Acts 5, 12-16
- Many signs and wonders were done among the people. I presume that the signs and wonders were apparent to those who were open to belief
and not to the others who did not dare to join them. But we are in Easter now and I will not worry much about such distinctions.
- They were all together in Solomon’s portico. In other words, inside the temple area. They
met openly and certainly drew attention to themselves.
- More than ever believers in the Lord, great numbers of men
and women, were added to them. The church continued to grow, a natural result
of the example the first disciples showed.
- They even carried the sick out into the streets. It is a sign of faith that people would make such a public display.
How many people today report their illness to the media on their own accord?
How many healing services are televised?
- So that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall
on them. Is the idea only to receive a cure – which after all would
not keep them from dying later on – or to be close to the apostle who gave them so much freedom from fear? I want to speak of that intimacy and the overwhelming confidence that it brings.
- A large number of people brought the sick and those disturbed
by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. What is going on here? What do I want to convey about these followers of the Nazarene? The apostles will soon be arrested and questioned by the Jewish leaders.
There is obviously some exaggeration in Luke’s words, but his message is undeniable: that this movement has not
harmed a soul but rather has exuded life and hope at every moment.
- Central point: They were all believers in the Lord. In another part of Acts it says that the Lord
added to their number. They cannot give themselves the credit.
- Message for our assembly: Is our church alive? Are others inquiring about us?
- I will challenge myself: To have our church hear the witness of the
first believers, and be measured by their faith and love.
Revelation 1, 9-11, 12-13 and 17-19
- I begin today reading the book that our church suspects so much. What
can we learn about our faith?
- I, John your brother, who share with you the distress, the
kingdom and the endurance we have in Jesus. So our passage begins. There is little harmful in this, and much that is edifying. I
will read it in a high-pitched voice, as a letter being sent to the seven churches.
- I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day. And now a vision begins. I will recount
it much as I recount my dreams, in excitement and in wonder at the images that I clearly see, which are strange even to me
but no less real. Now, to do it faithfully I will need to place myself inside
the vision, and that will take some imagining along with the rehearsal of the words. Some
details have been left out, probably for the sake of brevity, so I will have them in mind as I read.
- In the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man wearing
an ankle-length robe. The short selection does not impress us as much, so
I should make it clear that the man bears the divine presence.
- When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though
dead. He touched me. “Ah,
he touched me! And oh the joy that fills my soul!” The words of the hymn are so appropriate, because Jesus should mean
everything to us.
- Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening,
and what will happen. Yes, there are predictions, but nothing that we should
dread. We should know by now that the coming of Christ means that everything
will change. In the Gospels, it says that the last shall be first and the first
last. That’s a language of upheaval to match anything in Revelation! I am reminded a little of Dante, who is guided by Vergil through hell and purgatory
in the Commedia.
- The Climax comes in the third part. Do
not be afraid. That alone should be our watchword as we read Revelation. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Take my time, for I read a description of Jesus that is unfamiliar to many of my listeners.
- The message for our assembly: Let no one try to scare us with these visions.
- I will challenge myself: To take my time with the vision. I want everyone
to have time to imagine these unusual sights and feel confident in imagining them.
John 20, 19-31
- The spreading of the Good News began on the first day of the week, just
as we are doing today. Jesus is present to his disciples and they are in a festive
- Once again the church is one. Wherever and whenever the
church is together Jesus can come quietly and repeat his Shalom to us: Peace be with you.
- First there are the disciples who have seen the Lord. Then there
are the disciples today who have not seen and have believed. Let me bring
out this contrast.
- ‘Doubting Thomas’ reminds us that seeing is not necessary to believe.
There were all those people demanding a sign from Jesus and missing the point.
But let me focus more on Jesus and the lesson the church wants to pass to us through this disciple.
- Climax: Jesus came. Jesus himself, destroyer of death, gives us the Spirit
of communion and makes communion possible.
- Message for our assembly: Here is a blessing that must console us all today: that we have not seen and yet believe. Our faith is not based on visions, apparitions or wonders of nature, but on the death
and life of Jesus.
- I will challenge myself: To evoke the fear that reigned in that upper room until Jesus brought the
Good News to his disciples. And then I want especially to evoke the release and
outburst when they knew that he is alive and indeed with them. These events should
accompany our church, too, especially the heart filling with joy.
From Word to Eucharist: Joy
is the way we are always supposed to conduct our lives. The Easter season raises
the pitch. Do we, so distracted by spring and by sports, pay attention? Where does our heart lie? Let us recognize
the Lord as we break bread.