Sermon Details

Easter on the Installment Plan

April 25, 2021
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church in Crawfordsville, IN, invites you to join us as we worship in this time of SARS-CoV-2. Today's virtual service features Rev. John Van Nuys leading worship. The Gospel for today is John 21:12-17. Rev. Van Nuy’s Sermon Is “Easter on the Installment Plan”. Jennie Swick sings “Christ is Alive!” and “I Will Come to You”. We welcome Alan White who plays the prelude and the postlude on the piano. May the blessings of Easter be with you.
12Jesus said to the disciples, “Come and have breakfast.” None dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
– John 21:12-17

12Jesus said to the disciples, “Come and have breakfast.” None dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”16A second time he said to him, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Some of the Bible’s best stories are Jesus’ appearances to his friends.  The Risen Christ appears to the grieving women shattered by his crucifixion.  Thomas is so traumatized that his belief is gone.  So, Jesus goes to Thomas, healing his faith and his soul.  Jesus feeds breakfast to his fishermen friends, and graciously rehabilitates Peter.  Peter had denied Jesus three times, so Jesus gives Peter three opportunities to come back to the God who never left him, by asking:  Peter, do you love me?  Peter’s three yeses are his first steps out of his painful darkness into Easter’s healing light.

The Risen Christ could have ascended immediately, but instead he tends to his traumatized friends.  Jesus makes sure they receive the healing and grace they need to rebuild their shattered lives.

This isn’t ancient history.  This is current events.  This is good news for us.  Because the Risen Christ is still healing his traumatized friends.  He’s still raising us who’ve been shattered by the pandemic.

Thankfully, the pandemic is lifting – some.  We haven’t got a cure, but we’ve got a vaccine.  Life is starting to return.  But we’ve lost so much.  Millions dead. Businesses destroyed.  Hopes delayed.  So much is not coming back.

We’re exhausted, disoriented, cranky, sad, grieving, traumatized.  We’ve been through a worldwide crucifixion.  Miraculously, we’ve survived, but none of us is the same.

Thankfully, our Savior specializes in Resurrection, which is what we need.  How can we open ourselves to receive the Resurrection that God wants to give us?  Before his death, Jesus told his followers to go to Galilee; saying he’d meet them there.  He gave them a plan to get out of harm’s way and a rendezvous point to meet him.  What are those rendezvous points for us?  What are those healthy, good places and actions that give you joy and refresh your soul?  That’s your Galilee.  That’s your rendezvous point.  That’s where God waits to heal you.

I don’t want to give you a to-do list of things you have to do to meet God.  None of us needs that right now.  What we need is gentleness, patience, acceptance, and a simple, child-like trust that God is here and that God’s love will help us heal.

God’s justice will, too.  The verdict in the George Floyd murder trial is a sign of hope for our hurting world that what is wrong is not going to have the last say.  The last say belongs to God.  And if things have not yet all been fully set right, we can trust that God is at work to make them right.

One of the best ways for us to heal is to help others heal.  Often the best balm for a broken heart to bless someone else who is suffering.  In a post-verdict interview George Floyd’s brother Philonise was asked:  “I know that your brother’s death has changed your path in life. Can you talk about where that path leads for you now?”  Philonise immediately replied:  “That path leads to helping others.  I want to turn my pain into purpose.  I want to use my pain to make this world a better place.”

Surely, Philonise’s response is part of our calling, too.  We need to heal.  But that healing shouldn’t just be just for us alone.  We need to heal ourselves and we need to work with God to heal the world.  Which sounds overwhelming.  But our friend Bill Placher has pointed out:  “The way we show our love to the whole world is by loving with a particular passion some little part of it.”

Love.  You don’t need a Ph.D. in order to join in.  Just begin where you are.  Be kind.  Be patient with others and yourself.  Open your heart to God and healing will come.  Healing has come.  Healing is here because Christ is here.  He loves you.  He is saving you.  Most likely, in ways you don’t perceive; by means you don’t prefer; and on a timetable you wouldn’t have chosen.  Still, our saving God comes bringing incremental resurrection – Easter on the installment plan – for us all.

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In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” The good news is that that definitely includes YOU!

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!