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READING: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31|
COLLECTFor Second Sunday of Easter; also known as Low Sunday (from the fact of low attendance after the crowds of the High Holy Days); or as 'Quasimodogeniti Sunday' (from the Introit: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word." In Latin: "Quasi modo geniti infantes: rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupiscite." [1 Peter 2:2].)
"With Great Power"
In this passage we see a radical extension of the truth that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God and is for sharing with others as we and they have need. The impulse to live this truth in reality seems to come out of a new understanding of who we are in light of the Resurrection. It is written that the believers were, "one in heart and soul.." Do we get to experience this "oneness" in the communities we belong to? In our families? What would or does "oneness" look like for us in our days?
Emboldened to speak fearlessly, the apostles proclaimed the Resurrection "with great power." A few verses earlier the text refers to signs and wonders being performed through Jesus' name. Do we proclaim the Resurrection "with great power" and is our testimony accompanied by "signs and wonders" in Jesus' Name? How anemic is our evangelism? Does it need a transfusion?
"And great grace was upon them all..." What signs of grace are present in our midst? I think we need to talk more about this kind of grace, the grace of unity and oneness, the grace of blessing and sharing, the grace of holy boldness.
The anointing oil, in glad celebration, with exuberance and joy is poured out extravagantly upon the head. It is warm and aromatic and runs down the face into the beard and into the collar of the robes. It is rich and sensual. No one minds. It is a sign of favour. It is an occasion for great happiness. This psalm is rich in its imagery. It is so much easier to catch the joy of "oneness" that is celebrated here with these pictures. The early morning dew on the mountainsides of Zion, the holy hills, before the sun burns through the mists, waters the ground, dazzles on the spiderwebs; this morning dew, speaks of the richness of God's blessing. The blessing of unity. This unity is more than just families dwelling in harmony together, it is a sign pointing to a larger promise; the promise of "life forevermore."
1 John 1:1-2:2
From my first introduction at age twelve to the Book of Common Prayer's Holy Communion service, I was struck by the formula used after the Confession and Absolution and before the Eucharistic prayer. That formula was known as the "comfortable words." There were four statements (see also: Matthew 11:28; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15) from scripture begun by the words: "Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him...." The last of the four statements used was, "Hear also what Saint John saith. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins."
I was struck by these words and after almost forty years they are still very much a part of who I am. They are still "comfortable words." I have an Advocate, a lawyer, in the heavenlies. He is Jesus Christ the Righteous (as opposed to Charlene the Unrighteous). He is the propitiation, the "atoning sacrifice" for my sins. Not only that but he is ALSO - the propitiation, the "atoning sacrifice" - for "the sins of the whole world." Okay world. Hear what comfortable words Saint John says!
John 20:19-20 and John 20:24-29
EASTER THOUGHTS"Now The Green Blade Rises"
John M. S. Crum, 1928; Music: Medieval French Carol; from the Oxford Book of Carols; Oxford University Press
A beautiful little Easter carol with a haunting melody proclaims the Resurrection. Everywhere I look on my walks I see greenery. Green shoots on the forest floor, green buds on the trees and - miracle of miracles - I can even hear the grass grow! The growing grass pushes up the old dead leaves and, at night, when it is quieter, I can hear this living phenomemon.
The rising green blades proclaim to me, with a vividness I never really appreciated so deeply until now, the Resurrection. I have died with Christ in Baptism and my life is "hid with Christ in God." But, like the grass blades pushing up against the detritus of dead leaves, my spirit is also rising up. I feel the well of living water rising within me. Like the disciples, I too, am experiencing just a little disorientation in these, the first days of my new life. But I am so high on "love is come again like wheat arising green" that it is a wondrous bewilderment!
I bring in to this Easter season the conviction that my life has radically altered. And I thank God!
copyright - Charlene E. Fairchild - Spirit Networks 2000 - 2006
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