Scripture/Sermon of the Day. April 11, 2021

Acts 4:32-35

32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.

John 20:19-31
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
24 Thomas, the one called Didymus,[a] one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”
26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”
28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.

Reflection/Sermon:

I. Can you imagine living your life now without being afraid? In 2020 security companies in the United States grew by 21%. Private security companies are businesses which provide armed and unarmed security services and expertise to private and public clients. If you want to feel more secure, you can hire one of these people to be your bodyguard.
Last month I watched Oprah Winfrey interview Dutchess Megan and Prince Harry and one of the big factors in their lives is SECURITY. When their son, Archie, wasn’t given the title of “prince,” it meant that the security he would receive was diminished. This was a factor that led to Megan and Harry leaving the monarchy.

II. Security is an important consideration for how we live our lives. Almost every day now in the United States there is a mass shooting. Yesterday, six were hurt in a Fort Worth, Texas, freeway shooting. Just two days before, in Bryan Texas, a man who worked at a cabinetmaking shop shot six co-workers and a State Trooper. Earlier this week six were shot in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Mass shootings are so common that only the big ones, like more than five people, make the national news. But they ARE common and maybe they’re in the back of everyone’s mind, as they go to Stop and Shop or Walmart — “Is one of these shoppers a mass shooter?” And in local news every week there are thefts, car-jackings, break-ins. Can Jesus help us in these situations, or do we need to carry a concealed firearm?
Whenever there’s a mass shooting, sales of assault rifles go crazy. Because people are afraid. It’s a dangerous world and guns are a kind of security blanket. People are also afraid they will become illegal. Fear determines how we live much of our lives.

III. Like it did with the disciples. Our gospel reading today begins with fear. The disciples were afraid and in lockdown, hiding. But Jesus taught them not to be afraid of death. “Pick up your cross and follow me,” he said. But what did Peter pick up when people came to arrest Jesus? His sword!

IV. And into the fear and panic, Jesus appeared and said: “Peace be with you.” He said, I send you as God sent me,” and he breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples —like he breathes it into us.
Something happens to the fear over time. Eight days after this happened, the disciples were still in a locked room. But if we read the book of Acts, we wonder — are these the same disciples that hid in a locked house? Eventually they went to the Temple and preached in front of the priests and the guards who arrested them.
John, in one of his letters, tells us the secret. There’s only one thing that is powerful enough to drive out fear. It’s not a weapon or a security service or an advanced alarm system. In a letter, John says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Love is what Jesus breathes into us. It’s the only security system we will ever need.