Another guest post from my husband…
Acts 2:14a,36-41: 14 ¶ But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd,…………….. 22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
John 20.19-end: 19 ¶ When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 ¶ A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
While I was seeking inspiration for this sermon the news was full of only one thing; the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The wedding was on every channel and dominated every newspaper.
It was like the world cup in reverse. All the women were glued to the tv. Admiring the dress, the finery and soaking up the romance. And the men were wondering around looking lost and aimless.
There were men fishing on the beach, with a few cans, that didn’t look as though they had gone fishing for quite some time. It can’t have been the weather – the sea breeze was cold despite the sun.
But the humour aside. I may not get excited about a wedding dress but I do wish the royal couple a long and happy marriage. What is important, isn’t so much the beautiful day but the days and months and years that follow.
I have prepared so many couples for marriage and sadly, for some it is all about the big day. And I mean ALL about the BIG DAY!
I have had one couple that split up at the reception and another on their honeymoon! Thankfully, those are extremes.
And I know of plenty of others that are strong to this day. It is wonderful when you marry a couple then baptise their children. Then, later, see those children at the local school. I have not had the privilege of preparing any of these children for marriage but I hope and pray that these couples will remain a stable foundation for their families to the end of their lives – just as they promised on their wedding day.
This is what I prayed for on Friday. That the joy of the day will be distilled into a lifelong commitment, through good and bad. Then I went to see if I could find my fishing rod! Well, in my case my bike keys!
A lifelong commitment through good and bad is what we are called to in Christ. Those first disciples had gone through so much and they would have to endure more in the years to come. They were faithful to Jesus, their friend and king.
But that doesn’t mean that it was easy for them. Thomas doubted from the beginning. Peter had already denied Jesus and the others had run away.
So when I doubt, when you doubt, that doesn’t mean that all is lost. It just means that we are human. It also means that the faith we have may be real and not a fantasy. Real faith is questioned and tested.
Now for us the dust of Easter has settled and we now learn again to live the Easter life. We continue our life as part of Christ’s bride the Church. Amid all the finery and pageant of Easter we made or reaffirmed our baptism promises. Our marriage vows to Christ.
You will be different from the time when you first made your baptism vows. You and I change and grow every day of our lives. Life’s experiences change us and we grow.
Christ continues to love us as we change, no matter what that change is.
Our task is to trust that love and try and learn to love Christ back whatever the world does to us. Whatever our doubts and failings. Christ does not turn away, even if you or I abandon him.
I may fail to keep my promises to Christ, so might you. We may be unfaithful but Christ is not. Christ, through the Spirit living in us, faithfully seeks to work in us – to make us good, and holy, and content: To make us whole and complete in Him.
Jesus says to you, “Peace be with you”. Jesus breathes on you saying “Receive the Holy spirit”.
Like the royal wedding, the pageant of Easter is over and now the hard work and the real joy begins.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.