Easter 2 A 2020
1 Peter 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Christ Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Life can be like a rollercoaster. One minute we are full of hope and the next minute hopelessness fills our minds with fear. Last week the movie “Titanic” was shown on TV and it reminded me of the human experience we all share when it comes to reality of life. One minute the Titanic was the “unsinkable ship” that would usher in a glorious new era of transatlantic travel and the next minute the ship found itself in a hopeless situation. But life is like that. History is full of examples like that.
But the Good News given to us through the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior promises us that life is never hopeless.
Do you know someone who is always full of sunshine? Do you know someone who is always happy no matter what is going on around them? I have met this type of person. And the blessing these people give us is that their natural positive attitude affects everyone that they meet in their daily life.
I don’t know about you, but I find trying to maintain this unending stream of hope exhausting, if not impossible. Think about it. There are numerous reasons why we might feel hopeless. Illness, grief, money problems, age related issues, school problems, work struggles, friend issues, economic uncertainty, pandemics, social isolation, even listening to the daily news on Fox, CNN, or MSNBC. There are many things out there in this world that can take a bright sunny day and turn it into a dark and cloudy day.
It may surprise you to hear that I find hopelessness hard to explain. For me hopelessness feels like walking in a fog which I can’t escape; or carrying around a weight that is too heavy for me to lift. But these two illustrations do not fully describe the feeling of hopelessness. I bet you have your own unique way to describe the feeling of hopelessness. No matter how hopelessness is described it is a miserable experience. Thankfully hopelessness is a feeling that I do not experience that often. I pray the same is true for you.
Today in our Gospel reading the disciples are in a state of hopelessness. For the past three years Jesus had walked with them, and loved them, and taught them, and even performed miracles in their presence so they could go and be a witness to God’s Redeeming Activity in our World. But now their beloved teacher was dead. And to make matters worse His body was missing.
The future, in their eyes, looked bleak. “What would happen to them?” “Would life return to the way it was before they met Jesus?” The wonderful, exciting, fulfilling experience they had with Jesus was over. The last three years now seemed like a distant memory.
But then suddenly a miracle happened. The Jesus who had died, the Jesus who had been buried, the Jesus whose body had disappeared, was standing right in front of them. And not only was He alive, He was speaking to them.
With words meant to comfort them, Jesus said “Peace be with you!” Jesus said this because Jesus wanted to let the disciples know that their lives are not defined by hopelessness but by the living hope fueled by the living Lord.
Let me ask you this… “What gives you hope?”
Can I answer this for you? True hope is found in the Resurrection of Christ. And because He lives, your life is never hopeless. Peter said it best when he wrote, “According to God’s great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
Peter knew and trusted that the hope that God gave all of us in our Baptism will never be destroyed. Yes, it may be battered at times, but it will persevere by His power. Therefore no matter what you go through, no matter what trials you endure, no matter what you are struggling with, the fact that Jesus is alive means that Christ is with you to guide you through the darkness of this world.
Saint Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put it this way, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 Hope, therefore, is trusting in the Lord above all things.
Unfortunately, Thomas (who was called the Twin) was not with them when Jesus appeared before them when the disciples where locked behind closed doors. So, when the disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas did not believe them. Thomas 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.” John 20:25b
Thomas is honest. Thomas represents you. Thomas represents me. Like gold that needs to be refined by fire to remove all the impurities, Thomas needed to be refined by the One sent by God to save humanity from the hopelessness of non-belief. You and I need Christ’s Redeeming Activity too.
We are told that one week later, when the disciples were again in the house, Jesus again appeared to them. And this time Thomas was with them in the house. And this time Jesus came and stood among them and said: “Peace be with you.”
Then He asked Thomas to touch His wounds. And then Jesus instructed Thomas with these words “Do not doubt but believe.” And Thomas, full of faith shouted: “My Lord and my God!”
And Jesus responded “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29
The Bible informs us that God’s people walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 Our text today informs us that that we are blessed because we believe without seeing. And that is why even though we do not physically see Jesus, we are given the blessings of things we cannot give to ourselves… namely the hope of eternal life.
Yes… Life can be like a rollercoaster. One minute we are full of hope and the next minute hopelessness fills our minds with fear. Thankfully there is hope. Christ Is Alive. Christ is the source of our hope. God is faithful to all His promises and this is what gives us hope.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Christ Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Prayer of the Day: Almighty and Eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reign’s with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Hymn of the Day “Christ is Alive! Let Christians Sing” ELW # 389