom over us. We give them the freedom to make us feel bad, sad, and mad. We give them the freedom to dominate our thoughts. We give them the freedom to control our behavior. We give them the freedom to make us fearful, to make us lock ourselves away from others.
When we forgive someone, we give up the idea that we can change the past. When we forgive, we have the freedom to love again. We have the freedom to remember the good parts of the relationship. We have the freedom to think well of the person who hurt us and look at their behavior in the best possible light. We have the freedom to hope for the future.
When Jesus went to see the disciples in that locked room that Sunday, Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus came back, the next Sunday, and shared his peace with the disciples again. Thomas was included this time.
Jesus is like that. He doesn’t want anyone to be left out. He comes to see the disciples again, and gives Thomas what he needs, so that he will believe.
Jesus keeps coming back, every week. Every Sunday since the resurrection, he comes to see the disciples. Every Sunday, he breaks the disciples out of their self-imposed prison of fear. Every Sunday, he gives the Holy Spirit, and the gift of forgiveness.
He comes to us here every Sunday. He is present as he promised he would be whenever two or more of us are praying in his name. He is present with us when we hear the scriptures read. He is present with us when we share the sacrament of his body and blood, the very sacrament that promises the forgiveness of our sins.
Every Sunday, Jesus gives all the disciples freedom from their self-imposed prison of fear. He keeps coming back. He doesn’t want anyone to be left out. He gives us the Holy Spirit and the power of forgiveness so that we can share that good news of forgiveness with the whole world.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia.