110: Easter 2B (April 12, 2015)


For Sunday April 12, Easter 2B.

image by Evan Courtney for a class on "doubting" Thomas

SHOW NOTES -  4/12/2015
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 110 for Sunday April 12, Easter 2B.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Happy Easter!
  • The Steel Wheels 

Quickfire Scripture: Acts 4:32-35

  • Clear contrast between how the followers of Jesus live(d) and how the world is
    • one in heart and mind - conflict
    • shared everything - materialism
    • no needy persons - plenty of needy people
    • trust in the leaders - distrust of leadership
  • How did they do this? Not by their own power but through grace
  • one, holy, catholic and apostolic church - this is the vision for the church
  • What is keeping us from being this kind of church?
  • There is a realism that develops - we know people did own property (homes that the earliest house churches took place in), we know that some did not give everything (Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5), that widows are neglected again (Acts 6)
  • The vision of Acts 4 is that this is possible

Featured Musician -  Red Molly, “The Last Call” from their album from James. Find more about their upcoming shows and music at redmolly.com or follow @redmollyband

Primary Scripture  - John 20:19-31 - Doubting Thomas….again...
Initial Thoughts

  • Wow! I haven’t heard this story since...last year after Easter...and the year before that...and the year before that - But this doesn't mean ignore it!

Bible Study

  • Jesus Appears to Mary v. 11-18
    • Lection leaves this part out, but it feels improper to leave it out. Should at least be informed by this part of the story.
    • Mary discovered empty tomb, with stone already rolled away. Runs to get Simon and the Other Disciple. They find empty tomb, then go back to where they were staying.
    • Mary lingers, and meets a “gardener.” Gospel of John is the only one that specifies that Jesus was arrested in a garden. Now he is also resurrected in one.
      • Matthew and Mark call it “a place called Gethsemane.” Luke says he went to the Mount of Olives. Only John names it a garden.
    • “Woman, why are you crying?” asked twice.
    • Mary recognizes Jesus when he says her name.
  • Jesus Appears to Disciples v. 19-23
    • Merging of Pentecost with Resurrection. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit in a locked room on Easter Sunday. Problematic if you’re trying to put together a narrative of the four gospels merged. Not problematic if you treat each gospel with the respect they deserve, and don’t try to mash them together into some strange fifth gospel of your own creation (where Christmas looks like the porcelain nativity sets we put out every year).
    • Disciples are sent out to forgive anyone’s sins.
  • Jesus Appears to All v. 24-31
    • Eight days later. What happened to being “sent out”?
    • What have disciples been doing for 8 days? Are they still locked in the room?
    • Thomas never doubts Jesus. He doubts the disciples, who haven’t apparently started to do anything different since first encountering the risen Christ.
    • Jesus offers his hands and his side, but there is nothing in the story that shows Thomas actually touched him. Jesus appears, shows Thomas his wounds, and Thomas declares “My Lord and my God.”
    • Blessing to “those who believe, but have not seen,” is a direct call to the community receiving this gospel. They now have the complete good news, and are free to believe where they have not seen.
    • Readers are pushed to proclaim, as Thomas, that Jesus is “My Lord and my God,” which was the point of the prologue, back in 1:1. Probably the end of the Gospel of John, but “there is no evidence that John’s Gospel was ever circulated without chapter 21” (Common English Study Bible, p. 212 NT).

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Thomas didn’t doubt Christ, he doubted his followers. He doubted those that gave witness to the risen Christ, perhaps because they showed no evidence. Even after encountering the risen Christ, they were locking themselves in a room. Is there any wonder that he didn’t believe them? What evidence do we show that there is a risen Christ? If all we do is lock ourselves in rooms (sanctuaries, churches, institutions), then why would anyone believe that we have been changed by a miraculous experience?
  • Readers at the end of this passage are pushed to recall the prologue. The gospel started by proclaiming that Jesus is the eternal Word made flesh. At the end, Thomas is able to declare that Jesus is “My Lord, and my God.” This is the culmination of belief. Just as the gospel is structured with increasingly dramatic signs and wonders, so is the increasingly bold witness. In the end, we are left to witness that Jesus is Lord and God. This might be a difficult thing for those with low Christology, but it is a basic tenet of Christianity that Christ is fully human and fully divine.

Psalm Nugget - Psalm 133 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan of psalmimmersion.com and @pomopsalmist.

Second Reading: 1 John 1:1 - 2:2 - Atonement
Initial Thoughts

  • John 1 in Eastertide!
  • Give Thomas a break for once and jump into 1 John: love, antichrists, light and darkness, the complexity of sin and more!!
  • “How plain, how full, and how deep a compendium of genuine Christianity!” - John Wesley

Bible Study

  • Thoughts on 1 John
    • Authorship - little is known, anonymous in all letters except for “the elder in 2 and 3 John. Most scholars agree that all 3 letters were written by the same author. Traditionally thought to be authored by John, son of Zebedee, the disciple whom Jesus loved and author of the 4th Gospel - no hard evidence to support this claim (or that John of patmos authored the letters), therefore they retain the name “John” due to tradition. (C. Clifton Black, “1, 2 & 3 John” NIB XII)
    • Dating: 1 John has many literary and theological consistencies with the 4th Gospel. While it is unknown (and debated) which came first the letters or the Gospel. Either way the letters most like come from the Johannine community around 100 CE
    • Major theological themes of 1 John (you’ll note common themes in the Gospel of John)
      • Incarnation
      • Light and Darkness
      • Love
      • Walk as a metaphor for faith journey
    • Want more on 1 John? Check out Enter the Bible’s entry on 1 John here!
  • Introduction v. 1-4
    • Experiential, not doctrinal - faith is sensory (heard, seen, touched)
    • Community- faith is experienced in fellowship with God, Jesus and one another
    • In this experience of faith seen, heard and touched and in fellowship with one another and the divine “joy may be complete”
  • Complexity of sin v. 5-10
    • God is light, in God there is no darkness v. 5
    • If you sin or “walk in darkness” you are not with God v. 6
    • We all sin v. 8 (Norman GreenBaum has it wrong)
    • If you say you haven’t sinned - you are lying and are sinning v. 10
      • George Straup - compares this to Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve convincing themselves and trying to convince God they have not sinned (Feasting on the Word)
    • How do we overcome sin? confession (v. 9), walking with God (in the light) and fellowship with one another (v.7)
  • 50 shades of John
    • The world is light and darkness, sin and sinless
    • We are always vacillating between these poles - we live in the tension between light and dark, sin and redemption, we live in the 50 shades of grey…(only without the spanking bench)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How might we invite people not simply to hear the word but to see it and touch it?
  • Fellowship with one another and with God are central to a life of faith, yet fellowship in church’s is too often seen as less important than outreach and faith formation or happened devoid of spirituality. How do we resurrect [see what I did there :) ?] fellowship as a spiritual practice?
  • There may not be darkness within God, but that does not mean God did not experience darkness through crucifixion.
  • 1 John is not concerned about justification by works or faith- the two are inseparable. If you believe in the light- walk in the light. If you walk in the dark- you clearly don’t believe in the light.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

TY listeners
Shout Outs:

  • The Steel Wheels are on tour and have a new album coming out!
  • Over 10,000 pageviews in March, which broke our traffic record, which was set in February. Thanks for your support.

Featured Musician Red Molly, “The Last Call” from their album from James. Find more about their upcoming shows and music at redmolly.com or follow @redmollyband

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).