Monthly Archives: April 2016

Fifth Sunday of Easter — Rev. Karen Barfield

Acts 11:1-18
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

In the name of the one, holy and living God:
who creates, redeems and sustains us. Amen.

“Love one another.”

Peter was there that night,
along with Judas and the others
when Jesus said, “one of you will betray me.”

One of us?
Impossible!

These disciples had spent three years of their lives following Jesus,
giving up their livelihood,
risking derision, rebuke and threats of death.

They make furtive glances around the table considering who it might be until Peter motions to John to ask Jesus.

“It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it into the dish,” Jesus responds.

After dipping the bread, he hands it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

Judas, the most trusted of the disciples,
the one who held the common purse,
ensuring the needs of Jesus and all the disciples were met…
and the needs of the poor as well.

Clever,
reliable,
responsible Judas.

After receiving the bread, Judas immediately went out.
And it was night.

It was night without – and within.

Not only for Judas but for them all.

For all except Jesus.
Jesus begins to speak about glory! Continue reading

Third Sunday of Easter — Rev. Karen Barfield

John 21:1-19

In the name of the one, holy and living God:
who creates, redeems and sustains us. Amen.

The lives of the disciples have been quite topsy-turvy over the past weeks!

Things were going along just fine…
well, as fine as life can go when following a man who chooses love
over power.

But, despite scrapes with the law, and occasionally hiding out, each morning when they got up they knew they would do good that day…touching the outcast and healing the maimed, lame, blind and possessed.

They had committed their lives to following Jesus – whatever that meant.

Until the unexpected happened.

Jesus had really ticked off the powers that be, and Judas…
well, Judas had succumbed to greed.

So a detachment of soldiers along with the police from the chief priests and the Pharisees interrupted the quiet of the garden, and violence erupted as Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the chief priest’s slave.

From that moment nothing went right.

Jesus was arrested and bound and taken to the high priest for questioning.

As he was being questioned Peter stood outside,
warming himself by a charcoal fire,
and it was then that fear overwhelmed him,
and he denied even knowing Jesus
not once,
not twice,
but three times.

Three times!

The cock crowed,
and Peter hung his head…how could he have done such a thing?
He would never have done such a thing.

If this wasn’t bad enough, Jesus was flogged and struck on his face, and a crown of thorns pierced his head.

After he was condemned to die, he had to carry his own cross to the site of crucifixion.

Jesus,
their Messiah, their hope,
was to die a shameful, painful death for all the world to see.

His crucifixion was too frightening and painful for the disciples to watch, except for the disciple whom he loved and a handful of women, including his mother who already had endured the shame and pain of his birth and could not leave him to bear his pain alone,
despite her breaking heart.

This life upon which they had staked their hopes and dreams was over when Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished.”

With haste his body was buried, and the mourning began.

Until the unexpected happened. Continue reading

Second Sunday of Easter — Dr. Sam Laurent

It is our custom in the church, and I include myself in this, to wax rhapsodic on Easter. The magnitude of the resurrection, paired with the buildup of Lent and the pull-out-all-the-stops liturgy for the day set us up emotionally to go over the top a bit with our rhetoric. Easter becomes the panacea for whatever it is that’s really bugging us about the world right now.

I’m not here to criticize that. I gleefully take part in it every year, and have been moved to tears by that moment in the vigil where a priest proclaims “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” A huge burden lifts, both liturgically as the lights come on and also spiritually as we feel the onrushing grace of the moment.

In the wake of Easter Day, though, I find myself feeling like the disciples have maybe not been treated fairly in our hearing of the story. Last week we heard about how, after the women reported that the tomb was empty, Peter rushed out to see it himself. He was, we might speculate, a bit incredulous about their story, and no doubt still emotionally raw from the events of Good Friday and his tri-fold denial of Christ as things got grim.

Jesus had told them he would be raised, and Jesus had been right about pretty much everything else. So, on Easter, we kind of feel like Peter, instead of going to see for himself, should have maybe high-fived Mary Magdalene, and said “sweet!”

It seems like Peter wanted to believe the women. He did go running to confirm the story, which he might not have done if he were so skeptical. Why run to the tomb?

Peter wanted to know. Faith is great, and will move mountains, but knowledge is so, so much easier to maintain. He needed to witness the Resurrection himself.

This week, doubt’s Christian mascot, Thomas, takes center stage. Jesus has appeared to the others, but Thomas wasn’t there. Let’s spot him that credit first. The others had seen the resurrected Christ, and he hadn’t. But Thomas needed to know he wasn’t hallucinating it, or that some elaborate disguise was not at play. He wanted to see the wounds from the crucifixion, and to touch them.

Jesus, as we all know, obliges, and Thomas gets his tangible proof of the Resurrection. And then Jesus says, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” The point is simple enough; not everyone is going to get proof like Thomas gets. For me, and for you, the Resurrection is an article of faith. For Thomas, it was an article of knowledge. Maybe you join me in being more than a little jealous. Continue reading