The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Everything Old is New Again

The third Sunday in the season of Easter

Based on the readings from: Acts 3: 12-19  “Peter explains the power of healing a crippled man”

And Luke, Chapter 24, verses 36b-48 “Jesus appears and promises ‘Peace be with you’”

Opening Prayer: May the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses be present to us in our discernment of God’s Word for us this day.  Amen.

Looking at the bulletin cover this morning reminds me of one of those daunting tasks undertaken by two members of our worship team a while ago. 

It’s one of those tasks that emerges when we wonder:  What to do when a whole years’ worth of bulletin covers arrives at the same time as we are using up old ones and somehow the whole jumbled mess gets thrown together? 

What we did here at Knox was to ask for someone with organizational skills to  “help” sequence the bulletin covers for easy access as the weeks of each church season seem to come ‘round faster and faster all time! 

The good news for today:  Sometimes when we seek, we do find, and in this case, we had two helpers who took on this task!

 This is why we can say with some thankfulness and pride this morning that our bulletin cover images and words found on the front of your bulletin match up quite nicely with our readings from Scripture.

“Everything old is new again” captures well what I heard as Michelle read for us the story from the Acts of the Apostles as Peter and John, now mature disciples, go about the business of embodying ministries of healing, teaching, and witnessing to their leader, Jesus, the Christ. 

In their healing of a crippled man restored to the community at Solomon’s portico in the name of Jesus, everything old is made new again!   Hallelujah, amen. 

The idea of “everything old is new again” sprang to mind for me again in our reading from Luke’s gospel as the post resurrection Jesus offers his distinctively non anxious presence to his disciples.  You remember, the 11 now huddled together somewhere in the heart of Jerusalem on the third day after Jesus was crucified on the cross. 

Here in Luke’s version of the encounter, Jesus stands in their midst, bringing a word of peace, encouraging those gathered not only to touch and see his hands and his feet but, also, to provide him with food!   

As it happens, they just happen to have handy some fish which the Risen Christ apparently eats with some gusto! 

From there, the story tells us, the post resurrection Jesus picks up the threads of what he has always been about:

The business of opening not only his followers’ eyes but also their minds to what has been fulfilled through the ancient texts of their faith. 

The Risen Christ’s message that “Everything old is new again” continues in his commissioning of the disciples:  Carry on with the good news proclaiming a repentance and the forgiveness of sins, he encourages.

Be sure to testify to this within the walls of Jerusalem and get ready to carry that message as far beyond its walls as will be humanly possible. 

But, not just quite yet.  More help is to come before that.

 And here ends the reading for this morning. 

What do you think? 

Could a small group of terrified and traumatized believers whose world has been turned upside down turn around and do the very same? 

What fortified them, I wonder, on what must surely have been, for them, a very steep, spiritual learning curve? 

To begin with, our stories from scripture tell us they had each other and their shared experience of the pre-resurrection Jesus.

And

They had what we read about today-a different kind of experience of Jesus’ presence, one where “everything old was new again”.  And, from today’s reading, perhaps a sense of confidence that this Presence had staying power, this Presence could neither be maneuvered, nor scapegoated nor controlled, nor gotten rid of.

In a way, we, who comprise the body of Christ in this time and in this place, might not be so very different from those terrified and traumatized first followers in the way of Jesus. 

Though we busy ourselves with what we understand to be our call, for some years now, many of us are very concerned with declining attendance and participation in church life.   While there always seems to be more than enough to do but fewer of us to do it.

Instead of finding ourselves at the center of culture, many of us are beginning to see and to accept that we are clearly positioned on the margins.

What then is God calling us to do and to be about together?

Some of us are even asking ourselves and one another how might we help one another find our way through these painful truths rather than skirting around them with our own busy-ness.

If ever there is a time in the life of the church as we know it, now is the time to put on our thinking caps and to risk turning our imaginations to new expressions of ministry and mission.

Though it’s not quite yet arrived, it does feel to me that there is something new emerging at Knox.  Are we up for it?  Can we do it?   

Turning away from that which calls us away from God and from each other and forgiving ourselves and one another our humanity make for a good starting points.   

Learning to embody a non-anxious presence as offered to us through the Risen Christ who invited his followers to touch and see is a place to begin.

If we can respond in faith, in hope, and in love for God and for each other as the body of Christ in this time and in this place, I am confident that we can truly become an Easter people. 

Thanks be to God.  Amen.