May 7, 2023, As The Father Has Sent Me, Even So I Send You (Eastertide 4)

Image by skittledog via Flickr

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/824435623?share=copy

Screencast-o-matic: https://screenpal.com/watch/c0hiVXVzPnk

———————————————–

If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: (St. Teresa of Avila:)
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which   He looks
Compassion on this world…
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

HYMN Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou My Vision – Audrey Assad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Optrm7lF16s

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Have Thine Own Way, Lord by Lynda Randle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKldMtr08FE

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: As The Father Has Sent Me, Even So I Send You.
Text: John 20:19-31
Series: Instructions for Resurrection

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And 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; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 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 believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Amazing Grace
Alan Jackson- Amazing Grace (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhChKHBJFok

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

For some reason, this Easter, more than any previous Easter, I have been struck by an idea that I’ve really never thought about before – because normally, when I read the stories of the cross and of Easter, I see the disciples moving forward, steady, certain, to the day of Pentecost when the birthday of the church happens. But for some reason, this year, I am very aware how confused and how bewildered and how shocked they must have been at this incredible upheaval in their lives.

And maybe that’s because you and I have dealt with upheavals over the past few years.

First, there’s the whole COVID thing; that turned the whole world upside down. Not only that, the incredible upheavals in politics over the last seven years have caused us to fight and feud with each other, to yell louder and listen less, to the point to where, well, sometimes we just get afraid of the future because we just don’t know. We are in uncharted territory. And it seems this shock is something that I’m dealing with because there are upheavals that shock and bewilder us happening in our personal lives in different ways.

And so for some reason, it’s been very meaningful to me – that question that you see on the screen: “After Easter, What Now?” And I can just imagine how the disciples just don’t know what is coming. What will Jesus do next? What will we do next? What will the future be like? What’s the plan? And for some of us, is there a plan? Because it feels like the whole world is just spinning out of control.

And I think part of that is we have a feeling that we are starting over. You notice the pile of wadded-up pieces of paper over on the left of the screen? Those represent ideas of what we think we should do. But then we crumple them up because we know they’re just not going to work.

But I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding here for the disciples and very likely for us too. Certainly, it’s true that we are starting over. But that does not mean that we need to reinvent the wheel. Certainly, we are starting over. But that does not mean that we need all kinds of new ideas, which are unproven and even a little scary because maybe nothing new is actually needed … because after the resurrection, Jesus – everything he said, everything he did, everything he taught – is still true. And it still works. And it requires them to just have a slight change in perspective. But if everything that Jesus said and taught and did is still true, it could still work today. And perhaps in any upheaval, what Jesus said and did and taught will still work for us.

So maybe looking at a blank sheet of paper and trying to put our ideas on that paper – maybe that’s not the smartest way to deal with it. Maybe what we need to do is look carefully at what Jesus said and did and taught and let that form our vision, our model, our concept of the future! Why? Because one of the big problems we have is a thing called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a psychological term where if you have a preconceived notion in your head, for example, that Black people mean you harm, you will see all kinds of reasons around you why that must be true. If you have a conviction in your head that eating peach pie causes cancer – I’m trying to think of the most ridiculous thing I can think of – you will begin to notice all around you ideas that seem to say that you’re right. You will notice only what agrees with your prejudices. That’s confirmation bias.

And consequently, when we are yelling at each other because we disagree, each side becomes more and more certain that only their viewpoint can be correct. Why? Because confirmation bias is the way we are wired. How can we overcome that? It has been said, and it’s true, if you read the Bible with a preconceived notion of what it says, you’re only going to find verses that tell you that you’re right. Now, by the way, you should have a problem with that because I guarantee you, when you are ever surrounded by people who tell you that you’re always right, they’re not telling you what’s actually true. Now they may believe it’s true, but we are never always completely right.

And this is a problem with coming to the Bible with a fixed notion of what it’s going to tell us because you know what happens: The Jesus you see in there looks just like you. And the church that you see Jesus talking about, it’s a church that reflects all of your personal desires and wishes because, human nature says that when you make up your mind, everything you see tells you that you’re right.

And so we need a different way of reading the Bible, which I mentioned last week. What I would like to call inductive exegesis. And that’s not where you have a hypothesis, “this is what the Bible is going to tell us,” but you start with the Bible and let the Bible tell you what Jesus wants.

And I call it inductive “puzzle” exegesis because it reminds me a lot of doing jigsaw puzzles. Let’s imagine that you did not have the picture on the front. How could you do a puzzle without a preconceived picture of what it’s going to look like? Well, I think the answer is as you pick up this piece and you look at it and you say to yourself, “What does it go with?” And you begin to look for the connection between the various pieces. And all of a sudden, you can see the cardinal’s wing begin to take shape. You begin to look at the connection of the various pieces. And all of a sudden, you can see the cardinal’s head begin to take shape as you connect each individual piece together. So you take a piece, a verse, a scripture, you hold it up, you look at it, you examine it, and you say, “Lord, show me where this fits in your picture of what life should be.” And I’ll guarantee you, if you let the words of Jesus impact upon you, you will often be surprised at how far astray we have wandered in what we think God wants.

For most of us, all you have to do is think back to your childhood where on Easter Sunday, if you didn’t wear a hat, there was just something wrong with you if you were a woman. If you didn’t have your white gloves on, there was just something wrong with you. If the men did not have a tie on, well, there was just something wrong with them because everyone knows that God loves you more when you’re dressed up. Sadly, you will not find that in the scripture. But if you start with that idea, that’s what you discover.

And so Jesus says to the disciples, “Stay here.” And I think what they did for the 49 days between Easter and Pentecost is they reminded themselves and reminded each other of every little thing Jesus said, every little thing Jesus taught, every little thing Jesus did, and made those connections. And if we’re in a time of upheaval, it’s probably going to be helpful to us to take the same pause to revisit everything Jesus taught and said and did.

We talked about Luke last week. This is John. John 20:19, “On the evening of that day, Easter Sunday, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'” When we are anxious and when we are afraid, Jesus comes to us and says, “Don’t be afraid. Be at peace.” “And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. And then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”

Now, here come three instructions for what they are to do from now on, one, two, three. Verse 21, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.'” What does that mean? What I hear Jesus saying is, “Everything you saw me do, God’s going to now do through you. Everything you heard me say … at the right time, you’ll be prompted to repeat what I said.” In other words, what’s going to happen in the future is that I want you to do what you’ve done with me for the last three years. As we said in the call to worship this morning, the body that Christ now uses will be yours and mine – as the Father has sent me, even so I send you.

But Lord, what about the new ideas? Remember what I said, remember what I taught, remember what I did, do the same. Now, there’s nothing wrong with new ideas. I love new ideas. But we should return to the same old, same old teachings of Jesus that have always been true and always been right. Instruction number one.

Instruction number two. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” You see, you and I are not going to be the body of Christ doing all this work with our own muscles and our own effort. God, the Holy Spirit, wants to work through you and me. And that’s a completely different way to learn to be, to rely not upon ourselves, but to rely upon what God wants to do through us.

When it all depends on us, we always get in a big hurry, we always have a lot of anxiety. But if it all depends on God, there’s time for us to let God work in people’s lives. Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit says the Lord. And sometimes, we may need to revisit and learn what it means to be led by the Spirit … what it means to let the Holy Spirit flow through us. That may be something we’ll need to study.

Instruction number three, and this is the one that surprises me the most: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained. What is it in all the teachings of Jesus that is continually affirmed? God has a desire to forgive people for their sins. And that’s not always our first design, but perhaps it should be.

Now, a brief segue. Thomas isn’t there, he’s upset. He says, “I won’t believe unless I get to put my hands where the nails went in. I won’t believe unless I get to put my hand in the wound in his side where the spear went in. I won’t believe.” And eight days later, Jesus is there. Jesus comes and stands among them and says, “Peace be with you.” Verse 27. He says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, see my hands, put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believing.” And Thomas answered him, my lord and my God.

Verse 29, this is for us. Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. And friends, that’s down through all the centuries to us. We’re blessed because we believe, even though we did not see.

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe. All the words in the gospel of John, John says it’s more than once, every word is there so that you will believe. That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

And I think that’s the message of Easter. It’s time for us to have life in his name. Well, Pastor Dave, thank you for discussing that, but what exactly are your instructions? How do we do this?

Well, here’s what I would like to suggest. On the back of your bulletin, you’ll find these three questions. They’ve been included there for years. I don’t know if you’ve noticed them. But I invite you to go to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four gospels, the four books of the Bible that are about Jesus. By the way, the book of Psalms is about Jesus, but sometimes it’s a little harder for you to see Jesus in the book of Psalms. The book of Genesis is about Jesus, but sometimes it’s a little harder for you to see Jesus in the book of Genesis. The letters of Paul are about Jesus, but sometimes it’s a little harder for us to see Jesus in the writings of Paul. But certainly, we can see Jesus in the four books of the gospels that are about the life and teachings, the words and deeds of Jesus. I invite you simply to open up and put your finger down on a verse and ask these three questions. And see how it works for you.

Here’s the first question. What does it Say? Any individual verse may be profound or it may be very simple. Jesus got up, left here, went over there. That’s all it says.

The second question, does this particular verse in what it says, What does it say that I need to Obey? Because if there’s an instruction in this verse, a way that I should live, a way that I should speak, a way that I should believe, you want to let God be obeyed. It’s ironic how we lump all the scriptures together, but the ones where Jesus asks us to do something or be something – We need to recognize that they are instructions.

Then the third question — because you know the scripture is not just for you. The third question is, Who needs to hear this? And that’s when the message of God into your heart begins to connect up with another person. Now, who needs to hear this? Of course, me, I need to hear every word of Jesus. But when we ask that question, we begin to look around us for where this piece of the puzzle fits.

I went to a missionary training in 2009 in Greenwood, Indiana, that was training missionaries to use this for Bible study. They used these questions in cultures where people are illiterate. They literally go verse by verse and ask for each verse, what are the answers to these three questions? And I’m sitting there with three men who are missionaries in Spain, and we’re asking these questions about a particular passage of scripture, and they keep saying to me, “Oh, this scripture is for people who are grieving because someone has died.” And they said to me, “This scripture is for people who are angry and how they need to change.” And they said to me, “This scripture is for people who are filled with doubt.” And I looked at them and I– because these are experienced, church planing missionaries. I looked at them and I said, “Brothers, I think you’re wrong. Because when you’re using this question as it’s supposed to be used, the answer that’s going to come to you is this scripture is for my friend, John. This scripture is for my sister, Diane. This scripture is for my nephew, Daniel.” Because God, just as we connect the pieces of a puzzle together, God wants to connect the truths of these individual scriptures with people we know. And it just might be, but you will feel led to tell that person of the scripture you read. Could be.

But it’s astonishing to me, if we’re willing to be patient and go verse by verse, how much deep meaning can be found, even in a single verse when we ask these questions. But the key is that we take each verse and pick it up and say, “Where does this fit with what Jesus wants?”

Because I think in a time of upheaval, in a time when we don’t know, in a time when we don’t understand, in a time when we’re filled with confusion and quite often fear of the unknown, let’s let Jesus define, verse by verse, what the after resurrection church should be like. Rather than start with a picture in our head of what it used to be like, or a picture in our head of what other people say it should be like, let’s let Jesus define what the church should be like. Verse by verse, piece by piece, what Jesus wants from us will begin to take shape and be clear when we connect the pieces together. And in fact, won’t it be true that what we’re seeing – as the Father has sent me, even so, I send you – what Jesus did on that day, Jesus wants to do now. What Jesus said on that day is still true today. Well, Jesus taught that year is still true for this year. No matter how the world has changed, it’s still true. But if we let Jesus speak, we can avoid the trap of our own preconceived ideas and confirmation bias. So let’s let Jesus define what our church should be like because certainly, it should be a church to where – as the Father has sent Jesus, now Jesus is sending us. Certainly, it should be a church where we receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit flows and works through us. Let’s let Jesus define what the church in our future should be like.

And now let’s turn to this third instruction. As we said in the call to worship,
yours are the eyes
with which he looks,
compassion
on this world.

The third instruction is this: if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

Now I’d like to suggest that when we ask what that means, we not think of it as a choice … because I wouldn’t want us to think that we have a choice, “Lord, forgive him, but her, oh, let that sin stick forever to that person.” I wouldn’t want us to think like that.

Have you ever lost your temper and looked at someone and said, “You can go to hell.” Let it sink in, Friends. They really could. I’d like to suggest we not think of that as a choice but a reminder. Jesus wants us to look at people with compassion and wants us to say, “Lord, forgive this person. Lord, forgive that person.”

Now I don’t know how you go through your day. But when I stand in line at Walmart, it does not occur to me to look at the person in front of me that is holding up the line because it’s a 15-item line and they’ve got 30 items. It doesn’t occur to me to look at them and say, “Lord, forgive them for being so selfish and stupid.” It doesn’t occur to me.

It doesn’t occur to me when someone’s driving in front of me 12 miles below the speed limit that I should look at that car and say, “Lord, forgive them for being so stupid and inconsiderate.”

And in fact, I’ll be honest with you, friends, this is a command. But as I go through my day, I don’t find myself praying that God would forgive people. It just doesn’t occur to me.

Certainly, if I’m looking at someone who’s really noble and wonderful, I could pray, Lord, forgive them because they deserve it. Certainly, it’s hard to look at someone who doesn’t deserve it and say, “Lord, they need your forgiveness even more.” And I’m incredibly humbled because, of course, Jesus said upon the cross, looking down on the people that nailed him to the cross. Looking down on the religious leaders that are mocking him and making fun of him in order that his suffering might be greater, Jesus looks down on them and says, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

And so I want to suggest that whatever it is that the church is supposed to be in the future, whatever our church is supposed to be in the future, perhaps the instruction that we’ve missed is that we need to be a church to where each one of us asks God to forgive the people we encounter. And certainly, especially the people who irritate us. Especially the people who anger us. Especially the people that disappoint us. Especially the people that hurt us because if we do that, we’re being like Jesus. And certainly what the world needs is for people to be like Jesus.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, there are some parts of the Bible we know very, very well because they fit with where our hearts are, and they fit with what our mind understands. But Lord, help us … because maybe there’s a verse here or a verse there that hasn’t really sunk in. Maybe there’s a verse here or a verse there that has something important to say, but we just don’t notice. We’re not paying attention to the verses that don’t fit with what we think and how we feel, but Lord, I pray that everything you said and everything you did would begin to affect and influence us. And in particular, Lord, because you were always about forgiveness, help us not only to be more forgiving people, but help us lord to be people who, as we move through the crowd, find ourselves saying in our hearts, “Lord, show them how much you love them. Lord show that person, how much you care about them. Lord, forgive them of their sin and help them to come closer to you.” We ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Amazing grace. We talk about how amazing it is, don’t we? But I think this command to intentionally forgive people might be one way to make grace even more amazing. In fact, I’ll be honest with you, I am not so sure that I shouldn’t begin to make a list of people that I know that need to be forgiven, and pray for them every day. I’m not so sure that I shouldn’t pray before I fall asleep at night, just like I did last night, “Lord, forgive that person. Lord, forgive that person. Lord, forgive that person,” because when God answers that prayer, they will experience amazing grace. Let’s sing …

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

This entry was posted in Past Attend "Worship at Home". Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.