Easter Week Two

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
And to bear the cost
Of giving up our false self.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear you,
Even when I hide and doubt.
Help me to follow you in all of life,
And to walk in the joy and freedom of the resurrection
Amen

Season of Easter. Week Two

This week the lectionary guide leads us into John’s gospel narrative (20:19-31) and back into the upper room in Jerusalem, where the disciples, disillusioned and afraid, huddle in their collective and separate grief. The doors are locked because they fear the wrath of the religious authorities. If Jesus had been arrested and crucified on charges of saying he was King of the Jews, what might happen to them, his closest followers? When they hear what the women say about the resurrection, about the angel’s message, and about seeing Jesus, they are unable to believe what they hear. Not yet.

Easter and its brilliant light of resurrection is hidden from their sight.

As we wait here, the day gradually draws to a close. The sun sets. Shadows fall across the room where they hide. Suddenly they realize that someone else is standing among them, and then they hear a voice: “Peace be with you.” They had heard that voice before! Could it be? This same One shows them his hands and his side—the wounds of crucifixion and a sword’s piercing.

Like a new tide, joy ripples into their soul, recognition begins to unlock the closed doors of their minds, and hope begins to flow again. . . . Jesus is risen, just as he said!

Jesus draws these followers into a new solidarity with himself and God’s desires. Just as God sent him into the world, so Jesus now sends them. And just as the Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus as he began his ministry, so Jesus now breathes upon them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” With these words Jesus not only confers a God-given authority upon his followers but also reminds them of what kingdom authority is about: the freedom and compassionate power to forgive. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching, his life, and his self-giving death shines this release from bondage. He came to set the captives free. Matthew, the former tax collector, remembers this well: Jesus came to call not the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:13). All of them could call to mind the prayer Jesus taught them: “Forgive us our debts, as w also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

We are given to learn here that the mark of the Holy Spirit’s presence upon and within us will be the gift of the peace of Jesus within and among us, and a recognition of Jesus’ presence among us. Another mark will be our response to sin—within ourselves and others. Forgiveness is to be offered. Forgiveness is not automatic or easy, but to be given. Our responses to the promptings of the Spirit of Christ have eternal implications and shape the kingdom.

As you enter this narrative in John 20 this week,

  •  seek to be present to the grief and loss of these early disciples
  •  become aware of the fears which cause you to hide
  •  seek to be present to Jesus as he comes and shows you the marks of his crucifixion and offers you peace
  •  and then breathes upon you and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
  •  Be aware of how Jesus’ presence, his death, his peace, and
  • the in-breathing of the Holy Spirit upon and within you, free and empower you to be a presence for healing and good news in the world.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize you
To receive your gift of the Spirit
And so to live resurrection.

Amen

Second Sunday of Easter

  • 4/9 Monday: John 20:19-23
  • 4/10 Tuesday: John 20:24-31
  • 4/11 Wednesday: Psalm 133
  • 4/12 Thursday: Acts 4:32-35
  • 4/13 Friday: 1 John 1:1-2:2
  • 4/14 Saturday: John 20:19-23
  • 4/15 Sunday: John 20:24-31