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a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

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We have moved the service that was tentatively planned for this Friday July 13th to Friday, September 21st 7PM-8:30PM in commemoration of th...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SERMON NOTES ON John 20:19–31 The Sunday After Easter
1. Disciples of Jesus – those who follow him – those who walk in his ways – that’s our life, right? Disciples of Jesus.

 2. As disciples, what should be more important to us: Is sharing... the Good News that others might hear it so that the Holy Spirit can work faith in them - If faith comes from hearing – then our sharing of the Good News would be at the heart of our discipleship, wouldn’t it?

 3. Or is it embodying that story – how we choose to live our life – allowing people to see the Good News as we live it out through the choices we make each and every day? If faith comes from seeing – then how others see us living out our faith would be at the heart of our discipleship, wouldn’t it?

 4. Does faith come by hearing or seeing? See if we can answer that question then we would know, wouldn’t we, if we should spend more time equipping ourselves to share the gospel or to live the gospel.

 5. Which is it? Does faith come by hearing or seeing? In our gospel today , Thomas wants to see Jesus – actually more than see Jesus - he wants to thrust his finger in the holes in his hands and place his fist in the hole in Jesus’ side. Why? Because he does not believe the words that he is hearing: from every other disciple – that Jesus is alive – that Jesus is risen – just as he said he would. No – words are not enough for Thomas – he wants to see (and touch) before he will believe. So let’s put a point in the seeing camp. FAITH COMES BY SEEING. Shout it out.

 6. Now let’s take a peek back at the Easter story in John in Chapter 20. The other disciple, the one Jesus loved, we are told (poor Peter!) sees the linens wrappings all neatly folded up in the tomb and that the tomb is empty and he what? Believes! So FAITH COMES BY SEEING, right? He sees and believes. Meanwhile Mary is left all alone at the tomb and sees the empty tomb – then sees the two heavenly beings. She sees them, mind you. Nothing, yet. Then she sees Jesus and thinks that he is the gardener – nothing, yet. Then Jesus calls her by name – MARY - she hears her name called by Jesus and at once believes! So, FAITH must come by Hearing, mustn’t it? Shout it out! FAITH COMES FROM HEARING. So we have the disciple whom Jesus loved who sees and believes and Mary who hears and believes – does faith come by seeing or by hearing? In this case, I think we need to score a point for both.

 7. Now, let’s go back to the upper room: Thomas is not hiding in the room with the rest of the disciples – the ones who are afraid. He is somewhere else. Brave Thomas! But Jesus chooses this exact moment to appear precisely within that locked room and behind that locked door. There in that room, Jesus speaks “Peace be with you” and shows all of the disciples (except the missing Thomas) his wounds then and after they see the wounds of Jesus their eyes are open and they “see” the Lord. So obviously faith comes by seeing! Shout it out!

 8. They report to Thomas that they have “seen the Lord” and Thomas says that unless I see I will not believe. And one week later he does see – the Lord offers the same word of peace then shows Thomas his hands and his side. And what happens? Thomas believes! So faith comes from seeing, right? FAITH COMES BY SEEING!

 9. Well, we seem to have a trend going here, except then Jesus declares “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
 It seems like Jesus is pushing us to a faith that comes by hearing which the Apostle Paul will pick up and declare in Romans 10:

 10. “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?”

 11. So it seems like Paul is settling the issue for us, doesn’t it? – Faith comes by hearing Paul says. Someone proclaims and someone hears and the Holy Spirit produces faith in the hearer. FAITH COMES BY HEARING. But then Paul will go on to remind us again and again in other places about how we witness to Christ and to faith by how we choose to live.

 12. Faith comes be Seeing. Faith Comes by Hearing. It seems like the two ways in which the Holy Spirit works faith are woven together like two colored threads of a prayer shawl. We may very well struggle in our discipleship when we try to make much of faith an “either/or” proposition. We need to get more comfortable with the idea of holding things in tension. Holding them together. In this case faith coming by either seeing or hearing and sometimes both!

 13. Here’s where the story of Thomas can open our own eyes: before Thomas could hear – I mean ten other disciples all told him the same story about Jesus’ resurrection – but before he could really hear the story – have it open and transform his heart into a believing heart– he needed to see Jesus. Others, they could see and others they could hear, but Thomas, he really needed some of both.
14. Look, a lot of people out there need to hear the story that has been entrusted to us by God – but a bunch of them need to see Jesus first. See Jesus in us. And some need to see and to hear, just like Thomas.

 15. So two things become readily apparent for our discipleship: One, we need to know the story in order to share it. Not just know of it, but know it well enough that we can share it. Tell it to our children and our children’s children, to neighbor and friend. And two: we need seek to embody the faith in how we choose to live our lives. To, as they say, walk the talk. We’ll never be perfect, but we are called into new life in Christ and about that life, as the writer of Ephesians says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

 16. We don’t do any of these things to impress God – as if we could impress God. We don’t do either of these things because they have any bearing upon our salvation, because they don’t. We share the Gospel and live the Gospel so that others by hearing and seeing might through the work of the Holy Spirit come to faith in Jesus Christ.

 17. As we moved forward from Easter the question is: And are we willing to learn the story in order to share the story? Are we willing to struggle to embody the faith, not just when it is convenient, but especially when it is not? AMEN!

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