Top of Page ILLUMINATING AND THINKING ABOUT THE SERMON
What started out as Jesus' invitation to "Come follow me." has finished with the disciples hiding and hoping the Romans will not "Come find them." A more ironic reversal cannot be imagined! There had been some news. Mary reported seeing Jesus on Easter morning, and the next day disciples on the way to Emmaus had encountered One whom they thought to be the risen Christ. They were even taught by Him! Now these witnesses and the rest of the disciples are huddled in an upper room, as though Jesus were dead, and their names were on the short list to join Him! Then it happened. Jesus amazingly appeared in their midst behind locked doors. What happened next changed the world forever. Jesus said, "Peace be with you." (vs 36).
They were asking where the owner of the upper room might like a second door! They thought they saw a ghost and they were "startled and frightened" (vs 37). His peace would have to catch up with them! Jesus refers to their doubts and fears. Doubts paralyze our minds while fears choke our hearts. Their distress was physically visible. Jesus must have been standing between them and the only door out. Jesus now says, "It is I myself!" (vs 39).
He offers physical proof of His presence. "They still did not believe it" Vs. 41. He took and ate fish in their presence. In the presence of a scared group of people whom Jesus was counting on to preach Him to the whole world Jesus serenely stood. So far, only God could have seen the potential within the people Jesus had chosen. "Then He opened their minds, so they could understand the Scriptures." (vs 45). Until then nothing happened. Now they understood who they were and why Jesus had brought them along these three years. They were to be the witnesses to the ends of the earth. One other gift was provided. "Power from on high" (vs 49) would be their clothing for carrying out their great commission. As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years without any wear or tear upon their clothing or sandals, so the `power from on high' that formed the disciples traveling clothes never became threadbare. There is no expiration date concerning the potency of the power from on high. The disciples finally got it: the power and the understanding of the power. The disciples truly understood the idea of celebrating the presence of Christ.
The Gospel text is part of a larger unit, Luke 23:56b-24:49, that contains three literary units: the empty tomb, the walk to Emmaus, and Jesus' appearance in Jerusalem. Luke reveals his theology by the way he emphasizes certain aspects of each episode. Confusion gives way to "a new way of seeing" that leads to knowledge of Jesus' resurrection. It is evident that Jesus was to suffer, to rise, and to be preached. The first two He accomplished, but who would do the preaching?
What was the ancient kerygma that expressed what it meant for Jesus "to be preached?"
Acts 3:13-26 is the kerygma. Peter says 1. God glorified Jesus. 2. Jesus was murdered. 3. God raised Him from the dead. 4. Repent and by faith in Jesus you can join us. How did Peter get from the locked room to Solomon's Colonnade? The power did come from on high.
The man who had locked himself with his friends in an upper room in fear for his life now is walking toward the Temple. He sees a lame beggar. Staring at him Peter demands," Look at us!" (vs 4) For what purpose does he do this? To give to the beggar what he has to give: power from on high. Expecting a mite, the man is healed. Used to being ignored, the beggar is focused upon by the love of God. No good deed ever goes unpunished. Peter would one day be crucified too, but not before God established God's Church.
Peter's sermon following the healing of the lame man revealed at least three things all humans have in common. 1. All have made a fatal choice. The crowd chose Barabas over Jesus. Before we castigate them so self-righteously remember that they only did what each generation does in its own tragic way: Reject the Christ. This has been done and cannot be undone. 2. All have given up. Upon first light it looks like Death has the final word, even over the Lord of Life. Resurrection is introduced as a divine possibility. 3. All need a Conqueror over one's own death. His name is Jesus. "In the name of Jesus" are the words that have begun, and will continue to begin, all the sentences of faith that reveal the power from on high. Regardless of the circumstances one finds oneself trapped in there is hope.
The one sent to suffer, destined to rise, and ordained to be preached is this hope. Jesus has suffered and has been raised from the dead, but there is still a great need for Him to be preached. Every Christian bears a portion of the responsibility for His being preached in their generation. The third appearance of Jesus was a charm. They got it. The Church still daily moves into the world fulfilling His desire "to be preached" to everyone everywhere and at all times.
The main event is the Jesus event. It is why He came "to suffer", "to rise," and "to be preached."
There are many ways you can speak about the sudden appearance of Jesus. You can start with the many questions and supposed answers we have about how Jesus looked. The other starting place is the idea of Jesus brings to others the sudden knowledge that they were in the presence of God.
Top of Page ILLUSTRATING THE SERMON
The race and appearance of Jesus has been a topic of discussion since the days of early Christianity. There are no firsthand accounts of Jesus' physical appearance, although some authors have suggested that physical descriptions may have been removed from the Bible at some point to emphasize his universality. Most scholars consequently believe that Jesus was similar in appearance to the modern inhabitants of the Middle East, due to the Bible (and other historical accounts) unequivocally referring to him as a Galilean Israelite.
Various theories about the race of Jesus have been proposed and debated. By the Middle Ages, a number of documents, generally of unknown or questionable origin, had been composed and were circulating with details of the appearance of Jesus. Now these documents are mostly considered forgeries. By the 19th century, theories that Jesus was non-Semitic were being developed, with writers suggesting he was variously white, black, Indian, or some other race. However, as in other cases of the assignment of race to Biblical individuals, these claims have been mostly pseudoscientific, based on cultural stereotypes, ethnocentrism, and societal trends rather than on scientific analysis or historical method.
Many people have a mental image of Jesus drawn from artistic depictions. A wide range of depictions have appeared over the two millennia since Jesus's death, often influenced by cultural settings, political circumstances and theological contexts. Depiction of Jesus in art of the first Christian centuries gradually standardized his appearance with a short beard. These images are often based on second- or third-hand interpretations of spurious sources and are generally not historically accurate. :44–45
The Oldest Views and Literary Data on the External Appearance of Jesus
First there is the description of Publius Lentullus. The following was taken from a manuscript in the possession of Lord Kelly, and in his library, and was copied from an original letter of Publius Lentullus at Rome. It being the usual custom of Roman Governors to advertise the Senate and people of such material things as happened in their provinces in the days of Tiberius Caesar, Publius Lentullus, President of Judea, wrote the following epistle to the Senate concerning the Nazarene called Jesus.
"There appeared in these our days a man, of the Jewish Nation, of great virtue, named Yeshua [Jesus], who is yet living among us, and of the Gentiles is accepted for a Prophet of truth, but His own disciples call Him the Son of God- He raised the dead and cured all manner of diseases. A man of stature somewhat tall, and comely, with very reverent countenance, such as the beholders may both love and fear, his hair of (the color of) the chestnut, full ripe, plain to His ears, whence downwards it is more orient and curling and wavering about His shoulders. In the midst of His head is a seam or partition in His hair, after the manner of the Nazarenes. His forehead plain and very delicate; His face without spot or wrinkle, beautified with a lovely red; His nose and mouth so formed as nothing can be reprehended; His beard thickish, in color like His hair, not very long, but forked; His look innocent and mature; His eyes grey, clear, and quick- In reproving hypocrisy He is terrible; in admonishing, courteous and fair spoken; pleasant in conversation, mixed with gravity. It cannot be remembered that any have seen Him Laugh, but many have seen Him Weep. In proportion of body, most excellent; His hands and arms delicate to behold. In speaking, very temperate, modest, and wise. A man, for His singular beauty, surpassing the children of men"
Also there is supposedly a letter from Pontius Pilate to Tiberius Caesar describing the physical appearance of Jesus. Copies are in the Congressional Library in Washington, D.C.
A young man appeared in Galilee preaching with humble unction, a new law in the Name of the God that had sent Him. At first I was apprehensive that His design was to stir up the people against the Romans, but my fears were soon dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Jews. One day I observed in the midst of a group of people a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told it was Jesus. This I could easily have suspected so great was the difference between Him and those who were listening to Him. His golden colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about 30 years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between Him and His bearers with their black beards and tawny complexions! Unwilling to interrupt Him by my presence, I continued my walk but signified to my secretary to join the group and listen. Later, my secretary reported that never had he seen in the works of all the philosophers anything that compared to the teachings of Jesus. He told me that Jesus was neither seditious nor rebellious, so we extended to Him our protection. He was at liberty to act, to speak, to assemble and to address the people. This unlimited freedom provoked the Jews -- not the poor but the rich and powerful.
Later, I wrote to Jesus requesting an interview with Him at the Praetorium. He came. When the Nazarene made His appearance I was having my morning walk and as I faced Him my feet seemed fastened with an iron hand to the marble pavement and I trembled in every limb as a guilty culprit, though he was calm. For some time I stood admiring this extraordinary Man. There was nothing in Him that was repelling, nor in His character, yet I felt awed in His presence. I told Him that there was a magnetic simplicity about Him and His personality that elevated Him far above the philosophers and teachers of His day.
Now, Noble Sovereign, these are the facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth and I have taken the time to write you in detail concerning these matters. I say that such a man who could convert water into wine, change death into life, disease into health; calm the stormy seas, is not guilty of any criminal offense and as others have said, we must agree -- truly this is the Son of God. Your most obedient servant, Pontius Pilate. (http://www.thenazareneway.com/likeness_of_our_saviour.htm)
There are many ways of celebrating the Presence of the Lord. “It is right to give the Lord thanks and praise “(Psalm 92:1). These were the first words that came to mind when I thought about Celebrating. Next, however, words came from an old time worship icebreaker, the Bugaloo, that Bobo Burns, a man who celebrated God’s presence, led at Summerfest Camp.
Bobo, who I met in 1990 at a Christian Camp, brought joy into worship and all he did. He had a way of celebrating the Lord that I wanted to model myself.
Bobo, sadly, passed away in 2009 due to health problems he had had his entire life. Countless Facebook memories came in at that time about Bobo. I Facebooked my memory of the first Bugaloo I ever saw:
Bobo began by shouting “Let me see your Bugaloo.” 400+ junior highers shouted back “What did you say?” Three times this was repeated. Then everyone broke into an energy releasing dance jumping, twisting and turning. More verses followed such as: “Let me see you fry like bacon” followed by 400 students sizzling on the floor) or “Let me hear you praise the Lord”, “What did you say?,” “Let me hear you praise the Lord,” “What did you say” . . .etc. Finally, the powerful ending: 400 students together yelling, “Praise . . .The. . .Lord!!!”
Beautiful. In 1997 I sent a group from my first church at Summerfest. I visited midweek. There was Bobo still working, loving Jesus. I greeted him and then begged him, “Is there any way you could do the Bugaloo today? I need to hear it.” He did. And years later I still enjoy the memory of that day, of my old voice joining with 13- and 14-year-old brothers and sisters celebrating God. Celebrating God’s presence together. It was right and good. “Praise the Lord!!!” (http://hope-pc.org/2013122celebrating-the-presence-of-the-lord/)
Many Christians today tend to overlook the fact that Jesus was a Jew. But the passage in Luke emphasizes that Jesus was a fulfillment of the Jewish messianic hope. Artist Marc Chagall attempts to emphasize that very point in his painting White Crucifixion. Instead of portraying the crucified Christ as wearing a nondescript loincloth, as is often found in paintings of the crucifixion, Chagall pictures Jesus on the cross wearing the tallith (An undergarment worn by orthodox Jews. It covers the chest and upper part of the back. It has tassels (called zizith) on its four corners. A tasseled shawl or scarf worn over the head or thrown around the shoulders while at prayer. ) of a devout and observant rabbi.
There are times when people wonder whether a religious experience is good news or bad news, whether it's something to celebrate or something to fear. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a Delta Air Lines flight that was headed from Newark to Atlanta was diverted to Charlotte, North Carolina. The emergency landing was made when passengers became panicked when two "Middle Eastern men" started praying. Some of the passengers looked on that religious act as a prelude to some catastrophe. It turned out that the two men were Orthodox Jews who were simply reciting their prescribed daily prayers.
In order to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of scripture, people must first have a firm grasp of the biblical story. Yet we live today amidst a culture of biblical illiteracy. We don't share a common knowledge of the biblical narrative with one another. Rather the stories we know in common are the stories we watch on TV. We're able to converse with one another about our favorite episode of Seinfeld or Friends, but we find it difficult to carry on a discussion about the Old Testament prophets or the Synoptic Gospels. In TV history, the five most-watched shows have been: the final episode of M*A*S*H, the episode of Dallas where it was revealed who shot J. R., the eighth installment of Roots, Super Bowl XVI, and Super Bowl XVII.
During the week after the September 11 terrorist attacks, sales of Bibles rose 28% at Family Christian Stores.
Like the disciples, in the face of death, many people look for something they can hold onto. For those who have loved ones cremated, they are now able to hold onto newly formed diamonds. A company called LifeGem is now in business to take the carbon from cremated remains and turn it into diamonds. The remains can then be mounted and made into jewelry. A thimbleful of carbon can be transformed into a 1/4 karat diamond for a fee of $4000. A full karat would cost $22,000.
A central issue in the Luke passage concerns whether Jesus was telling the truth: was he truly who he claimed to be—the Messiah? Centuries ago under English common law, if a person was sued for payment of some debt which he believed he was not liable for, the person could defend himself by employing the wager of law. The wager of law involved the defendant assembling a number of friends and neighbors who were knowledgeable about the transaction between the defendant and the accuser, and they would swear alongside the defendant that no debt was owed. If those oaths were duly offered, the court would render judgment in favor of the defendant, and no payment would be required. Today such a system puzzles many people. We realize how quickly people now would gather together friends and associates who would be willing to lie in order to achieve victory in a case. But in that age, truth-telling was considered to be a matter of honor.
When the disciples saw the risen Christ, they must have wondered how it all made sense. In a similar way, scientists today continue to search for the ultimate equation that will make sense of all the occurrences in the universe, an equation that will bring together all the multitude of equations that govern gravity, electricity, light, and the many other aspects of creation. They are seeking what they call a Grand Unifying Theory, or GUT.
The disciples wanted to believe, yet at the same time they probably didn't want to appear to be gullible. The fact is there are tons of gullible people in the world today. This past November the operators of Miss Cleo's psychic hotline agreed to cancel $500 million in customers' bills. That action was in response into a federal lawsuit against the psychic, who promised mystical insights into such topics as money and love. Under terms of the settlement, the company also was forced to pay a $5 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission. During the hotline's three years of operation, bills to customers totaled more than $1 billion. Approximately 6 million people phoned the psychic hotline, at a cost of $4.99 per minute, resulting in a bill of about $60 per conversation. Sometimes the hotline tried to drum up business by leaving automated messages claiming that Miss Cleo had a dream about the person and encouraged the individual to phone the hotline to learn what the dream was about. Florida authorities have a separate civil case pending against Miss Cleo, alleging that she falsely identified herself as a Jamaican mystic. A birth certificate indicates that she was born in Los Angeles to American parents. The whole issue, though, raises the question of whether gullible people should be made to suffer, at least in part, for their own foolishness.
Good news can come as a result of death. The Japanese economy recently recognized the truth of that fact. Japan, which has been suffering from a prolonged economic slump, announced in November that its level of personal consumption had risen, a possible indication that the tide is turning in a positive direction. The only problem is that economists have discovered that a major contributing factor to that increase is a substantial increase in what Japanese people are spending on funerals. While overall personal consumption rose by .8%, the amount spent on "ceremonies," including funerals, skyrocketed by 34.7% compared to the previous year. The statistics were compiled through a survey of 8000 Japanese households. Some researchers wonder if the sample size was too small and simply included some families who had paid for some unusually expensive funerals, thereby skewing the results. The average Japanese funeral costs $19,160, which is about three times the price of a funeral in the United States or Canada.
The disciples were looking for some identifying mark so they could know for sure that it was Jesus. Traditionally some sort of clerical garb has been the identifying mark of priests and ministers. Some vicars in England, though, recently petitioned the Church of England to give them greater latitude in what they wear. But the church hierarchy rejected the plan that would have allowed some clergy to carry out their duties wearing blue jeans and T-shirts. Advocates of the change contend that wearing robes and other clerical garb tends to act as a barrier between those exercising ministry and those whom they seek to care for. The majority position, however, found it useful to have a uniform appearance among the clergy so that people can quickly identify who is who.
The Gospel story indicates that Jesus often shows up places where we might not expect him. A supermarket is not necessarily a place where most people would expect to find a representative of Christ. Yet for the past couple of years, the British supermarket chain ASDA has been placing chaplains in its stores. The chaplains are primarily there to minister to the employees, not the shoppers. As a result of having chaplains on staff, the grocery chain reports that employees are having substantially fewer sick days. If that trend carries over to North America, we might soon be hearing a page at the supermarket saying, "We need a chaplain in aisle five."
"You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it" (G. K. Chesterton).
"Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth, to see it like it is and to tell it like it is, to find the truth, to speak the truth and live with the truth. That's what we'll do" (Richard Milhous Nixon in nomination acceptance speech on August 8, 1968).
In the movie, Renaissance Man, one of the recruits in the "double D" squad (double D=dumb as dirt) who was being helped academically by Danny Devito claimed his father who died in Vietnam was a hero. He had only his mother's word and no evidence. He was mercilessly teased by the other soldiers with taunts like, "tell us about your da-a-addy!" Bill, played by Devito, decided to check into the boy's claims. He has the records researched and found out that his father indeed was a hero and was due a Bronze Star for bravery. At the graduation from basic training the colonel reads the citation and calls private Davis to come and receive the honor posthumously for his father. It really was true what he said about his "Daddy".
If something is too good to be true, there are two possibilities. One, it does not exist. This is the case of "peace in our time," "a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot," and "no child left behind" to name only three slogans. The second possibility is that it exists, but the one promising it cannot deliver it. This is the case when someone promises a 30% yearly return upon any money invested with his company. It is also the case when people ignore medical attention for some condition because they are counting on the prayer of a special faith healer doing the job. Of the two the second possibility is the most galling. Yet, here comes Jesus! Did you hear what He was saying? "Come unto me...I will give you rest."
"Your sins are forgiven." "I go to prepare a place for you." "You believe in God, believe also in me." This is all too good to be true. There is a third possibility. A divine possibility.
Forgiveness does exist and the one called Jesus can deliver it. That would make Him the Messiah.
Milo flew with the Black Knights, a refueling wing of KC135s stationed at Robins AFB. When France refused to allow our Tomcats to use their airspace to carry out an attack on the Libyan leader, Moamar Kadafi, it became necessary to refuel them out over the Atlantic Ocean. They were scrambled and given coordinates at which they were to circle and await the Tomcats. When they arrived and began banking into the turn, Milo saw a glint off metal in the distance. The KC135s then turned south and went to full power. The Tomcats pulled up underneath and behind them to receive the flying boom and the precious fuel. After refueling, the mission was completed. They were refueled again on the way home. When the pilots met months later, gratitude was expressed to the Black Knights for having been there and making the mission possible. The Tomcats had orders to return to base and abort the mission if for any reason they were not able to meet up with the refuelers. One pilot said," A lump rose in my throat as I saw the fat tankers awaiting us. I knew everything depended upon them at that point." They were not a mirage. They were real and obedient to orders.
Literature is full of reversal stories. i.e. The Prince and the Pauper, The Golden Child. The first movie serial of great acclaim was The Perils Of Pauline. A situation would come into focus that defied human ability to save her life. They tied her to the railroad tracks. They tied her to barrels of dynamite, and they left her there until next week! Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Pauline. Of course, you had to buy another ticket next Saturday to see how she escaped. She always escaped. Why do we love this construct used in literature, movies, and TV? Because it is against our nature to give up hope while there is still life. "And then along came John." is the fantasy version of the real life "Then Jesus Came." The results are the same. Somebody gets saved every time!
Daniel Webster liked to go out of Washington to churches where he was not known. When asked why, he responded, "In Washington they preach to Daniel Webster the Senator. Away from Washington they preach Jesus of Nazareth to Daniel Webster the sinner."
Jesus came to suffer, to rise, and to be preached.
The Rev. Charles Spurgeon was converted on a stormy Sunday Evening in a little Wesleyan Chapel in Colchester, England. Only seventeen people had shown up for the service and the class leader thought about having a prayer and sending them home on this dreary evening, but he decided to preach Christ anyway. The one who came forward after the preaching was Charles H. Spurgeon. Christ is never preached without His presence and power attending.
An evening news program in Norfolk, Virginia, a few years back had as its slogan: Give us one hour and we'll give you the world! If you only have one hour, preach Jesus.
For Christ "to be preached" in our world today is to oppose the fear and apprehension permeating our modern life. William Inge wrote a play entitled, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, that spoke to our condition without Christ. Near the end of Act II Cora and Sonny have a conversation as Sonny is getting ready to go to bed. "Sonny, why are you so afraid of the dark?" Cora asked. "Cause...You can't see what's in front of you. And it might be something awful." (William Inge, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Four plays, Random House, 1958, p. 283). The darkest night needs the clearest proclamation of Jesus.
Illustrate these texts with episodes from one's own ministry. Whom have you walked by in the daily routine of your ministry and what did God lead you to say unto them? The child crying from being teased, the teenager angry at not being allowed to be more independent, the one on a sick bed facing the wall, and the parent with no time for his or her children, all need to hear "Look at us!" to stop them in their tracks. Having done that, one's next words need to be "Jesus being preached." When has His Word come to others through your words? Consider sharing what you feel it means for Jesus "to be preached" in your personal ministry. Take the risk of sharing missed opportunities also. "I wish I had said" can become the courage to "say" next time.
John Wesley sent his preachers to America with the admonition: Offer them Christ. "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give unto you." proclaimed Simon Peter. One has Christ in one's life for only one purpose: to share Him with a lost world. He is not there to make one feel better about one's petty sins, but to enlarge our hearts until we speak of Him to everyone one knows. Dr. Ben May 4, 2003—3rd Sunday of Easter Carson when he spoke at the Grand Theater in Fitzgerald, Georgia, said, "A victim walking through sand looks down and sees desert, a victor sees the ingredients for building a castle." The difference is that one is trying to finish and the other cannot wait to start. Peter and John, John Wesley, and each one who follows the Christ must continue to offer them Christ. Wesley on his death bed said," Best of all, God is with us." Christ Jesus is with us "to be preached." It is too wonderful to fully understand, but when one gets out of His way and gives air to his Gospel, the world is not the same. People long crippled rise up and walk.
The theologian, Moltmann, in his work The Crucified God, postulated that Jesus only can be found where He said He would be. The four places are: 1, In the heart of a person who has asked Him into his heart; 2. Where two or three are gathered in His name to worship Him; 3. In the needy person coming to us; 4. At the right hand of God. This means that in any encounter with another person there is the possibility of encountering Jesus. Jesus is to be preached as present. It does matter. In the novel, Bridge Over the River Kwai, people are dying in the concentration camp. The strong are stealing the food from the weak. The able are stealing the blankets from the disabled on the bitter cold nights. Then one day as they load up to go back to the camp, after a day of working on the bridge, the guard says that a shovel is missing and that he will kill everybody, if the one who lost it does not step forward. A man named Gordon steps out and is bludgeoned into the ground. His dead body is thrown into the back of the truck with the other men. On the way back to camp the men recount the shovels and there is not one missing! Gordon had not lost his shovel. He had died for them. What had been a concentration camp became a cathedral. Food was shared with the weak. Blankets were given to the feverish. No one else died in the camp. It all happened when Jesus came in the form of a brother laying down his life for his friends.
One of the boldest statements in the new Testament is Simon Peter's statement to the lame beggar," Look at us!" Anyone can say," Pray to God." or "I'll pray for you.", but the lesson is crystal clear. Until Jesus has control of one's heart the proclamation, "Look at us!" will result in the one being addressed only seeing us and then turning away. People are supposed to see Jesus in each Christian. Rather than theology, sermons, and tiring conversations about good and evil, one is to live so that questions of life and praxis can be addressed not just in theory, but in one's life. "Look at us! " is not a statement of pride or arrogance, rather, it is a statement of faith in God's ability to use ordinary people like Peter and John...and like us.
Top of Page prayers (WorshipAid)
Leader: Christ is risen!
People: Alleluia! We are called to be witnesses to his power.
Leader: Christ is alive!
People: Alleluia! We are called to be witnesses to his love.
Leader: Christ is alive!
People: Alleluia! We are called to sing and celebrate his name.
Leader: "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
People: Because our faith is weak and we are consumed by so many concerns—bills to pay; the health of our bodies; the threat of war and terror in our land.
Leader: "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
People: Because we seek solutions in other places than in you, O Lord—our checkbooks and credit cards; our miracle pills and Sunday morning workouts; our bigger, smarter bombs and powerful armies.
Leader: "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
People: Because we fear the powers of this world more than we stand in awe of you, who put down the powers of evil and death.
All: In the name of the Resurrected One we pray:
Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ have mercy on us!
Lord. Have mercy on us!
What can we give to you for the incredible gift of life eternal gained for us by your Son, Lord God? Nothing, because everything is yours. Nothing. Except perhaps our hearts, symbolized by these gifts that we bring to your table. Amen.
Gracious God, whose power raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, we come to you as your Resurrection People, giving you thanks for the many gifts bestowed on us. For family and friends; work and leisure; our church; and a nation in which we can worship freely; and most of all, for the love of your Son that never gives up on us, we praise your name, O God. Once more we have come into this your house to hear your word, sing your praises, and pledge ourselves anew to your Son's mission. We pray that as individuals and as a community we might live up to your call to promote justice and bring about reconciliation in every sphere of life. We bring to you our concerns as well as our thanksgiving: heal those who are sick of body or mind, and when this does not fit within your plan of things, send your Spirit to comfort and guide those who call upon you in their extremity. We pray for the homeless and friendless, that their needs might be met. Guide all those who minister to the needy and the overlooked, that the former might not become discouraged, and that those they help might learn of your loving care. Guide our President, as well as the heads of all nations, that they might seek peace, rather than power, justice, rather than glory. We ask this in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.