“Even Those Who Pierced Him ”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the friends of Jesus in the aftermath of his arrest, unjust trial, and execution. The Gospel text this morning tells us that on the evening of the day of the resurrection, they had locked themselves in a house because they were afraid. But I expect that there were a lot more feelings going on than just fear.
Certainly, some of them must have felt some guilt about how it all went down, and some regret for the way they had abandoned and denied Jesus. I have no doubt that there was some confusion in their minds and questions in their hearts. Was Jesus dead or was he alive? Some had seen an empty tomb, but what did that really mean?
But if I was in their place, I also would have been angry. And I probably would have been deflecting my anger at myself by putting the blame on others. I would have been railing against the religious leaders – calling them corrupt, cowardly, and downright evil.
I would have been really critical of Pilate and Herod. They were the ones with the power to stop this, and they … Read more »
1 Peter 1:3-9
“Left Out, Longing Thomas”
This is the Second Sunday of the Season of Easter. If you feel like you didn’t have a chance to fully celebrate Easter last weekend, given that we are in a pandemic lockdown, and gatherings for worship and extended-family meals are not allowed, don’t worry.
Easter is not a single day or a weekend, but it is a whole season! There are seven weeks of Eastertide. Poetically, that’s one more week than the six weeks of Lent. So life, and joy, and celebration win!
And even if we’re still living with staying home and physically distancing through this whole season, we will still have plenty of time to celebrate the resurrection creatively and fully during Eastertide as we watch new life bursting forth in this season of Spring.
I love the way that the author of 1st Peter encourages the churches to whom he is writing to celebrate the grace and goodness of God, even in the midst of their struggles. He invites them to rejoice because God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God has not swept away all our troubles, making our lives perfect and easy, … Read more »
When I sent out my Friday email to the congregational email list this week, I included a rather goofy image of a winking Jesus saying, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” For a couple of days, I couldn’t get that song by the band, “Chumbawamba” to stop repeating in my head: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. Oh, you’re never gonna keep me down…”
It’s both a thoroughly annoying earworm, and a song of hope, and courage, and determination. When I think about Jesus, remembering his arrest, torture, and death, it can be the song of triumph on the third day when he is raised and it becomes clear that love wins, that God wins.
A little song from the Iona Community expresses the same sentiment more gently, but just as joyously: “Goodness is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Vict’ry is ours, vict’ry is ours through him who loved us. Vict’ry is ours, vict’ry is ours through him who loved us.”
These are the kinds of songs that we need to keep running through our minds, … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
“The Benefit of the Doubt”
Poor “Doubting Thomas” seems only to be remembered for this morning’s Gospel story, where he doesn’t come off too well. You see, on Easter Sunday evening, Thomas misses Jesus’ appearance to the other disciples in the locked room, he declares his doubt, and then he receives the benefit of a repeat performance by Jesus eight days later so that Thomas can see for himself and believe.
But this isn’t the first time that Thomas shows up in the Gospel of John. Thomas speaks way back in the eleventh chapter just after Jesus and the disciples get the news that Lazarus has died. Most of the disciples don’t want to go back to Judea where some people had attempted to stone Jesus, but Thomas is willing to go no matter what challenges they may encounter there. Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
A few chapters later, Thomas speaks up again. This time Jesus is explaining that he is going to be killed, but then he will be raised, and he will go ahead of the disciples to the heavenly home that God is preparing for them … Read more »
“The Benefit of the Doubt”
Oh, Thomas! Poor Thomas! He has been permanently labeled a “doubter” by two millennia of history books, sermons, cartoons, and theological writings in the Christian tradition. A cartoon by Joshua Harris has Thomas crying out, “All I’m saying is we don’t call Peter ‘denying Peter.’”
Poor Thomas seems only to be remembered for this morning’s Gospel story in which he misses Jesus’ appearance to the other disciples in the locked room on Easter Sunday evening, declares his doubt, and then receives the benefit of a repeat performance by Jesus eight days later so that Thomas can see for himself and believe.
But this isn’t the first time that Thomas shows up in the Gospel of John. He speaks way back in the eleventh chapter just after Jesus and the disciples get the news that Lazarus has died. Most of the disciples don’t want to go back to Judea where some people had attempted to stone Jesus, but Thomas is willing to go no matter what challenges they may encounter there. Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
A few chapters later, Thomas speaks up again. This time Jesus is explaining that he is … Read more »
“My Father and Your Father”
Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Church rejoice and sing this Easter Day!
Christ is risen! [He is risen indeed!]
We’ve heard the Easter story many times before. It’s told in all the Gospels. It’s repeated in many of the letters of Paul and in the Acts of the Apostles. It’s the story that is the foundation of our faith. It’s the story that gives shape to our life as Christians.
We believe in God. We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. We believe that Jesus was killed on a cross, but that he didn’t stay dead. God raised him on the third day. His body was not stolen. It was raised. We believe that he was the first to be raised, but that all will be raised on the last day. God is more powerful than death. Death is not the end. This is the Good News of Easter, and this is what we believe.
And so, as did the first disciples who witnessed the resurrection, we tell the story. We tell it over and over… Easter after Easter, Sunday after Sunday. After years of preaching, many ministers have admitted that it becomes difficult to find fresh ways of telling … Read more »
“Not the End of the Story”
Welcome to the second Sunday in the Season of Easter. I don’t know about you, but it kind of feels like a low Sunday to me. The church isn’t as full as it was last week, and the energy level and anticipation isn’t quite as high either. Someone said that there was something pretty special about the experience of coming in to church last Sunday. Everyone was so joyful and upbeat. It was definitely a day of celebration as we sang the songs of Easter and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord.
But when the Easter weekend came to an end, many of us went back to the grind of work on Monday or Tuesday. We came face to face with exam time looming, or a house in need of a good Spring cleaning, or the challenges of health issues, or a strained relationship in need of repair, or the stress of tax time and worry about how to make the payments, or just the news from the world this week that some young Canadian men have become terrorists, that there was a shooting in a Gatineau daycare, that all … Read more »
There are stories that get told every year at Knox College (where I went to seminary) about the ghosts that have been seen over the years in the academic wing of the building. People have spotted them numerous times in the chapel, in the classrooms, and especially in the library. One student, who studied at Knox a couple of years before I did, described in great detail the appearance of a ghost who seemed to walk right through her as she stood in the hallway late one night.
According to the stories, library staff have often noted one particular chair which is always pulled out when they arrive in the morning, and a series of books that mysteriously find their way back to that desk. Some say that the ghost must be a doctoral student who died before completing his thesis.
As compelling as some of these stories may be, especially when told with dramatic detail and suspense, when I heard them, I was sceptical. I just don’t believe in ghosts. They don’t fit in with my understanding of the world. People are either alive or they’re dead. And as much as I believe in eternal life, I don’t think it … Read more »
Early on the first day of the week, a friend of Jesus named Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where he had been buried, and discovered that his body was gone. Peter and another disciple went and saw it too. Jesus’ grave clothes were there, but he was gone. Only Mary saw the angels that morning and spoke with Jesus in the garden, but she told the others that she had seen the Lord, that he was raised, and that he was going up to be with God.
The author of John’s Gospel doesn’t tell us what the other disciples thought of her report that morning, but when evening came they were huddled together, scared as could be, all of them in a house with the doors locked. But Jesus will not allow them to hide for long. Neither the locked doors, nor their recent failure to stick by Jesus when he most needed them, will stop Jesus from returning to them, and blessing them, and commissioning them to carry on his work.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” It was a conventional greeting to follow a not-so-conventional entrance. … Read more »
The following presentation of the Easter story was used in an intergenerational worship service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Saskatoon for Easter Sunday, 2007.
Suzy and Harold are puppet characters played by two young adults in our congregation. Amanda is the minister. Suzy and Harold are meant to be young members of the congregation. Suzy is a somewhat “goodie two-shoes” character who has grown up going to church and church school. Harold is a new church-goer and has lots of questions.
The scripture readings from John 20 are interspersed throughout the dialogue. At St. Andrew’s, they were read by children from the Contemporary English Version. The song used throughout the dialogue was sung by the choir and congregation (#254 in the Presbyterian Book of Praise).
The EASTER STORY in Scripture and Song
Amanda: Good morning, and Happy Easter to you all!
Harold: Happy Easter Amanda!
Suzy: Happy Easter everyone!
Amanda: Easter Sunday is a very special day in the church year, because it’s the day that we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Harold: “Resurrection” from the dead?
Suzy: Resurrection means new life, Harold. Jesus died on a cross. He was … Read more »