Monday, April 24, 2017

Easter 2A

Easter is 50 days

Easter is 50 days, 7x7, a weeks of weeks; "7" is the number of perfection in Hebrew numerology. The day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter. The prefix "pent" means 50: pentagram, pentagon, etc.

Day of Resurrection is:

• 1st day of the week, day after the Sabbath, therefore, the 1st day of creation.

• 8th day of the week = 1st day of a new week; therefore, the day of a new creation

Bright Week, the week after Easter Sunday just ended. The church celebrates Bright Week as the 8th day if creation.

Many baptismal fonts have 8 sides (octagon) and demonstrate our baptism into the new creation, our baptism as a new creation In Jesus' death and resurrection.

Revised Common Lectionary – RCL

A couple of people have asked about the lectionary, so here's a very short rundown. We get our scripture readings from the revised common lectionary, "common" because most denominations use it—in common. That includes protestant mainline churches like the ELCA, UMC, PCUSA, Roman Catholic, some eastern and other Orthodox, some free churches such as baptists. Because the scripture selections are readings, hopefully they also are hearings.

The three-year cycle brings us a year that features each of the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. "Synoptic" means seen with a single eye, since their perspective is somewhat similar. The fourth gospel from John's community brings us a very different worldview. Each week the lectionary suggests four scripture passages:

1. usually from the Hebrew Bible, but during the fifty day season of Easter we hear from the Acts of the Apostles.

2. the psalm technically is not a reading, but our response to God's grace and good news. Sometimes referred to as "responsive psalm." Maybe you notice the choir and a cantor lead the psalm, and we always participate by singing the refrain?

3. from one of the epistles in the new testament

4. always from one of the four gospels.

John 20:19-31

19When 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." 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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."

26A 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." 27Then 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." 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

29Jesus 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. 31But 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.

Every year on the second Sunday of Easter we hear John 20:19-31! This are accounts of two separate events. The first story happens on the evening of the day of Jesus' resurrection; the second a week later. Thomas sometimes gets called "doubting," but unbelieving or not-believing is closer to the perspective of John's community that recorded the gospel.

John is the gospel of abiding love! It starts with "in the beginning…" and tells us God "dwelt among us," pitched a tent, a tabernacle, a portable dwelling so God could travel around and be with us wherever we went. Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17 describes Jesus' relationship with the Father, Jesus' desire to remain with us.

In John's gospel, sin is not so much transgression of or lack of conformity to the law of God as the Westminster Catechism describes sin, but a lack of abiding, a lack of trusting relationship with Jesus. And it's not only relationship and abiding with Jesus, but also with one another. The undisputed epistles of Paul have a similar sense of our being "in Christ," as he expresses it. For John's community and for Paul we move from being solitary isolated individuals to belonging within the body of Christ, not in an undifferentiated blob, but each of us bring unique gifts, make unique contributions.

Closed door, locked doors: Greek word is the same and basically means it's hard to get in. Fear again! "Fear of the Jews?" Those who killed Jesus, because after all, Jesus' disciples were Jewish. We find fear and related words hundreds of times in both testaments! Pastor Peg guessed maybe about 600 times! Just as Jesus went to find the apostles, Jesus seeks us out and finds us where we are.

Jesus bestows peace on his followers; this peace is not simply absence of conflict, but shalom, well-being, connectedness, integrity, etc.. We enjoyed a long discussion of passing of the peace during the liturgy, before we approach the Lord's table. Also how we need to extend that peace to stranger, newcomers, to everyone! "Neighborology" as we discussed last fall with Luke, Jeremiah, et al.