Don’t Stop Believing

Bible Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9, Psalm 16, John 2 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

In 1981, the best power ballad of all time was released. What’s a power ballad you might ask? Well, according to Wikipedia it is a term used for emotional love song which builds to a loud and emotive chorus backed by drums, electric guitars and sometimes choirs. It is rocks attempt at conveying a profound message. What is the best power ballad of all time, you wonder? It is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ (Just a small town girl-living in a lonely world). This song has recently had a comeback thanks to television shows including The Sopranos and Glee. I will admit, I have to agree it is the best power ballad of all time. An interesting fact is that writer, and lead singer of Journey at the time, Steve Perry, wrote the lyric, “born and raised in South Detroit”. However, there is no such place as south Detroit. If one were to go south from downtown Detroit, they would quickly find themselves in Windsor, Ontario. Why I mention this song is because I not only find it to be a great power ballad but the lyrics bring us to this morning’s gospel passage.

Don’t stop believing, hold to that feeling. More seriously, how easy is it, for us to loose that feeling, to stop believing? When we are confronted with anxiety or fear, when we are dealing with something we just can’t seem to handle, when we grow complacent, or just because, we often loose the feeling of faith and most definitely have moments of doubt and unbelief. The disciples are no different, and in that I find some relief.

Our passage begins, “When it was evening on that day”, this is often an introduction that gets ignored, but is so vital to our understanding. For us, it has been a week to digest, re-tell, and experience the story of Easter. For the disciples, it is still that first day. It was just that Sunday morning that they heard the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Some might expect that by now the disciples would be celebrating, ecstatic with the words that Mary has shared with them, or the sights Peter and the other disciple have seen, but instead we find them huddled behind locked doors. The Gospel says that the doors were locked for fear of the Jews, more precisely, for fear of the Jewish leadership. They saw what the leaders did to Jesus and they are terrified that it could happen to them. They are afraid for their own lives. The disciples are also, overwhelmed, afraid of the uncertain future and the only people who understands what they are going through is each other. Therefore, it makes sense that they would be huddled behind lock doors, likely in a mixture of prayer, shock, doubt, and concern. They had lost their feeling.

I have also read in many commentaries that it is quite possible they are afraid of Jesus. Partly because the man just defied everything they know and understand about life and death. They know he died, they know he breathed his last, and yet, they hear, and some have seen that he is alive. How on earth is that possible? It is quite frightening. But also, partly because they all failed him miserably. Peter denied him and all but one, deserted him while he was hung on the cross. Perhaps the last person they want to meet this night, the first night since Easter morning, was Jesus- for fear that he might confront them with their failures. The fact that they had lost their believing.

Jesus, however, is not stopped by the locked doors. He comes right through and he comes not to confront the disciples with their failures but to grant them peace. The first words he speaks is, “Peace be with you.” Much like the Hebrew word, Shalom, this greeting has a much deeper meaning then a sense of quiet, or tranquillity. It is a wish for the recipient to have a deep sense of well-being. As Jesus, himself says, it is the kind of peace the world cannot give.

This is the reality for all of us. We often loose our feeling and find faith has become lost in the depths of grief or pain or confusion. We can feel a tremendous sense of guilt or a concern that we will be judged. Although, sometimes our peers can have that affect on us, the most important thing is that Jesus does not come in judgement or to confront our failures, but loves us despite those failures, and offers us peace, shalom, well-being.

Once the disciples receive this peace. Jesus tells them, “As the father has sent me, so I send you.” Last week we heard how the two Marys experienced fear, but were then were told there was no need to fear any more for Christ is risen. Once they were relieved of this fear they were able to serve. So too is it true for our disciples. With Jesus’ peace comes the opportunity to serve. The disciples are sent to continue Jesus’ mission for the world and they are not ill equipped for this task because along with the peace of God comes the breathe, the Spirit, of God. Jesus breathes into the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. This advocate, or spirit of truth, will teach them, inspire them, and remind them of all that Jesus has said to them. The Spirit will guide them into all truth. Jesus continues to specify what it means to be sent, to make known the love of God that Jesus himself has made known.

Now, Thomas is absent at the time of the first appearance of Jesus. He gets a really bad rap as “doubting Thomas” when in fact he asks for nothing more than the others have already received and asked for. The wonder of the story is that Jesus does show up a week later to provide exactly what Thomas needs. Often Jesus shows up in our lives to provide us with what we need-sometimes it is exactly what we asked for and sometimes it is what we needed all along. But Thomas is in fact, not the doubter we all claim him to be, but the first disciple to give the highest confession of faith- My Lord, My God. Only in doubting was Thomas able to come to the conclusion.

I firmly believe there is room for doubt in faith. It is through doubt that we develop. It is through doubt that we ask questions-sometimes even answer questions. The Easter season can sometimes seem to leave little room for doubt or fear or pain. However, we tend to forget that for the first disciples there was A LOT of fear, doubt, pain and confusion. Thomas was not the only one who needed reassurance and peace.

The promise of Easter in amongst all the Hallelujahs is that Jesus cannot be stopped by our locked doors. Jesus comes to us as he came to the first disciples, right in the midst of our fear, pain, doubt and confusion. He comes offering us peace, breathing into our anxious lives the breath of the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide. And Jesus keeps showing up-each time we are gathered, what’s more is he keeps sending us out of our locked rooms into a world that so desperately needs his gifts- his peace. Jesus is there when we loose that feeling and stop believing providing us with restored faith and feeling. Don’t stop believing, hold on to that feeling. Amen

April 27, 2014
Preacher:

Passage:

1 Peter 1:3-9, Psalm 16, John 2

Service Type:

In 1981, the best power ballad of all time was released. What's a power ballad you might ask? Well, according to Wikipedia it is a term used for emotional love song which builds to a loud and emotive chorus backed by drums, electric guitars and sometimes choirs. It is rocks attempt at conveying a profound message. What is the best power ballad of all time, you wonder? It is Journey's Don't Stop Believin' (Just a small town girl-living in a lonely world). This song has recently had a comeback thanks to television shows including The Sopranos and Glee. I will admit, I have to agree it is the best power ballad of all time. An interesting fact is that writer, and lead singer of Journey at the time, Steve Perry, wrote the lyric, “born and raised in South Detroit”. However, there is no such place as south Detroit. If one were to go south from downtown Detroit, they would quickly find themselves in Windsor, Ontario. Why I mention this song is because I not only find it to be a great power ballad but the lyrics bring us to this morning's gospel passage.

Don't stop believing, hold to that feeling. More seriously, how easy is it, for us to loose that feeling, to stop believing? When we are confronted with anxiety or fear, when we are dealing with something we just can't seem to handle, when we grow complacent, or just because, we often loose the feeling of faith and most definitely have moments of doubt and unbelief. The disciples are no different, and in that I find some relief.

Our passage begins, “When it was evening on that day”, this is often an introduction that gets ignored, but is so vital to our understanding. For us, it has been a week to digest, re-tell, and experience the story of Easter. For the disciples, it is still that first day. It was just that Sunday morning that they heard the news of Jesus' resurrection. Some might expect that by now the disciples would be celebrating, ecstatic with the words that Mary has shared with them, or the sights Peter and the other disciple have seen, but instead we find them huddled behind locked doors. The Gospel says that the doors were locked for fear of the Jews, more precisely, for fear of the Jewish leadership. They saw what the leaders did to Jesus and they are terrified that it could happen to them. They are afraid for their own lives. The disciples are also, overwhelmed, afraid of the uncertain future and the only people who understands what they are going through is each other. Therefore, it makes sense that they would be huddled behind lock doors, likely in a mixture of prayer, shock, doubt, and concern. They had lost their feeling.

I have also read in many commentaries that it is quite possible they are afraid of Jesus. Partly because the man just defied everything they know and understand about life and death. They know he died, they know he breathed his last, and yet, they hear, and some have seen that he is alive. How on earth is that possible? It is quite frightening. But also, partly because they all failed him miserably. Peter denied him and all but one, deserted him while he was hung on the cross. Perhaps the last person they want to meet this night, the first night since Easter morning, was Jesus- for fear that he might confront them with their failures. The fact that they had lost their believing.

Jesus, however, is not stopped by the locked doors. He comes right through and he comes not to confront the disciples with their failures but to grant them peace. The first words he speaks is, “Peace be with you.” Much like the Hebrew word, Shalom, this greeting has a much deeper meaning then a sense of quiet, or tranquillity. It is a wish for the recipient to have a deep sense of well-being. As Jesus, himself says, it is the kind of peace the world cannot give.

This is the reality for all of us. We often loose our feeling and find faith has become lost in the depths of grief or pain or confusion. We can feel a tremendous sense of guilt or a concern that we will be judged. Although, sometimes our peers can have that affect on us, the most important thing is that Jesus does not come in judgement or to confront our failures, but loves us despite those failures, and offers us peace, shalom, well-being.

Once the disciples receive this peace. Jesus tells them, “As the father has sent me, so I send you.” Last week we heard how the two Marys experienced fear, but were then were told there was no need to fear any more for Christ is risen. Once they were relieved of this fear they were able to serve. So too is it true for our disciples. With Jesus' peace comes the opportunity to serve. The disciples are sent to continue Jesus' mission for the world and they are not ill equipped for this task because along with the peace of God comes the breathe, the Spirit, of God. Jesus breathes into the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. This advocate, or spirit of truth, will teach them, inspire them, and remind them of all that Jesus has said to them. The Spirit will guide them into all truth. Jesus continues to specify what it means to be sent, to make known the love of God that Jesus himself has made known.

Now, Thomas is absent at the time of the first appearance of Jesus. He gets a really bad rap as “doubting Thomas” when in fact he asks for nothing more than the others have already received and asked for. The wonder of the story is that Jesus does show up a week later to provide exactly what Thomas needs. Often Jesus shows up in our lives to provide us with what we need-sometimes it is exactly what we asked for and sometimes it is what we needed all along. But Thomas is in fact, not the doubter we all claim him to be, but the first disciple to give the highest confession of faith- My Lord, My God. Only in doubting was Thomas able to come to the conclusion.

I firmly believe there is room for doubt in faith. It is through doubt that we develop. It is through doubt that we ask questions-sometimes even answer questions. The Easter season can sometimes seem to leave little room for doubt or fear or pain. However, we tend to forget that for the first disciples there was A LOT of fear, doubt, pain and confusion. Thomas was not the only one who needed reassurance and peace.

The promise of Easter in amongst all the Hallelujahs is that Jesus cannot be stopped by our locked doors. Jesus comes to us as he came to the first disciples, right in the midst of our fear, pain, doubt and confusion. He comes offering us peace, breathing into our anxious lives the breath of the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide. And Jesus keeps showing up-each time we are gathered, what's more is he keeps sending us out of our locked rooms into a world that so desperately needs his gifts- his peace. Jesus is there when we loose that feeling and stop believing providing us with restored faith and feeling. Don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling. Amen

Bible Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9, Psalm 16, John 2 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

In 1981, the best power ballad of all time was released. What’s a power ballad you might ask? Well, according to Wikipedia it is a term used for emotional love song which builds to a loud and emotive chorus backed by drums, electric guitars and sometimes choirs. It is rocks attempt at conveying a profound message. What is the best power ballad of all time, you wonder? It is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ (Just a small town girl-living in a lonely world). This song has recently had a comeback thanks to television shows including The Sopranos and Glee. I will admit, I have to agree it is the best power ballad of all time. An interesting fact is that writer, and lead singer of Journey at the time, Steve Perry, wrote the lyric, “born and raised in South Detroit”. However, there is no such place as south Detroit. If one were to go south from downtown Detroit, they would quickly find themselves in Windsor, Ontario. Why I mention this song is because I not only find it to be a great power ballad but the lyrics bring us to this morning’s gospel passage.

Don’t stop believing, hold to that feeling. More seriously, how easy is it, for us to loose that feeling, to stop believing? When we are confronted with anxiety or fear, when we are dealing with something we just can’t seem to handle, when we grow complacent, or just because, we often loose the feeling of faith and most definitely have moments of doubt and unbelief. The disciples are no different, and in that I find some relief.

Our passage begins, “When it was evening on that day”, this is often an introduction that gets ignored, but is so vital to our understanding. For us, it has been a week to digest, re-tell, and experience the story of Easter. For the disciples, it is still that first day. It was just that Sunday morning that they heard the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Some might expect that by now the disciples would be celebrating, ecstatic with the words that Mary has shared with them, or the sights Peter and the other disciple have seen, but instead we find them huddled behind locked doors. The Gospel says that the doors were locked for fear of the Jews, more precisely, for fear of the Jewish leadership. They saw what the leaders did to Jesus and they are terrified that it could happen to them. They are afraid for their own lives. The disciples are also, overwhelmed, afraid of the uncertain future and the only people who understands what they are going through is each other. Therefore, it makes sense that they would be huddled behind lock doors, likely in a mixture of prayer, shock, doubt, and concern. They had lost their feeling.

I have also read in many commentaries that it is quite possible they are afraid of Jesus. Partly because the man just defied everything they know and understand about life and death. They know he died, they know he breathed his last, and yet, they hear, and some have seen that he is alive. How on earth is that possible? It is quite frightening. But also, partly because they all failed him miserably. Peter denied him and all but one, deserted him while he was hung on the cross. Perhaps the last person they want to meet this night, the first night since Easter morning, was Jesus- for fear that he might confront them with their failures. The fact that they had lost their believing.

Jesus, however, is not stopped by the locked doors. He comes right through and he comes not to confront the disciples with their failures but to grant them peace. The first words he speaks is, “Peace be with you.” Much like the Hebrew word, Shalom, this greeting has a much deeper meaning then a sense of quiet, or tranquillity. It is a wish for the recipient to have a deep sense of well-being. As Jesus, himself says, it is the kind of peace the world cannot give.

This is the reality for all of us. We often loose our feeling and find faith has become lost in the depths of grief or pain or confusion. We can feel a tremendous sense of guilt or a concern that we will be judged. Although, sometimes our peers can have that affect on us, the most important thing is that Jesus does not come in judgement or to confront our failures, but loves us despite those failures, and offers us peace, shalom, well-being.

Once the disciples receive this peace. Jesus tells them, “As the father has sent me, so I send you.” Last week we heard how the two Marys experienced fear, but were then were told there was no need to fear any more for Christ is risen. Once they were relieved of this fear they were able to serve. So too is it true for our disciples. With Jesus’ peace comes the opportunity to serve. The disciples are sent to continue Jesus’ mission for the world and they are not ill equipped for this task because along with the peace of God comes the breathe, the Spirit, of God. Jesus breathes into the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. This advocate, or spirit of truth, will teach them, inspire them, and remind them of all that Jesus has said to them. The Spirit will guide them into all truth. Jesus continues to specify what it means to be sent, to make known the love of God that Jesus himself has made known.

Now, Thomas is absent at the time of the first appearance of Jesus. He gets a really bad rap as “doubting Thomas” when in fact he asks for nothing more than the others have already received and asked for. The wonder of the story is that Jesus does show up a week later to provide exactly what Thomas needs. Often Jesus shows up in our lives to provide us with what we need-sometimes it is exactly what we asked for and sometimes it is what we needed all along. But Thomas is in fact, not the doubter we all claim him to be, but the first disciple to give the highest confession of faith- My Lord, My God. Only in doubting was Thomas able to come to the conclusion.

I firmly believe there is room for doubt in faith. It is through doubt that we develop. It is through doubt that we ask questions-sometimes even answer questions. The Easter season can sometimes seem to leave little room for doubt or fear or pain. However, we tend to forget that for the first disciples there was A LOT of fear, doubt, pain and confusion. Thomas was not the only one who needed reassurance and peace.

The promise of Easter in amongst all the Hallelujahs is that Jesus cannot be stopped by our locked doors. Jesus comes to us as he came to the first disciples, right in the midst of our fear, pain, doubt and confusion. He comes offering us peace, breathing into our anxious lives the breath of the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide. And Jesus keeps showing up-each time we are gathered, what’s more is he keeps sending us out of our locked rooms into a world that so desperately needs his gifts- his peace. Jesus is there when we loose that feeling and stop believing providing us with restored faith and feeling. Don’t stop believing, hold on to that feeling. Amen