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The Resurrection Life: Abundance

The Resurrection Life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  20:08
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Jesus visits the disciples and shares with them the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit. Even through Thomas' doubts, we find a resurrection life that is filled with more from God than we could ever need -- an abundance of peace, presence, and wonder.

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The New Revised Standard Version Jesus Appears to the Disciples

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

(Lk 24:36–43; 1 Cor 15:5)

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.”

Jesus and Thomas

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.”

The Purpose of This Book

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.

This morning, we’re launching into a new series, emerging from the season of Lent into the glorious season of Easter Resurrection.
We say it together — Christ is risen! Christ is Risen indeed!
On Easter Sunday, I asked you to think about places where you have seen the signs of resurrection life around you. As we are bound to our homes, holding hope for the passing of the pandemic, we have the challenge of looking for hope and new life amidst darkness, sadness, and loss. But, thankfully, as the People of God, this is what we do! We look for the resurrection because we are assured that it is all around us.
Many of you sent photos of life breaking out all around you. The smiles on your faces, the natural wonders you share — they bring joy and a spark of hope. Let’s celebrate as we see these Signs of Resurrection Life!
[Play “Signs of Resurrection” Video]
Just like the disciples, huddled in their home out of fear, we are hunkered down. And yet the Resurrection of Christ is not bound by walls or by our fear. Christ arrives in their midst, right among the disciples in their deepest despair.
This morning, I want to explore one facet of the Resurrection Life as we explore this story of the disciples’ encounter with Jesus after Easter. That is “Abundance.” As people of the Resurrection, we proclaim a number of powerful, yet counterintuitive and subversive aspects of what life is really about. In the Resurrection, for instance, we proclaim that God provides abundantly for God’s people. God’s abundance — in love, in signs and wonders, in joy and hope — is a sign of Resurrection Life living in us.
Jesus shows the disciples three Signs of the Resurrection in this passage that speak to the Abundance of the Resurrection Life.
First, the Abundance of Peace.
Second, the Abundance of Presence.
And third, the Abundance of Wonders.
As we have shared our signs of resurrection life, I pray that we will be able to resonate and map upon our own lives the way Jesus shows up to his disciples and share that resurrection life.

Abundance of Peace

I love that Jesus, as soon as he surprises his friends by arriving in the house they were staying, is to offer them peace.
The greeting of peace is exactly what the disciples need. With the doors locked, with all their fear — they need the calm, disarming word from their beloved Christ. This is not a Birthday Party, where the host jumps out from hiding and says “Surprise!” For a bunch of jumpy folks with cabin fever who’ve been hunkered down in fear — that is most definitely not what they need! They need peace.
And Christ knows this. Abundantly well. Jesus enters this space of our their (and our fear) and offers an abundant blessing of peace. The Greek word is eirene - and is peace, safety, well-being, health, friendship, reconciliation, prosperity. It is shalom, the abundant state of rest beyond all worry. I say this is a mark of abundance because it pushes directly against what fear and concern lead us to: scarcity, hoarding, self-protection.
Have we not witnessed the outcomes of fear and worry in this time? How’s your toilet paper stock? What do our portfolios look like? Or simply, how about the cracks in our sanity from being homebound with our children and partners for so long?
Christ brings an abundance of peace with him in the Resurrection. More than we could imagine possible, peace which calms and brings a breath of rest to this moment of tension.

Abundance of Presence

Next, we find Jesus bringing an abundance of presence.
The disciples rejoice at his arrive, vs. 20 tells us. And you know what, I bet they were most happy because they thought it meant he was back for good, back to set things right and finish what his movement started. Out of the fear and worry, there would have grown a deep desire to go back to the way things were, the way things were supposed to be headed: Jesus on the throne, the Romans overrun, the religious system set back in order — all made right with their Risen Lord back in the place he belonged — as King.
But in the Resurrection Life, we must also be ready to be surprised by the unfolding of new things that show up. Because Jesus doesn’t come to bring his own Presence back to the table, to return to how things were — to make the disciples or his movement great again (it never was meant to be great to begin with, not in the way the people expected it to at least). In the Resurrection Life, Jesus comes with a different Presence.
And this Abundance of Presence is the gift of the Spirit, which sends forth the disciples to now be the Presence themselves. Jesus says a second time, in vs. 21 - “Peace be with you.” And he continues: “‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
The second Sign of Resurrection Life is that the disciples are now empowered by Christ’s Presence in their very breath. The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma, which also means breath. The Abundant Presence of the Holy Spirit is now in their breath.
Think about it this way: enclosed in their homes, for fear and worry — doesn’t it feel claustrophobic, too close, like there’s not enough room to breathe? (There again, we see the sign of death — the fear of scarcity). So Jesus breathes upon them the abundant Presence of the Spirit — hyperpresent, everywhere, as ubiquitous as breath itself.
For people who encounter the Resurrection Life — we also begin to see it and breathe it everywhere. It becomes so easy to witness, like the breathe of God’s name in our lungs. And not only does Jesus breathe the spirit into the tight rooms of our lives, Jesus breathes the Spirit’s Presence so that it might send us out into the world empowered to discover that Presence everywhere!
Which leads us to our third Sign of Resurrection — the Abundance of Wonders.

Abundance of Wonders

You may say — sure, all well and good. It’s easy enough to show up and say “peace.” That doesn’t have to mean much. And sure, you can breathe on me and share your presence with me, sure, that’s nice, but what does that really show.
Enter: Thomas.
I like Thomas. I like his doubt. I like how he’s late to the game and doesn’t buy what the other disciples are spreading, at least not without something more. He needs proof. He needs signs. He needs wonders.
So some time passes and Thomas is still sitting with this dissonance — he isn’t sure he buys what everyone else is talking about.
I love the materiality of Thomas. He needs real, material, tactile, earthy, bodily confirmation of this abundance. Of this Resurrection Life.
Once more, Jesus shows up to bring the Resurrection Life, this time to our friend Thomas. Again, with the greeting of “Peace be with you.” Do you feel Jesus’ quiet confidence here. He’s not rattled by Thomas’ doubt. He brings calm and strength and love.
And then, he does what I know we all long for — He shows the real. He shows Thomas his scars. He shows Thomas the marks in the physical, material world that make this abundance move from breath and peace to something real, evidence-based, peer-reviewed, tested and tried and true.
Isn’t this what so many of us need? Don’t be discouraged by Jesus’ final words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
We need this confirmation. We are the ones who have not seen the scars — and yet, we are offered an Abundance of Wonders in our lives and world that show the signs of the Resurrection.
You all just submitted a bunch of them: Flowers and sunshine and blossoms and fellowship and ducks and walks through the park and smiling faces of people you love and dancing and artwork and homemade feasts and laughter over internet phone calls and the spaciousness of less cluttered days and finding the true belonging to one another through our distance. These are the Abundant Wonders of the Resurrection Life!
As people who seek to live the Resurrection Life, we are sent into the world (both physically, and in seasons like this, virtually) to discover these wonders and share about them. This is what “bearing witness” is. The people of God encounter the Resurrection Life: In Peace, in Presence, and in Wonder — and then we share about it. We point to it and say “look, here life is breaking through death.” “Look, here, this is Jesus’ love at work in the world!”

Where will you discover God’s Abundance this week?

Our call is to familiarize ourselves with that Peace, that Presence, those Wonders, like the disciples. We need to know what it is we’re looking for.
So my challenge for you this week is to, once again, look for Signs of Resurrection Life all around. Where do you see that Peace, that Presence, that Wonder?
And will you share it? With each other, for sure, but also with the ones in your lives who most need it? With the ones who feel the despair right now. With the ones who are lonely, the ones who are sick, the ones who are hungry.
That’s the deal — to go be the Good News is to be people who acknowledge the Resurrection Life and then take it to others in love and support. We offer that Resurrection Life to others — through compassionate service, loving presence, joyful worship, faithful care.
We do this, so that all may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing…all may have life in his name.
May the peace, the presence, and the wonders of the Resurrection be with us this day.
Amen.
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