Sermon Details

Loved Back into Life

April 19, 2020
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church invites you to join our virtual Sunday Worship Service. The Scripture Lesson for today is John 20:19-31. Rev. John Van Nuys sermon for today is "Love Back into Life". Lanie Rogers, accompanied by Trey Rogers, sings "Christ the Lord is Risen Today". Our Choir Director, Jennie Fights Swick, sings "This Joyful Eastertide". We also have an Easter Egg for everyone. At the end of the service, the Oconee Presbyterian Church Choir, Watkinsville Georgia, under the direction of Dallas Bono, joins together through technology to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.
(19) When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the authorities, Jesus came and stood among them, saying, “Peace be with you.” (20) After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (21) Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (22) Having said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (24) But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. (25) So the disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I won’t believe.”

(26) A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them, saying, “Peace be with you.” (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Don’t doubt but believe.” (28) Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (30) Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written here. (31) But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
– John 20:19-31

My second grade art teacher taught me a great lesson. Having messed up my drawing, I wanted another sheet of paper. But she refused, saying: “You can make something out of this.” I protested. She insisted. She wasn’t being stingy with supplies. She was teaching me a wonderful truth: You can turn something messed up into something beautiful.

Jesus certainly did that with Thomas. Jesus repaired a shattered faith. Jesus turned something broken into something beautiful.
Transforming brokenness into beauty: There’s an art form devoted to that: Kintsugi – in Japanese it means “to join with gold.” Kintsugi potters take broken vessels and reassemble them.

But the damage isn’t disguised. Instead, ceramic lacquer is mixed with gold to glue pieces together. When finished, the fault lines shine. The vessel is again in one piece, brightly veined with gold. Kintsugi recognizes that brokenness is not a defect, but the means by which a deeper beauty can emerge.

Jesus is a Kintsugi master: In repairing Thomas’ broken belief, Jesus doesn’t take away Thomas’ pain. Jesus joins Thomas’ pain to his mercy. The past is not erased, but it is joined to a future which can be different – because healing can happen. That’s what Easter is. That’s what Jesus is offering us now.

We’re all broken. We’ve made horrible mistakes. We’ve badly hurt others. Our three-steps-forward, two-steps-back lives are stained and imperfect. Our failure, shame, and despair are compounded by our culture, which values youth, newness, success, and perfection. If we’re not-so-new; if we’ve endured setbacks and accumulated scars; we often feel like broken china, irreparably damaged and destined for the trash.

But Jesus doesn’t see us that way. Yes, he sees our scars – because he has scars, too. The Risen Christ has the mark of the nails in his hands and side. Those are still part of him, but the Resurrection has made him whole, scars and all. And that is what the Resurrection is still doing today.
Our Risen Savior lives to love us back into life. He takes our broken lives and fills the cracks with his healing love, which is the golden glue that binds us together. Because of Jesus’ Easter victory, we can trust that his love will prevail.

But what about now? COVID-19 has separated us and shattered the status quo. Like Thomas, we despair.
This is where Jesus meets us. This is how Resurrection happens: When imperfect, struggling souls open their hearts to Christ, asking to be forgiven, healed, and loved, God meets us. Our brokenness is where Easter happens today.

If you feel both broken and loved, then you see yourself as God does. But God doesn’t despise your brokenness – because that is precisely where your best self, your deepest strength, and your life’s truest beauty can flourish.

The Catholic writer Teilhard de Chardan said, “Trust in the slow work of God.” God’s healing takes time. Fresh, painful wounds don’t disappear overnight. But healing does come. Trust that. Live into that. Cooperate with that. Give the broken pieces of your life to Christ. He will make them beautiful and make you whole. Christ will love you back into life. He will bind your brokenness unto a brilliant resurrection.

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!