Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, April 23, 2017, Easter 2, Year A, John 20:19-31
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Amen.
Good morning, St. Philip’s! Happy Easter!!!!!
I hope that your first week of feasting in this great 50 day season of Easter was productive and full of celebration, if not, no worries, you still have FIVE more weeks of Easter to get your feast on! I love it how our liturgical calendar sets us up with a 40 day Lenten fast followed by a 50-day Easter feast.
And that’s how all of the fasting seasons, the seasons of preparation, are set up. Fast then feast. Prepare then celebrate. Do then be.
Both require a lot of planning, a lot of work, a lot of time cultivating space within our hearts to receive the blessings of each day. But it’s good work to do. Holy work. Reconciling work.
This past week I indulged with a few episodes of my favorite podcast on the internet: On Being. Both episodes had something to do with relationships. Relationships with God and with one another, and really, relationship with all of the creation.
In one of the episodes from On being, Krista Tippett was talking with her guest Fr. Richard Rohr, about this notion of “Deep Time”.
He spoke about the Greek notion of time in the New Testament.
That there are two words for time, Chronos, and Kairos.
Chronos is the chronological time, the finite bound experience of 24 hours, 365 days, month to month, year to year. But Kairos is this notion of “deep time.” When you receive the often rare, at least for me, moment when you experience “there’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be,” or the “this is perfect,” or the “this sums it all up…”
In seminary, we talked about this kind of time being experienced in our liturgy. Where the Eucharistic phrase, “in the fullness of time” reminds us of this deep time we have entered into when we gather in this space.
Richard Rohr, as he was speaking, was reminding me of the gift that is contemplation. He defines contemplation as the ability “to learn to trust deep time and to learn how to rest there and not be wrapped up in chronological time.” He differentiated it, drawing on the desert fathers and mothers, from “Prayer” as the function of what we “do” when we talk to God or tell God something. He says that contemplation gives us access to a deeper way of being present. He says, “It’s a different form of consciousness. It’s a different form of time.”
So, in a way, the church, in her 2,000 plus year history, has cultivated a way for us to access this deep time, to contemplate the mysteries of our faith. Through the liturgical acts, we repeat over and over, through the stories we hear over and over, through the songs we sing over and over…
We are creating and accessing “deep time” here. The ‘living hope’ as the 1st letter of Peter to the church in Rome said in this morning’s lesson. Or in how we can take a deep breath when we heard Jesus say to his disciples, a second time, “Peace be with you.”
When Jesus appeared to his disciples being locked doors, remember that this was the same day that Mary had run to them with the Good News of Christ’s resurrection, that we read last week. She told them, “I have seen the Lord.”
And yet they were gathered in fear, behind locked doors. Jesus appeared to them and immediately showed them the proof of his execution, the wounds in his hands and in his side. He reminded them of how they abandoned him on the cross but that it’s ok. “Peace be with you.” That peace that means, “reconciliation.”
Jesus doesn’t shame any of them for leaving, for cowering behind locked doors, for hiding. He simply restores them by pronouncing the peace that only he can give.
Which is why we “pass the peace” every Sunday. We are reenacting reconciliation that Christ first modeled with his disciples with those words. We are re-proclaiming peace in the midst of the chaos of our lives, that we are reconciled. We are creating space for each and every one of us to breathe peace on one another, to be reconciled. It’s such an important part of what we practice that in some Episcopal Churches it’s the part of the liturgy that breaks open. The band starts playing, kids are dancing in the isles, they celebrate the joy of being in right relationship with God and with each other. The offertory doesn’t start until everyone has had a chance to pass the peace with everyone. God is inviting us to spread peace like a contagious disease!
But they didn’t recognize him at first. Remember?
It was only after they saw his scars that they believed. So he had to repeat the peace.
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Reconciliation is an ongoing process, friends. We forgive ourselves and one another, over and over and over again. And when we can pass peace to one another, we can see the image of God in our brother or sister and receive the gift of contemplation…of that deep moment when we say, “this is as perfect as it can be.”
And we strive for this moment. We work hard for that reconciliation. We submit ourselves to the vulnerable act of being seen by another human.
We admit our powerlessness over really anything and see the gift that we each are to one another, with our idiosyncrasies and quirks, with our missteps and fumbles, with our successes and joys.
When we receive it, when we accept the gift of Christian community, we have the power to change the world.
So Happy Easter… May there be continued resurrection in your life and in mine…
may you and I be witnesses of that new life…
and may we be the ones who declare God’s peace in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”