(Transcript of Bishop Todd’s Townshend’s Weekly Video Address, April 18, 2020)
I’m glad that people are still tuning in and I will do my best to support your life of faith in a time of very different living.
One thing: not everyone has access to internet; so I’m going to do a short written piece to go with these videos. Also: Not everyone can hear. If anyone out there is willing to help find someone to sign for those who have no hearing . . . and/or someone may know how to add subtitles or something – I’ll try to figure it out ! – but if you’re willing to help, please let us know.
As we continue this season of Easter in a state of “stasis”. We are staying as still as we can, trying to find a balance, an equilibrium that will deprive a dangerous virus of what it needs to thrive. It is a difficult, costly, strategy but it is all we have right now.
I am so grateful for those who must still circulate, while we all stay put. All those who have the responsibility to serve. All those who are doing what they are trained to do. In hospitals, in long-term care, in government, in food supply and health supply. And so many others.
To those of you who are ill, to those of you who have lost someone or are, right now, really fearful that someone close to you may die, please know that we will pray for you, we will do whatever we can to help you, now or in the future.
God is with you.
And this not just any god . . . this is a God wants to do with us, what God did for “the Son” Jesus, when he suffered, and when he died.
These weekly video “chats” will follow the readings of the season of Easter.
So, here is a little preview of what’s coming. One key sentence, one claim we make, for each week. (See my entry in “Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary: Preaching Year A”, Paul Scott Wilson ed., 2013)
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday.
1. God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was dead. The world did its worst. It looked like a certain KIND of power would win. But no. God (his “Abba”, the Creator) raised Jesus up . . . to never die again . . . as the first act of the new creation.
From this point on, through the next five Sundays, we hear of how Jesus, as the Risen One, the who was raised up from the dead for some purpose, reveals that purpose to his followers.
*2. Jesus invades their fear and gives them a future.
3. Jesus, frees them from old (bad) news.
4. Jesus gives life abundantly. ( or in abundance)
5. Jesus stands up for us and brings us to himself
6. Jesus, the Christ, suffers to bring us to God
Ascension: May 21
Jesus blesses his broken church. . . and heals a broken world.
This Sunday, we will read from John’s gospel again, and hear that, on the evening of the day that Jesus rose from the dead, he enters a room filled with disciples who were trying to lock out all that threatened them in the aftermath of Jesus’ execution.
He appears twice amidst their grief, their doubt and believing, he brings them his peace, he breathes the Holy Spirit on them, and sends them out again in his name.
Jesus invades their fear and gives them a future.
Jesus now allows them to touch and see him. The good news of Easter is still primarily heard, but the incarnate and risen One condescends once more out of compassion and the desire to save. He loves them! Jesus invites them to touch his wounds and to taste the goodness of his new life.
This appearance of Jesus is astonishing. The disciples are locked away in a room of fear. They’ve lost hope and they are looking for a way out. Without Jesus they are nobodies again. Threatened nobodies. They are confused and bewildered, not just by the appearance itself, but by the fact that Jesus did not come through the door!
Nothing is happening the way it’s supposed to happen. Nothing seems real.
The physical, visible of his suffering – the holes in his hands – help to identify him, but it is his command “Shalom!” – Peace be with you – that reignites the whole story of faith, for them.
The words “receive the Spirit”, along with the breath of life upon them, brings them to a new Creation moment – when the dust of the earth is formed into flesh, when dry bones are knitted together into life. Jesus “constitutes” a new humanity from the people he loves, thereby giving all people a future in God. They have been re-membered. Put back together… giving meaning and direction to it all.
The future is God’s future, and God’s future involves God’s people in Shalom and in Spirit.
This is such good news. It’s beyond my understanding but I will spent the week see what God wants it to mean, and do, this week. May God go with you.