Thursday, April 20, 2017

EASTER- a season

Easter Day around here was magnificent; it always is. The music is phenomenal. The love, the grace are wonderful. The release of butterflies beautiful. And, it's one big, great, celebration. What's not to like? Then, it's over. Well, not exactly.

Often we treat Easter the way we treat Christmas. At Christmas, we start celebrating Christmas at Thannksgiving. But, the church gives us Advent to prepare us for the celebration. And, we think it's over on Christmas day, but it goes for 12 days until Epiphany, when the Wise men/Magi visit Jesus with gifts. In the same way, Lent prepares us for Easter, and then Easter comes with beauty. But, Easter Season lasts for 50 days. We call it the Great Fifty Days of Easter.

This is the time when Jesus appeared to the disciples and others, over 500 people before he ascended into heaven. So, the scriptures of the church guide us in working out what it means for us to be Easter people, and an Easter Church. To be Easter people is not just to celebrate on one day, but it is to live every day as an expression of our faith in the Risen Christ. If Jesus is alive, then our lives show it.

It's always interested me that the church gives us in the lectionary John 20: 19ff for the first Sunday after Easter. It's that great story in John in which the disciples are meeting together on the evening of Easter. The women have told the disciples that Jesus is alive, but they aren't sure. Thomas voices what they all must have been feeling. He says: "I will not believe unless I see for myself, unless I put my hands in his wounds."

Few of us get the results that Thomas gof. The next week, the disciples are together again and Jesus comes, through locked doors. Jesus most always comes through locked doors. He offers himself to the group, but especially Thomas. Thomas is overwhelmedby the presence of the Risen Christ, so much so that we don't know if he actually touched Jesus' wounds or not.

He falls down and says: "It's really you; my Lord and my God." Jesus then breathes on them and says: "Receive the Holy Spirit." Recelve the Spirit as my constant presence with you form now on.

She came to me after a worship service one day and said: "Do you ever have doubts?" I answered: "Yes." And, it started a conversation about the meaning of doubt and faith. How they can be partners and not enemies...

I mean: if you doubt, you're thinking and working it through and taking it seriously enough to struggle with it. It's too important to gloss over or ignore. It's life. We see; we believe. We trust sometimes when we don't or can't see. We move forward in faith even when we aren't sure.

I'm glad that Thomas is there for us. We all doubt, even after the big day. But, as we doubt, the Risen Christ comes to us too and breathes the Spirit for us.

Ask yourself: As Easter people, what does that look like as we live our lives?

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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