Second Sunday after Easter
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
TEXTS: Acts 2:14a, 22-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20: 19-31, Psalm 16
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN
The eighth verse of the psalm struck a chord with me when I read it earlier this week. “I have set the Lord always before me; because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Only trouble was for me, my heart was shaking and palpating in an erratic manner and I didn’t feel so good. Be assured the tests so far show nothing is wrong with my heart that a calmer lifestyle wouldn’t fix, but my confrontation with my own morality and possible dis-ease in my health got me to thinking, especially as I continued to read the rest of the texts.
Most of us here have a past. Have you noticed how we relate the present and even the future in part to how we have lived or experienced the past? The disciples did it frequently as they spoke of Jesus in their letters and declared Him Savior in their sermons. They reached back into their past and often into their Scripture – recall they only had what we know of as the Old Testament – as proof positive that Jesus was the Messiah.
They needed to give their audience something to reference in order to understand the impact of Jesus’ life on the present.
Case in point – Luke’s recollection of Peter addressing the crowd in the Book of Acts of the Apostles:
“You that are Israelites (Israelites have a very strong foundation in the written word – they know what the prophets, poets and historians have said about their past, present and their future).” Peter continues: “listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know –“ He is calling them remember the immediate past experience. “this man handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” then he really strikes home with a painful memory, “you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.”
Peter than gives the good news of Easter, “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.” Then Peter reaches back into his audiences past to help them understand the present with these words from David in Psalm 16:
“I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
Moreover my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with your presence”
Peter ends his speech recalling David and his finiteness as well as his foretelling of the Messiah’s resurrection, “’He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ This Jesus God raised up and of that all of us are witnesses.”
In times of trouble and even in times of good we reach back to what we know to either offer us comfort or confirmation as to what is occurring in the present.
In the comic strip, For Better or For Worse, Elizabeth is finally engaged to Anthony. The past few days we have seen her struggle with the issue of the dress. The dress is old and belonged to her grandmother; she wants to wear it, but feels uncomfortable since her grandmother is no longer alive. She seeks her grandfather’s blessing. The grandfather has had a stroke and can not communicate well. In the strip we see him affirming her desire to wear the dress and be happy as he recalls the first time he saw the dress and was happy.
When a child skins the knee or comes across something frightening, the child usually starts calling for the mother. Not because the mother can magically take away the sting of pain, but because they remember from their brief past the comfort and safety mother has meant for them. Logically this means in bad times mothers make it better.
When any of us are faced with a new challenge – be it a task at work, a new knitting pattern, a new driving course – like driving in a strange city, we rely on what we know or what sort of resembles what we know. We reach into the past in order to live in the present and build for a future.
Some psychologists – especially the founding father, Sigmund Freud, were convinced that whatever happened or even didn’t happen in the past (lack of maternal caring) affected one’s response to the present. Doctors and nutritionists are repeatedly telling us what goes into our mouths today could affect our heart, lungs, liver, or bones tomorrow.
The present we live today, is the foundational past of tomorrow. The lesson should be for those who are young, build a strong foundation in knowledge, spirit, and experience now to aid you in your golden years.
For those of us who have a few golden and silver threads of hair the lesson should be to continue to build on the foundation we have built; mortar it with good memories; strengthen your faith by recalling God’s interventions in your life; and rest in the assurance that God loves you – that should be one of your first founding bricks.
We try to teach our children God loves you. We sing them songs about building your house on a rock instead of sand or it will go splat! We teach them of God’s love in little rhymes like “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.”
It’s these little words that we remember when the ambulance runs its siren or we sit by the bed of a loved one. They are simple; they resonate our faith as David wrote all that time ago, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken.”
Jesus loves me, much easier to remember in times of trouble. The song is not just for the young. Someone in their aged wisdom has rewritten the words. It is with these words we will end the sermon.
JESUS LOVES ME
Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.
YES, JESUS LOVES ME.. YES, JESUS LOVES ME..
YES, JESUS LOVES ME FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.
Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I'll go
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way. (CHORUS)
When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear
'Have no fear, for I am near.' (CHORUS)
When my work on earth is done,
And life's victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I'll understand His love (CHORUS)
I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day. (CHORUS)