Easter 5 A 2020 Sermon
Grace to you and peace… Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
This has certainly been a frustrating year. The activities, and the daily routines that we rely upon to bring order to our lives have been disrupted. Events have been cancelled. Schools have been closed. Sporting events suspended. Graduation ceremonies delayed. Vacation plans put on hold. Businesses, restaurants and retail outlets restricted in what they can offer to the public. Like I said, this has certainly been a frustrating year.
But now we have a glimmer of hope. The State of Texas is slowly beginning to open the economy. Who knows, maybe next week we can go and get a haircut; and maybe we can go and do some/all the things that just a few months ago we all took for granted.
We can hope. We all can hope. And that is the message we have for us today in our Gospel reading. And it is a good thing because we need hope. Hope is important. Hope is faith facing the future. We all we need something to look forward to; or we lose heart and feel depressed and go out of our minds.
We need hope to function well in the present. We need hope to live healthy lives. The gift of Hope is a wonderful thing. Hope lifts our spirits and hope helps us to move forward in our daily lives.
Today in our Gospel text the disciples were also frustrated. Jesus had just told them prior to our reading that “One of you will betray me.” And in our text today Jesus told them that where He was going none of His disciples could follow, at least not yet.
And this was all very troubling to His disciples. So, in one of His final addresses to His disciples, Jesus said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you?”
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you will be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
Faced with bad news. And faced with the prospect of being left behind the disciples needed to have something to look forward too. And Jesus Christ our Lord provided the Good News.
Jesus first implored His disciples to have faith in God, and faith in Himself. And Jesus told His disciples to believe and trust that He is the One sent by God to do His Father’s will in our world.
Jesus then spoke peace to troubled hearts by pointing His disciples to where He was going and what He would do there. He was going to his Father’s house, as He put it, to prepare a place for those who believe in Him and follow Him.
Therefore, do not be discouraged. Have hope. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. In other words, there is room for you. There is room for me. There is room for everyone who trusts and believes in the promises Jesus Christ our Lord gives to us.
This is the hope Jesus gave to His disciples. This is the hope Jesus gives to us. Jesus went to His Father’s house for our benefit. And He tells His disciples “you know the way to where I am going.”
But this raised a lot of questions in the minds of His disciples. And Thomas speaks, saying “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Thomas said this because the whole “going away” thing was very upsetting. It was disturbing because God’s Redeeming Activity in our World was still shrouded in mystery. But the same is not true for us. We know today where Jesus was going that night. And we know what happened on the following day.
Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and put on trial. And Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. That is where He was going; and Jesus knew it as He spoke the Words that we have in our Gospel text today. Jesus was going to the cross, to suffer and die for His disciples and for all who put their future in His hands.
Scripture informs us that the way to the Father’s house runs through the cross. Jesus served us (and saved us) by being the perfect sacrifice for our sins. As scripture states “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That is what Christ our Savior did for us. Jesus laid down His life so that the penalty for our rebellion against God would be paid in full by Him. Jesus takes the death that otherwise would strike us down to free us from eternal separation from God.
That is why Christ’s Resurrection is the great victory. Sin, death, and the power of the evil one has been defeated. We have a hope now that reaches beyond all that can harm us in this world, and a hope that reaches beyond the grave itself. Jesus conquered the grave for us and gives us the hope of eternal life. And that is why we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
As I read todays text, I was reminded again of what Peter wrote at the beginning of his first letter which states “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His 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
People of God… we have hope, a real hope. And we can rejoice in this hope even amid the difficulties of this life. Yes, life can be difficult and full of trouble. Bad things do happen to us. We can (and we will) experience physical ailments, emotional wounds, discouragement, loss of loved ones, even pandemics.
The daily routines of our lives can (and will be) disrupted. From time to time we will even experience a period of frustration like we are experiencing now.
But in all the afflictions that we face in this life, Jesus is there in the midst of the event speaking hope to troubled hearts; saying “In my Father’s house are many rooms… and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Yes, we have hope. We all have hope. And that is the message we have for us today in our Gospel reading. And it is a good thing because we need hope. Hope is important. Hope is faith facing the future. And that is the Good News that Christ gives to us this morning to comfort us (and motivate us) as we live our lives now even as wait for the resurrection of the body and life in the world to come. Amen.
Let us pray: Almighty God, you have given victory to Christ, your anointed one. Keep us from stumbling into lessor loyalties, and give us strength to stand firm, trusting in the grace and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: I Know That My Redeemer Lives! ELW # 619
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Give us grace to love one another, to follow in the way of his commandments, and to share his risen life with all the world, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.