The Power of Easter, Part 2

April 23, 2006

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

Jesus Appears to Thomas

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our sermon this morning is going to take a different form. Itís going to take a form I call Ďmusic and the spoken word.í Iíll be doing a lot of the sermon from the piano.

 

[Pastor Tony playing the blues on the piano.] It strikes me that in this morningís gospel reading, we heard somebody really singing the blues. If we could put what he said into a song, it might sound something like this:

 

[Pastor Tony singing the blues]

 

I just canít believe it.

I canít believe itís true.

I just canít believe it.

I canít believe itís true.

You canít say that He has been here,

But thatís the truth according to you.

 

I just gotta put my finger

Into the mark of the nail.

I just gotta put my finger

Into the mark of the nail.

And if I cannot do that,

I will just weep and wail.

 

I just gotta put my hand

Into His precious side.

I just gotta put my hand

Into His precious side.

And if I canít do that,

Well, friends, Iím just gonna run and hide.

 

ĎCause all I can deal with

Is what my two eyes can see.

All I can deal with

Is what my two eyes can see.

And I tell you, if I canít touch Him

Itís just not good enough for me.

 

Well, you say Heís been here

And now all your fears are gone.

Well, you say Heís been here

And gone are all your fears.

But until I see and touch Him,

Iíve nothing left but my fears.

 

Thatís the Doubtiní Thomas Blues. Yes, I think thatís what our friend in the gospel is talking about.

 

Let me tell you a little about what happened that morning. The disciples were all gathered about, and they were scared. They were terribly scared. You see, the Lord had died, and He had risen. Some had seen Him, but they were scared. They felt abandoned and lonely; they didnít know what to do.

 

So they locked themselves in a room to protect themselves from what might happen. And lo and below, that Sunday morning, even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, ďPeace be to you, friends. Iím here.Ē And they were overjoyed. They hugged Him. They were so thrilled to see Him again.

 

But one person wasnít there. His name was Thomas.

 

Now, where do you think he was? I suspect Thomas wasnít there because he was grieving. He was off grieving, all by himself. I think the first thing we should do this morning is have an extra bit of respect for Thomas. His first name wasnít ďDoubting.Ē I like to call him St. Thomas. He really was a saint. 

 

Jesus said, in the gospel of John, ďIn this world, you have tribulation.Ē He said that. He recognized that. ďIn this world, you have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.Ē Jesus is saying, ďI donít want to minimize your trouble; it is real.Ē Thatís why I think we should give St. Thomas a little break.

 

St. Thomas was sensitive. So are you. He was a person who was broken-hearted. He loved Jesus so much. He was a scientist. He wanted to prove everything. He wanted to touch things. He wanted repeatable, dependable proof of things. He wanted to see and touch before he believed. Thereís nothing wrong with science. It teaches us so much about Godís world. Thomas was a sensible, practical guy. So the first thing we need to do is give him a little break. Thereís a lot of Thomas in each of us.

 

But thereís no question about it: Thomas sang the blues. [Pastor Tony plays the blues on the piano.] Thereís more to the story than that, though. To that blue note, God added Easter power. You see, on that resurrection day, when they all thought everything would be dark, everything would be Ďgood-byeí, they went to the garden and Jesus said Ďhelloí. [Pastor Tony playing piano as he speaks Ė soft, upbeat music.] Jesus has good news in the face of our bad news. Jesus has a yes where we thought there was only a no, and a hello where we thought there was only a good-bye. And so, itís as though the will of God sings this song:

 

[Pastor Tony plays and sings.]

 

This is my Fatherís world.

And to my listening ears

All nature sings and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

 

This is my Fatherís world.

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; Let the earth be glad!

 

[Pastor Tony still playing piano.] So in this world you do have tribulation, but God has another answer. God says, ďI have overcome this world.Ē And so, we have Easter power. You know what Easter power is, my friends? Easter power is Godís yes. Thatís the good news. Thatís the Easter power. Godís word is yes.

 

And so, to the tribulations in your life, friends, I want you to please remember that God has a yes in store for you. There are more good things coming your way than you could possibly imagine or count. Thatís the good news of Easter. Thatís what Easter power is about.

 

So there are the worldís tribulations, but then thereís Godís power of yes. And we have a choice. You know, in almost everything we have a choice. There are very few things I can think of where we canít choose our attitude about things. We canít always choose the circumstances that come our way, but we can always choose our attitude about how weíre going to deal with them.

 

Poet, author and blues singer Maya Angelou wrote her autobiography and titled it ďI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.Ē Isnít that a wonderful title? You may be a caged bird at the moment in some way in your life, but you can still sing. And so the question is this: when you go to play the tracks on the CD of your life, what are you going to choose? The blues? Or Godís good news? You can choose it. You can choose Godís good news. And you can sing,

 

[Pastor Tony singing]

 

Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely

And long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion.

My constant friend is He.

 

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

 

I sing because I'm happy,

I sing because I'm free;

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

 

So, the next Sunday, that very next Sunday, the disciples were all gathered together. This time, Thomas was with them. [Piano crescendo begins, music grows] And into the room appeared Jesus. They were amazed. And Jesus said, ďPeace be to you. Thomas, come here. Thomas, my dear friend, come here and put your finger into the mark of the nail. Come here and thrust your hand into my side. Be not doubting, but believe.Ē

 

[Pastor Tony plays piano throughout.]

 

And Thomas said, ďMy Lord and my God.Ē

 

Jesus said, ďHey, Thomas, you believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who havenít seen and yet believe.Ē Say, friend, thatís you and me. We havenít seen with our physical eyes and bud of evidence of His presence, but we believe in our hearts. And that makes us blessed.

 

What does blessed mean? Blessed means spiritually fulfilled. Thatís Jesusís blessing to you. Not to doubt, but to have a little faith. And having faith, youíve got Easter power.

 

[Pastor Tony playing and singing]

 

I sing because Iím happy.

I sing because Iím free.

For His eye is on the sparrow.

And I know He watches me.

 

So thereís no two ways about it. In this world we have tribulation, and sometimes we sing

 

[Pastor Tony singing]

 

Nobody knows the trouble Iíve seen.

Nobody knows my sorrow.

Nobody knows the trouble Iíve seen.

Glory, hallelujah.

 

You see, it ends with ďglory, hallelujah.Ē The troubles are not the end of the song. Godís word is yes, and thatís the best word.

 

I sing because Iím happy.

I sing because Iím free.

For His eye is on the sparrow.

And I know He watches me.

For His eye is on the sparrow.

And I know He watches me.

 

You have a choice of the blues or the good news. Choose Godís good news, because He loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski