Mother Katherine’s sermon preached on Apr. 14, 2024

Posted by on Sun, Apr 14, 2024 in Easter, Sermons

The Third Sunday of Easter

Apr. 14, 2024

Where have you and I known the risen Christ, and do we believe it is so when we see him? Eastertide’s readings are filled with appearances of Jesus, beginning with the resurrection appearance on Easter itself. Today is another, and it includes reference to two more, and each time Jesus appears to them with what they need. “Peace be with you” he says today. He addresses their doubts and invites faith by means they can be sure of. Touch my hands, see my feet, feel my wounds, walk with me, know me in the locked room and when I breathe on you, eat the blessed broken bread with me, watch as I eat fish which ghosts and angels cannot do

Once despairing they now see the possibility of hope dawning before them. Jesus recognizes this openness and takes it further by giving them new insight into scripture, and teaching them “the Messiah’s route to glory passes through suffering and death.” And through suffering into resurrection. He is showing them they will carry his message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, “to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” He says, “You are witnesses of these things.” 

Here is why I included that added verse from Luke today; The risen Christ does not stop with their being eye-witnesses. To see even such as this is not enough; they are called to greater things still. Here Jesus gives them the last words he will say before he ascends; “And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Until clothed with power from on high. What does that look like? We hear what this meant for the apostles, and will continue doing so in our readings from the Acts of the Apostles through Eastertide. Those readings will lead to the story of Pentecost five weeks from now. 

I began by asking where we’ve met the risen Christ and did we believe it. What does it look like for us to be closed with power from on high? It is to know we have encountered resurrection as his disciples, and so knowing, believing, we are invited to live into it. When Jesus says they will be clothed with power from on high, the literal word is to sink into that clothing, to put it on and be fully enveloped in God’s vestment for us.

It is a step further than acknowledging we are people of faith, it is a step that accepts and receives the power of it, and with it we go forth, not only as eyewitnesses, but by sharing it. By being willing participants in the living Christ such that even without words an immersive trust in God is evident and part of who we have become. We share a path.

In telling the story of his recovery from alcoholism, a man (I’ll call him Ted) speaks of how long he dodged and denied it. When he finally began treatment it included visits with a psychologist. It was all the usual questions at first, then at some point he was asked to identify some pictures, retell a story, and draw a house, a tree, a person. He did so, and still not wanting to be thought of as a total shell of a messed up addict he made the tree leafy and fruitful, the person nondescript, and the house cute and snug, including smoke coming out of the chimney. 

The therapist studied it a while and silently made some notes… Ted says it was the house that got him in trouble, because the therapist seized on the fact that although it had windows and a door, there was no doorknob. He concluded there was not much chance of people ever getting in to reach this fellow or of him willingly entering into the group treatment program. Ted figured it was more evidence he was a complete loss. 

He stuck it out though, and kept listening. He learned addicts don’t ordinarily let people get close to their inner selves or on a very honest intimate level. He met others like him who, being hurt early on, kept far enough back to make sure it didn’t happen again. He described how hopelessly unreachable he felt, but his sponsor said to keep coming back even so. Let us love you until you can learn to love yourself. Over time he formed a bond with others like himself, a growing belief in the possibility of sobriety as a way of life as he returned week after week. Somewhere along the line he said, something had changed. His focus shifted from denial and self protection to wanting more and listening for it. He said he finally found in this community the faith and courage ‘to open his door from the inside.’

Consider this story alongside Luke’s gospel today. The disciples are gathered together and still unconvinced. They heard of Jesus’ resurrection from Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and did not believe the “idle tale.” Now two disciples say they just met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, telling how they knew him in the blessing and breaking of the bread together. Can they believe it now? Before they can answer they are “startled and terrified” as Jesus comes to stand among them, saying (paradoxically), “Peace be with you.” 

They doubt their own eyes, and he assuages their fears, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Jesus’ invitation to touch his wounds is how they know the courage or willingness to dare to think their greatest hope might actually be true; that he is truly risen and is wholly with them in this new way.

I didn’t tell Ted’s story because I think we all suffer from addiction or draw our emotional houses without doorknobs. I’m telling it because his struggle can be part of human nature, especially when it comes to our trust and faith in God. It reminds us that fear and doubt can sometimes lead us to open the doorway to faith. Ted said that Resurrection stories were hard for some people to believe, but “for alcoholics and addicts who’ve already been declared hopeless or written off for being as good as dead – well, we specialize in resurrections!” Ted bragged. “We see dead people coming back to life every day of the week and twice on Sundays!” 

We find Eastertide’s readings are filled with appearances of Jesus, beginning with the resurrection itself. In all of them there is some mystical or un-earthly element to them and yet also a very ordinary real-time aspect. The gardener, an angel, a ghost? He’s a stranger they don’t know, he eats with them, he’s on the road with them… Jesus arrives in the regular moments of their lives as they grieve or gather, weep or walk. He speaks to fears even as he brings peace. He calls us to new life too and our acceptance can find us stepping forth in ways we never expected and doing things we thought we couldn’t. In finding Jesus’ resurrection something changes in us too.

Will it answer all our questions? Certainly not, nor do we give up asking. It doesn’t solve all our problems and obstacles, though there is nothing we cannot look at through the hope of resurrection. It won’t take care of the next election for us, end wars, feed hungry people, or mean that everything is fine — we know full well it is not. To be a resurrection people means we live it each day, and when we’re faced with that choice in things big and small we can endure together those places of pain and brokenness around us—perhaps even act on them. Resurrection faith means more than us getting all we ask for; instead we are surprised by what might be and how God acts through us. Christ meets us in this life and in the next, and will not leave us comfortless or alone on this journey. Amen.

© 2024 The Rev. Katherine Sedwick. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

Post will be removed at 8:00 PM on Tue., Apr. 14, 2026.