John 20:19-23 • April 15, 2012
The Fuse of Resurrection: Fear Behind Locked Doors or Mission in the World
Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and our risen Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.
One of my favorite holidays is the 4th of July. You see, I’m a bit of a pyrotechnic. Granted I do enjoy other parts of the 4th of July – being with family and barbeques and parades, but I think I enjoy something else just a little bit more. I like fireworks. I like watching them and I like shooting them off. Since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed fireworks and the anticipation about what they will look like or how they will sound or how high they will fly.
My fascination with fireworks is just one unique part of who I am as a child of God. There’s just something about lighting the fuse, getting out of the way and anticipating what will happen. Or occasionally what won’t happen, because sometimes nothing happens. Times when the fuse doesn’t work or the firecracker is a dud.
So here we are – the first Sunday of Easter. One week after Christian churches around the world were filled to capacity, or in the case of Good Shepherd, filled WAY beyond capacity a few times for grand and glorious worship celebrations of the risen Christ. Easter is a day of worship that is the most magnificent display of the Christian church’s fireworks. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God defeating and conquering death and all that darkens this world – forever.
I know I’m still feeling a little worn out after another year’s journey through Lent and Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship. I’m not even sure if I’m still as excited as I was last week. A question that I’ve been asking myself, is whether the magnificent display of Easter Sunday is still with me today, just one week later?
I mean, is that really all there is? Or, did I miss something? Is the excitement of the fuse that was lit in the resurrection 2,000 year ago still with me? Is it still with you?
In our gospel reading today, the disciples are huddled somewhere – the Greek text doesn’t say that it’s in a “house” like our English translation offers. Let’s not get stuck in a biblical Greek lesson today. What the text does offer us is that the disciples are somewhere, locked behind closed doors, and afraid. They don’t know that the resurrection has occurred. All they know is that Jesus has been crucified and there is a pretty good chance that they will be next in line if anyone finds them.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, take note as to what happens right smack dab in the middle of the disciples fear behind locked doors, behind uncertainty for their very lives, behind a fuse of change in the world that Jesus had lit; a fuse that they think has been extinguished forever in the death of Jesus on the cross.
In the disciples’ moment of fear and darkness and hopelessness, Jesus enters with a greeting of comfort and a message of unimaginable hope, “Peace be with you.” Jesus comes to the disciples, and to you and me, and shows us that what has happened is not the end. It’s just the beginning. And to help us understand what is happening, Jesus offers a second greeting, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
In Jesus life and ministry, a fuse that will change the world forever has been lit. In Jesus’ resurrection, this fuse of change in the world is set free. And this is not a fuse from a dead firecracker – a dead man hanging on a cross. The resurrection ignites all of us as children of God to be active participants in the most spectacular display of God’s love for all creation that the world will ever know.
A dear colleague of mine recently said that, “Easter Sunday is the only way she knows how to both deal with and be honest about all the Maundy Thursdays, Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays in her life. Christ has risen makes all the difference in the world for her.”
Whether you worshiped on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday is not the point I want you to hear. The point I want you to hear is that if you and I are waiting until the dark days in our life stop or until we have everything in perfect order before we get started as resurrection people in the world, you and I will never begin. We’ll never get beyond the locked doors that we hide behind in fear.
The resurrection isn’t trying to force us to church once a year. The resurrection enters us into a relationship with God through the risen Jesus Christ. A relationship that challenges us to live together united in community. A relationship that allows us to joyfully seek out and serve our neighbors in need; like Good Shepherd did this past Thursday evening by serving a meal with The Banquet ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bismarck. A relationship that empowers us to lift up brothers and sisters in Christ that we will never meet like we’re doing in the Central African Republic through congregations just like ours across the western North Dakota synod.
Pastor Thomas Long wrote, “John’s gospel gives us a snapshot of a church with nothing – no plan, no promise, no program, no perky youth ministry, no powerful preaching, no parking lot, nothing. In fact, when all is said and done, this terrified little band (Jesus’ first disciples) huddled in the corner of a room with a chair braced against the door has only one thing going for it: the risen Christ. And that seems to be the main point of this story.” Long continues his thought with this, “In the final analysis, this is a story about how the risen Christ pushed open the bolted door of a church with nothing, how the risen Christ enters the fearful chambers of every church and fills the place with his own life.” [Whispering the Lyrics, Thomas Long, CSS Publishing]
The risen Jesus Christ has filled this place that we know as Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and the entire world for that matter, with his own life. It’s the most magnificent and glorious gift, relationship, and calling that humanity has ever received. And you and I are part of that.
As you leave today, I hope you take note of the signs near every exit of this church. And I hope those words from the risen Jesus Christ guide you in your journey as people of the resurrection this week.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the fuse of resurrection has been lit. Let’s not stay behind locked doors. Let’s go from this place and share the good news of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.