There are 3 kinds of seasons in the church year: Seasons of Preparation, Seasons of Celebrations, and the Season of Life.
The main and longest season is prosaically called Ordinary – yet this is such an ordinary name for the period of time which is all about growing as disciples and followers of Jesus. ⇒ takes up about 60% of the year. The other 2 main blocks are:
1. Advert-Christmas and
2. Lent- Easter.
These have a season of preparation and a season of prolonged celebration. Today we conclude the octave of Easter, a week of celebration lasting 8 days. (Octave)
Easter is not just about history: about the present + future. In the resurrection of Jesus, God has welcomed all creation – all people, times and seasons- into the glorious freedom of God’s children We always listen to this same Gospel each year – perhaps because we so clearly identify with the fear + confusion that looked the disciples behind closed doors. May we also long for the risen Lord to appear in our midst.
Easter – Octave Day (E2B). John 20:19-31
(Generated Transcript from Vigil)
Across the liturgical year that we celebrate within the church, there are three different kinds of seasons that we have.
The 1st and the longest of these we very prosaically call Ordinary Time.
I prefer to call it the Season of the Year or even better, the Season of Discipleship. It takes up about 60% of the year. Then we have the two other kinds of seasons. We have the seasons that are preparing for something. So the season of Advent, the four weeks or so in preparation for Christmas. And then the season of Lent, the 40 days plus the six extra bonus days in preparation for Easter.
Then we have the seasons of actual celebration where we say “look this feast is too significant, too important. We can’t have just one day to celebrate it. We’ve got to extend that season with celebration.” So Christmas is extended for a couple of weeks through until the feast of the Epiphany and the baptism of our Lord. And then this feast of Easter and this season of Easter.
So although it’s marked and bounded by the celebration of Pentecost, Easter is really the season of the continuing celebration that acknowledgement of what has changed. The difference that the resurrection of Jesus made in our lives. So it’s not just a looking back. It’s not just an acknowledgement of something that happened in the past, but this continuing realisation that the difference that we experience is something that we can feel and taste and touch now because in that moment, especially when we read in the Gospel of John in that moment of the resurrection, it was the moment of the unleashing of the holy.
Very, and so the it’s very fitting and proper that we acknowledge that on the 50th day the celebration of Pentecost, because all of our lives are about the difference that the Breath of God, the spirit of God, the wind of God in both the Greek language and in the Hebrew language.
All of those different ideas and words that we separate into different words in English are the same word in Hebrew (Ruah), and in Greek (Pneuma). That sense of spirit, the breath, the wind. So this is what we receive and so of course, when Jesus on the evening of their first day. This is back on the evening of Easter Sunday, the day that we now call it the first day of the week, something new is starting something new is beginning.
John wants us to know, and the disciples are just still locked in their confusion, and their misunderstanding and their doubt and the despair. And what on earth has happened? The further stories they’ve heard about Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and meeting this stranger there. They heard about other women who have also gone to the tomb. Both Peter and the disciple that Jesus loved (John) have gone to the tomb to check it out, and they’ve seen the tomb is now empty, but they still are not quite sure what has happened.
And so it’s there with the doors locked, not for fear of the Jews: That’s a misunderstanding, to translate it that way. I mean, by the end of the 1st century, when John is writing this gospel. Unfortunately, there’s already a sense of division between the Jewish community and the community of the Messianic Jews – the Jews who are now following Jesus and were identifying themselves more as Christians than as Jewish. And so Jews unfortunately began to be a polemic, a way of describing that which was essentially just the leadership within Judaism at the time, for fear of those leadership, for fear of those who were continuing to persecute them.
The doors are locked, the doors are barred because they want to protect themselves, but means that Jesus is able to come. John isn’t interested in just the sense of the miracle, and the wow he did that it’s this proclamation and declaration that Jesus is here. He’s among us. And the first words of Jesus is peace to you. It’s translated peace be with you. But there’s actually in the Greek, there is no verb in that sentence. It’s just this declaration. Peace to you. May you experience this peace.
And then he says it again. And then there’s the breath, the Breath of God, that Jesus breathed on the disciples. It’s the only time in the New Testament that we have this particular word that is used. Its breath of Jesus that is pouring forth the spirit of God, because he knows that these disciples are just going to stay locked in their own little room.
That is, they’re not going to do the work that he needs them to do until they receive the spirit of God. It’s the same for all of us. You know, we much prefer to stay locked in our safe little comfort zones and safe little churches. And just to do what we know, we’ve been always able to do just to keep on doing that. You know, that’s the challenge that the spirit will bring to do something different to do something new, to be provoked into this fullness of life that challenges us to do something that is.
Right, the first thing that Jesus tells of this young and fragile group of still doubting, still confused or lost disciples. And it’s not just the 12 or the 11 now, but it’s this much larger group, including both men and women, including presumably the mother of Jesus and the other women that have been to the tomb already, the only ones that were faithful to actually accompany Jesus to the moment of the cross to be there when they saw the burial and they were there then to witness the resurrection or the aftereffects of the resurrection, and to all of them. So not just the male apostles, but to all of these disciples, Jesus gives the same gift or the gift of the spirit and the gift of mercy to receive that prayer that you will be able to forgive sins.
You will be able to be ministers at the mercy of God that you will be able to to bring that healing that the Church. When he was, Thomas famously is not there on that first occasion, Jesus will return in order to bring him into the same experience into this same sense of wonder.
He will pray that same prayer over Thomas that he prayed over the others to receive the peace of the Lord, to allow the peace of God to change and transform Thomas just as he wants to do the same for us, let’s continue not to get locked, just in the doubt of Thomas, and that shouldn’t be a focus here.
Because Thomas is radically transformed and changed by that inkling by that desire to touch the risen Lord. Of course he wants to. It’s a natural thing to want to to be in the very presence of Jesus again in the Gospel of John, in the passage immediately preceding the one that we read tonight. We have the story of Mary Magdalene. And when she when Jesus calls her by name, she immediately goes to Jesus and obviously hugs him or clings to him. Because Jesus then says to her, do not cling to me because I have to ascend to my father and your father to my God and your God. We want to touch, we want to be present.
We want to be part of the risen Lord. So Thomas in this transformative moment is able in this to fall down and make this absolutely profound declaration, my Lord and my God, it’s the difference that the Holy Spirit can make in our lives.
It can break through the doubt; can break through the confusion, can break through the fear the spirit of God is essential over these days over the next six weeks remaining of this season. This season of Easter let’s indeed spend time each day praying and longing for the spirit of God.
Had to come praying and longing that our hearts will be changed and transformed by the spirit praying and longing that we might be the instruments of God’s grace. Praying and longing that Jesus will indeed breed that life over us, transforming us, changing us, challenging us into this new experience in this new possibility.
Of truly encountering the living God because it won’t happen any other way. Let’s pray that the spirit of God might be breathed upon us, that we might discover a new a way to fall down and worship and to take the prayer of Thomas upon our lips, My Lord and my God.