Sermon; Easter 2A; John 20:19-31 (Dcn. Sue)
Alleluia, Christ, is Risen…The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia. Please be seated.
What is the new normal? Could we take a cue from our disciples and call their fear real and ours too? Sans Doubting Thomas or Twin, they are in a locked room wondering what’s next? Will they also be in line for the next crucifixions? As they wonder or panic or just grieve the death of Jesus (they have yet to see him up to this point but have heard he’s risen). They, I’m sure, are talking with one another about this next new normal world they are stepping out of and into this locked room as their call to new life.
Yup, the upside-down world of God changing everything. And then Jesus walks into the room. This is a part of the new normal, Jesus appearing in their locked room. But these disciples are afraid, and although the Gospel writer of John doesn’t explicitly indicate this, there is a bit of disbelief.
Jesus says Peace be with you, a normal greeting, and then he shows his hands and side to them, and then they get it… the scripture says they rejoiced, had joy.
Jesus does like a do-over and says again, Peace be with you… and as everyone in this room realizes, what’s next is the new normal.
Since God has given the Divine glory to Jesus of Nazareth, it is time for the Holy Spirit to guide and lead them. A new normal edict comes next, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Spirit over them, and they are now they are in charge. I suspect they still had those questions.
Send to where, and why, and to what?
Jesus finishes here with the reason to forgive sins and retain sins. Make all things new like: love God, with all your heart mind soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Be in the struggle of the new normal, and I am with you as you navigate this.
This is a new normal…
it is to love…
it is to be generous with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for others...
to see the reconciling action of God who has planned for us from the cross to the rising, the gift of new life.
This is the new opportunity for the disciples to go from learning to love to generously giving love freely.
What is the new normal for us today? What do the COVID-19 virus and today’s Gospel tell us about our new normal? They like us are on the new normal adventure that doesn’t feel like it’s gonna be fun or easy. They, in their mild disbelief, have Jesus walking right up to them, showing his hands and side and even inviting Thomas to touch him to believe.
We sometimes have moments too when we in our normal life, we wander about and cry out “My Lord and my God” when we finally see or sense the presence of God. The challenge is in the seeing. The challenge is realizing the Holy Spirit breathes on us a new way of seeing, every day.
What about our new normal? Could it be we see the real color of the hair on folks? Could our new normal be the hunting and gathering of toilet paper?
Could our new normal be singing songs on our balcony’s? Could our new normal be a buck a gallon for gas? Though I seem to make light of it, there are tragedies every day for folks and their families.
Will there really be enough PPE for essential health care professionals? Will those of us who are the newly unemployed lose our homes or have enough to eat? Will there be enough of anything? These are real questions and only a few of the many to eventually be answered. I wonder if our time is not much different than their time. We are dying, we are grieving, we are imperfect, and we sometimes even doubt. Although we are asked to stay home, rather than lock our doors in fear, we know that the pandemic is a danger to our lives, and to say we are not afraid like those guys in the locked house would be silly.
Today’s Gospel is about Peace, Shalom, a new normal of God’s work in us as broken and doubtful as we are and still be the Divine’s instruments of healing the wounds of despair to showing the pathway to hope. The new normal for us is showing the world the abundance of love even in difficult times. The new normal for us is having the Spirit open our eyes
to compassion for our neighbor;
to forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
You and I are the spiritual healers in this world. Letting the world know the new normal is that Christ died and was raised for all of us.
Cling to this…that God is with us in this struggle.
We are the healers,
somewhat reluctant at times,
and somewhat aloof.
But all of us are guided by the HS and, when intentional or even surprised, will see, taste, hear, smell, or even feel something and hear Thomas’s words, “My Lord and my God.”
In these trying times, Shalom needs to be said again and again.
Our breath steady, our prayers constant. We are the new normal, we are new creations of God, we are the disciples of the risen Christ locked in, but offering hope in this world.