Worship for Sunday, April 18, 2021

Acts 3:12-19

[Peter] addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.”

“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause;
you set me free when I was in distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

“You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory;
how long will you love illusions and seek after lies?”

Know that the Lord does wonders for the faithful;
the Lord will hear me when I call.

Tremble, then, and do not sin;
speak to your heart in silence upon your bed. 

Offer the appointed sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.

Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?”
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when grain and wine abound.

In peace, I will lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me rest secure.  Amen.

1 John 3:1-7

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:36b-48

Jesus himself stood among [the disciples] and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Have you anything here to eat?” How many times have you heard this question? Only at your house it might sound more like – “What’s for supper?” or “Whose turn is it to cook this evening?” or “Do we have any ice cream?” or “Who ate the last slice of pizza?

“Have you anything here to eat?” This is the question our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ asks his beloved disciples after what must have been the longest – hardest – most   painful – confusing – and most mind meltingly wild week of the disciples’ lives.

And keep in mind these 11 men had already seen some pretty amazingly – stupendously impressive miracles during the 3 years they had spent with Jesus!   Seriously – they had seen Jesus walk on water and turn water into wine. The disciples had seen Jesus cast out demons and help blind people see.

But this past week – well – this past week – the disciples had experienced glorious moments of joy that took their breath away. And they had the wind knocked right out of them.

The beauty of the first Palm Sunday had been awesome. Huge crowds of people shouted Jesus’ praises – while boldly proclaiming Jesus was their Lord and Savior.

But then – just a few days later – came Judas’ shocking betrayal.   We all expect Judas to betray Jesus.   We know the betrayal is coming.   But imagine how the other disciples must have felt about Judas’ betrayal. Judas had been one of them! Judas had lived with them and worked with them and served with them.   Judas had been their friend – their brother! Judas didn’t just betray Jesus – Judas betrayed all of them!

And then came the horror of Jesus’ arrest. Followed quickly by the nightmare of Jesus’ trial – conviction – crucifixion and death.

Those painful events knocked the disciples to their knees.   Jesus was dead – and so were their own hopes and dreams for the future.

But then – just 3 days later – the women came back from Jesus’ grave with the wild – incredible news that Jesus was alive.

What a week it has been for the disciples!

There is so much for them to process. Feelings of sorrow and joy. Of fear and hope. Confusion and wonder.

And then – as they are all gathered together trying to make sense of all that has happened over the past week – Jesus comes to them himself

“Have you anything here to eat?” – Jesus asks his disciples . The very human humanness of this question stops me in my tracks every single time I encounter it.

“Have you anything here to eat?” – that is a question I can relate to. I understand this question. This question sounds so much like life at my house these days with two sons who seem to be growing faster than the speed of light. Seriously – so fast and so much eating!

“Have you anything here to eat?” Jesus asks his beloved – exhausted – confused – curious – awestruck disciples.

Food. Gathering around food. Feeding people. Eating and drinking together.   Cooking. Buying groceries. Comfort food.

This is something we have all done over and over and over again in times of crisis and pain and grief and suffering – isn’t it? It is how we try to make sense of the world when things don’t make much sense . . .

We have all gathered together around food.

“Have you anything here to eat?” Why yes – yes – we do.

We have gathered together for funeral lunches.

We have met for countless cups of coffee and heart to heart conversations.

We have shared our hearts over iced tea in camp chairs in the backyard or at the kids’ soccer game.

We have done the same thing over a couple of beers or bourbons and some barbeque.

Most of us have made a lasagna for a grieving friend or neighbor.

This is what we do. Or at least this is what we did before this pandemic year. Before Covid-19. And this is what we all long to do again.

We are just like Jesus and his disciples. After the worst week of their lives they longed to be together.   They longed for the comfort of each other. They longed for those who loved them and for those who would understand.

They longed for one another!

And after this long – hard – often exhausting – year of living in a world with Covid-19 and all that living through this pandemic has meant – we too long for one another. We long to see our sisters and brothers in Christ. We long for the comfort and the consolation of our church family

Soon – my sisters and brothers – soon. The time is coming. (Wear your masks and get those vaccines!)

And as we wait – I encourage you to reach out to one another.

No – a note or a phone call or a text or a card is not the same as a hug or a pat on the back or a long lingering conversation in the fellowship hall.

But a note is lovely. A phone call can be an incredible blessing. A text can be a wonderful reminder on a busy or a lonely day. A card means you have taken the time to share your love. An email is thoughtful. A phone call can be such a wonderful blessing!

Just because these things are different does not make them bad.   Or worthless. Or a waste of time.

Different is not bad or less valuable or less worthwhile. Different is just that. It is different.

We are called to love one another. We are called to nurture and support one another in the risen Christ’s name.

Share and show Christ’s love. Be kind. Be gracious. Be loving.

Reach out. Renew your relationships. Be Christian community to one another. Be sisters and brothers in Christ to one another. Be loving and supportive.

Even now as we wait to gather together in person – we can share and show God’s love. We can encourage one another. Console one another. Love one another. We can be sisters and brothers in Christ. Amen.

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