Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Peace Be With You

“Peace Be With You”
 John 20:21-22

            Jesus appeared to the disciples only a few time before he ascended into heaven. But each time he stated to the disciples ‘Peace be with you.” How difficult it is for us to understand this peace when we know of news events which are not filled with peace, but with destruction and hatred.
            A joyous celebration normally awaits every participant when they approach the finish line of a marathon. But in Boston, participants were quickly escorted away from bombs which had exploded and left three people dead. One of the individuals died soon after and the second person responsible for these bombs has now been arrested. Why did they do this? Power? Money? Greed? No one seems to know.
            A VIA rail train in Toronto is stopped by RCMP officers with their knowledge of a possible attack with the intension of killing hundreds of individuals. Why?
            Schools are put on lockdown because of a bomb threat or intruder present. What is happening with our communities, our cities our way of life? Where is peace?
            Jesus told the disciples that He is the way, the truth and the life. He is also the Source of all Peace. But how can we have peace in the midst of these attacks, threats and bombs in places where people gather to go about their daily routines? How does one acknowledge that peace is possible when there are people threatening and killing lives of innocent? One must have faith and believe that there is more to life on this earth. And this is the basis of our faith. Knowing that Jesus will bring peace in our hearts and minds if we but trust in him.
            Jesus also told his disciples on the beach while they had breakfast that he loved them. He also told Peter to “Take care of my sheep.” We need to be reminded of how we take care of each other in Jesus’ name. WE need to remember that through Jesus peace is possible not only in our hearts- but in our world and we need to care for each other with the love of Christ.
            In the midst of terrorist attacks, threats and bombings; babies are born, flowers grow and bloom and life continues. How we equip ourselves to face these situations is a matter of faith and knowledge and of acting out this love of Jesus with others.
            Let us continue to pray for peace.   

Peaceful God of hope we pray for those whose lives have been affected by terrorist acts and destruction. WE pray for healing of those caught in the midst of explosions and uncertainty of life. We pray O God for peace and know in our hearts that it is possible but only through you and with us as your hands and feet on this earth.
Bring us your peace as Jesus gave it to his disciples. Enable us to take care of your people and help us to discern in our hearts the ability to live and laugh and be who you have intended us to be. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
At this moment, what do you think should happen to those accused of threatening riders on the VIA train? What do you think we should do as faithful Christians as we strive to bring peace to all people?
Have you found your peace today?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Making Our Joy Complete

Making Our Joy Complete
I John 1:4-8

            “I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart—down in my heart to stay”
 These are the words of a favourite children’s song which emphasizes a heartfelt ideal of the joy of knowing Jesus and being really happy in living one’s life in His way.
But do we really know the joy of the Lord? And what makes our joy complete? Jesus.
He is the one who was from the beginning, heard, seen, looked at, touched, and is the Word of Life. And this life is Jesus whom God raised from death. But we must ask, do you believe in this Word of Life so much that you have complete joy? Do you believe that Jesus within you brings you joy?
            What obstacles do you face which might deter you from having complete joy?
1)      not walking in the light of God—but in darkness
2)      free from sin/ know no sin- not true to ourselves—we all sin and go against Christ’s teaching because we are humans who have the gift of thinking and choosing alternatives.
3)      lie about not ever sinning—we are hypocritical. The church is made up of sinners who seek forgiveness in God through Jesus Christ. Each of us must make that first step of knowing we will sin again but can seek forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Our joy will only be complete when we walk in the light, when we confess our sins and when we admit that we do sin and are willing to confess/ admit it to God.
 Have you acknowledged your shortcomings your wrongdoings lately? Maybe this is why we need to look at who we are and what we do as people of faith and what those obstacles which prevent us from firmly knowing the joy of the Lord.  Maybe we need to find the joy in our lives and renew our faith in Jesus.
We praise you Holy God for giving to us joy in Jesus Christ for his death and resurrection enables us to  grow in faith and to be forgiven of all sin. We praise you God for the gift of joy, complete joy which we each strive to attain.
Enable us to know you and to love you as we seek to renew our joy in you. Amen.
At this moment, what is making you feel happy/ sad/ confused/ satisfied? Are you happy in your life, or worried and anxious? Where do you find the joy in your life? How do you renew this joy from Christ Jesus and is it possible to have fully and ultimate ‘complete’ joy?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Signs of Faith

“Signs of Faith”
John 20: 19-31

            Jesus first appeared to the disciples while they were together in a
locked room. However, not all the disciples were there. Thomas was doing something else but joined these friends later on that night. The disciples lived with fear from the Jews but when Jesus appeared he breathed on them and offered to them peace. They were overjoyed to see Jesus and were amazed as they looked at his hands, feet and side. He was truly alive.
He spoke with them for a while and left.
            Thomas joined the disciples and they told them about seeing Jesus but because he was not there he did not believe Jesus was really alive. Yes he had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, healing and listened to him speak for three years. But to believe that he was alive after dying such a cruel death- this pushed Thomas to the limit. He is named “Doubting Thomas” but he could also be complaining to the disciples that he felt left out, angry at Jesus for coming when he was not there and says that he would not believe without physical proof. Up until this time, this is what he had witnessed. Jesus doing something amazing and he had witnessed it. “Until I put my hands in his hands, touch his side, I will not believe it.”
            Thomas was able to do just that a week later when Jesus returned and visited with the disciples. He saw him, touched him and believed. And it is Jesus’ words that remind us all that Thomas needed to physically see Jesus to believe. Jesus says blessed are those who believe without seeing.
            Decades after these words were written, the last disciple died- those who had seen Jesus physically alive. Yet Jesus story continues to be shared- because of faith. How faithful are you to believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection? Are you telling others to have faith and believe?

Loving God we thank you that Jesus is alive and that through faith we have renewed our joy in Him. We often have doubts and are uncertain in our faith journey and so we pray that you would show us the way to believe again that Christ died for us so that we might have new life. Help us to stop doubting and believe. We ask in Jesus’ name for He is the Risen Christ. Amen.
Thomas needed to touch Jesus to believe that Jesus rose from death. Hundreds of years have passed since Jesus lived, died and rose from death. Our faith tells us that he is alive. What calls you to believe this? What are the signs of your faith that would indicate to others that you believe in Christ’s resurrection?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Joy in the Resurrection

“Joy in the Resurrection”
John 20: 18

            On the first day of the week Mary went early to the tomb with tears in her eyes with grief in her heart and worry in her mind.  She had tears because the one who was her teacher had died a cruel death on a cross. She was grieving because he had suffered so much as he died. She was worried because she did not know how she would be able to get into the tomb where his body lay to pour spices and creams on his body as was custom of her faith. A huge stone covered the entrance to the tomb.
            But then she arrived at the tomb—the stone was rolled away. She went to tell this to the disciples and they returned with her to check out the situation. They went into the tomb and saw linens where his body was placed. They left. She went in and saw angels who spoke with her about Jesus. And as she was crying again outside of the tomb she saw a man who was tending to the garden. She spoke to him not realizing who he was. But when He spoke her name, her tears were filled with joy, her grief was gone and her worry was to bring Him to the disciples. But she was filled with joy- Jesus was and is alive!
            What good news to share with the disciples.. I have seen the Lord.
            If we truly believe and have faith, we should be jumping up and down, smiling ear to ear and feeling the joy of Christ within us. But do we really feel this way about Jesus’ resurrection? Do we really have joy in Jesus’ resurrection story? Do we know the Risen Christ who brings us this joy?
            Easter is not just one day in our church year; it is a season lasting until Pentecost. But as Christians we actually celebrate Christ’s resurrection each time we worship together on a Sunday morning- we proclaim again and again- we are an Easter people because of the joy we have in knowing Jesus is alive. How do you share your Easter joy? And does it last more than a day or two?
            How do you share the joy of Jesus’ resurrection? Do you greet others with a smile? Do you have Christ’s Spirit flow to and from you with peace and love for others? Do you reach out and just smile and invite others to do the same?
            Mary responded to her name with such joy in knowing that Jesus was alive she wanted to hold on to him. But he said not to. She had to tell the disciples that He was/is alive. She had the joy of Christ because she believed in Christ’s resurrection. Do you?

Help us O God to truly understand the meaning behind Jesus’ resurrection. Help us to have the joy of Mary as she saw him alive and talking with her. Help us to experience this joy and then be able to share it. We ask in the name of the Risen Christ. Amen.

Do you believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus? This is a question that is highly debated and discussed and asks us whether Christ rose from death—bodily.
The Shroud of Turin is considered as the linen cloth Jesus left in the tomb separated from the other linen cloths after he rose from death. But simply we must ask- did Jesus physically rise from death= yes or no. And does this question matter if we truly have faith in Jesus fulfilling God’s promise of a Saviour? Is it necessary to our faith that Jesus rose from death and was physically seen by the disciples?