April 18, 2021 3rd Sunday of Easter
Miraculous God, come to us now, even as your Son came to those first disciples on the shores of Galilee. Speak your peace to our hearts. Touch us with your Holy Spirit. Reveal your word, that we may hear your message this day, and live as your disciples in the days and years to come.
*indicates that congregation should stand, if able
*CALL TO WORSHIP (read responsively)
Leader: Christ, God’s gift to the world, shall come:
People: For those who feel despair will know hope.
Leader: For those who are oppressed will know freedom
People: For those who are lonely will know love.
Leader: For those who are suffering will know inner peace.
People: O Christ, Lord of the world, your time is now!
All: Fill our hearts with joy!
*PRAYER OF CONFESSION (unison)
Risen Lord Jesus, what is it that keeps us from recognizing you? Often we are so full of ourselves that it’s easy to block you right out of our lives. Maybe it’s the way we interpret Scripture that obscures the signs pointing to you. Perhaps we are guilty of being slow of heart when we don’t recognize you in our neighbor, or in the guise of the poor or the dispossessed. Our eyes and ears have become so crammed with the sights and sounds of living that we simply fail to see you or to recognize your voice. Risen Lord Jesus, help us to empty ourselves of all that hinders our awareness of your presence with us. Fill us with the joy of knowing your continuing presence, so that, like those travelers on the road to Emmaus, we too, hasten to share this great good news with others. Amen.
*APOSTLES’ CREED OF OUR FAITH & BELIEF (unison)
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*HYMN: “Standing on the Promises” vs. 1 & 4 (brown) 147
NEW TESTAMENT LESSON: Acts 3:12-19 Pew Bible p. 911
L: This is the Word of God for the people of God.
P: Thanks be to God.
SHARING OF JOYS AND CONCERNS
*Prayer of Thanksgiving
*SERMON TEXT: Luke 24:36-48 Pew Bible p. 885
MESSAGE (see below)
Pastor Steve Swigart
*HYMN: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” vs. 1 & 3 (brown) 145
*CLOSING PRAYER (unison)
Lord, let my whole heart be inflamed with love for you; let nothing in me belong to me and let me have no thought for myself; let me burn and be wholly consumed in you; let me love you with my whole being as one set on fire by you. Amen.
Timing Is Everything
Luke 24: 36 – 48
The disciples find themselves in a precarious situation. They likely are not sure about Jesus being with them, they may not have a positive vision of their future, and they may not be sure about what to do next. Jesus comes and goes from their lives after the resurrection, and it may be difficult for them to simply move ahead without him with them as it was before.
Jesus becomes the voice of calm for the disciples when he does appear among them. He begins with “peace be with you.” This is not meant to be a simple greeting like “hi, how are you?” He truly means for peace to upon them and not to worry about what will come next. Jesus eats with them to show that he has returned in his physical body. He is not simply a spirit among them.
It is important for the disciples to know that Jesus has fully returned to them to give them the assurance to know that he would always be with them either physically or spiritually. Either way, they are not alone. But the big event that now needs to occur is their going forth into the world for Jesus Christ. For this to happen, we needed the crucifixion, and we needed the resurrection.
The crucifixion was necessary because Jesus was to be the sacrifice of the perfect lamb of God. It was to mirror the sacrifice of the perfect lamb in Egypt so the angel of death would pass over the homes of the Israelites. Also, the sacrifice of Christ as the perfect lamb mirrors the animal sacrifice that occurs in the old testament for repentance of sin. Jesus’ crucifixion allows the angel of death to pass over us and allows for the forgiveness and repentance of our sins.
The resurrection was necessary to show the power of God even over death. God is greater than all things and not even the angels of hell can stop the love of God from acting for mankind. The resurrection of Christ proves the power of God as seen in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The risen Lord is real as demonstrated by the touch of His side by Thomas and the eating of the fish by Christ.
Hiding in the Upper Room is not a long-term solution. The upper room may have provided a place for security for Jesus and the disciples to share the Passover Seder Meal and the first Christian communion by the representation of the body and blood of Christ, and it provided a place of safe haven following the crucifixion. However, it certainly was not meant for long-term security and seclusion. The word of Christ and the Christian experience is not meant to be kept in seclusion. It is meant to be expressed loud and clear for all to hear as an invitation to come and be part of this new experience. Hiding in the upper room was not going to get the word of God to the people, but there was more needed to help the disciples and for this reason their time to go into all the world had not yet come.
Timing is everything. Jesus reassured the disciples and offered peace to be with them. He also told them that power would come to them and that they had to wait for this to occur. They would not be sent out alone but with the power of the Holy Spirit as their advocate to give them strength and support in their discipleship journey. The power of the Holy Spirit is the strength that sustains them and sustains us. Jesus told them to wait for this time to occur… for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. He asks them to be patient.
I know that patience is a virtue, and I believe it to be a virtue that at times I may be lacking. I tend to be a man of action, of doing, of task completion. Although this is not a bad characteristic generally, there are times when waiting may be the better choice. For the disciples, waiting was the better thing as it enhanced their ministry.
Waiting on the Lord is what we are called to do. Seeking His guidance and direction in our lives. Praying involves requests on our part, but also listening for and seeking the will of God. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait and listen.
When I find myself in conflict over something and not sure what to do or say, I discover that sometimes the best action for the moment is no action. The best results may come in time but not at this time. Like the disciples, we wait, we watch, we listen. No clear thought may mean it’s not time yet for a solution.
There is wisdom in waiting and listening and holding fast. But then comes the time to move and act. Acting too soon can be a waste of time and can end up badly. On the other hand, there is a phrase called “analysis paralysis.” It means that we take so long to ponder and analyze that we never act. We become paralyzed by our analysis and end up doing nothing. Contemplation is important, but so is action. At some point we need to act.
Speaking too soon before the full situation is known may result in wrong things said and hurt feelings from misunderstandings that didn’t have to occur.
Wait on the Lord and listen for His guidance. Take the time to seek his wisdom and ponder the correct action.
Seek to understand before attempting to be understood.
These are all good things to improve a situation or to make it better in the end for all.
Wait upon the Lord each day and seek his guidance and wisdom now and forever.