My Lord John 20:19-29

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

John 20:29

  There is perceived safety in staying with what we already know to be true; ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.’ If we stay the course, in other words, never journeying beyond the confines of our world then we will see and interpret the world as we have always seen and understood it. Yet God offers a new vision with an opportunity to see all of creation in a whole new way. The resurrection of Jesus Christ offers an entirely new adventure for everybody; an adventure of hope, joy, and grace. In Jesus’ first resurrection appearance, one of the disciples named Thomas refused to believe until God proved to him that faith in Jesus was real. As with many of us, Thomas wanted to stay within the comfort zone of his vision of the world, resisting the call to see life in new and exciting ways. God wants us to grow in our faith, not become stagnant and resistant to the “Word that has become flesh and dwells among us.” Through our Risen Savior, God is “doing a new thing,” and that new thing may just change how we react to those around us and to God’s dynamic working in our lives. We maintain lawns, cars, grade-point averages, but we are called to do more than maintain faith, we are called to nurture our faith, to build up our faith for the glory of God, and sometimes that requires allowing God to empower us to believe even, and especially, when we cannot see for ourselves. The “proof” of our faith lies beyond our understanding; faith is “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) You have been given a gift to see beyond your own vision and to experience life filled with hope and the peace that defies all understanding. Celebrate the gift that has been given to you; it may look different and may surprise you how your life will change, but that is ok. God has blessed you and will continue to bless your life for one reason and one reason alone; you are so loved by God that God promises to be with you, “even to the end of the age.” Thank you Jesus!
 

 Pastor Tom



The Endless Gift John 20:1-18

“Then the disciples returned to their homes.”

John 20:10

  To say that there are distractions in the world is a profound understatement. We are distracted by world events, and all kinds of events that happen on the adventure of life. So when we come across something truly incredible, we take a quick glance maybe even celebrate momentarily then return to our normal everyday lives. Faith can be like that sometimes; we have one of those “wow” moments experiencing the presence of the Holy, then it just kind of wears off. Easter can be a “wow” time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its joy, then we go back to business as usual. So what would happen if we took the resurrection of Jesus Christ seriously? What if we truly celebrated Easter with every breath and movement of our being? Well, taking the resurrection of Jesus Christ seriously would mean we would take ourselves less seriously; our focus would be more about sharing what God has been shared with us. The “wow” moments of faith would come alive for us as we would experience the love of God through offering grace rather than judgment and comfort rather than condemnation. So often we become focused on everything other than God, failing to experience the joy of our faith, seemingly wallowing in the mud of life. When the gift of the resurrection of Jesus is taken seriously, we hear Jesus calling us by name and feel God’s loving arms surrounding us. Taking the resurrection seriously means to celebrate the joy of new life all the time; good, bad, and everything in between. We would begin to see people as people, not categories. Easter is an endless gift to be celebrated all the time, because God is good, all the time! Thank you Jesus, our resurrected Savior!
 
Pastor Tom


A Pastor’s Prayer for Easter

God, through the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you have offered us another chance at life, new life. As we live our lives, sometimes out of control trying to live up to the expectations of others or just trying to survive the calendar of our own design, we forget the eternal gift you have given us; the power that is victorious over death and all of our shortcomings. This Easter, empower us to take the gift of the Resurrection seriously, in all that we do, say, and think. Forgive us for not remembering the gift of new life you have offered the world. Forgive us for not fully living the joy that is faith in you. May we accept your grace, mercy, and peace, witnessing to all what we have received. As Easter people, we pray for those who are struggling in mind, body, and spirit. We pray for those who feel lost and abandoned; the marginalized, misunderstood and despised. We pray for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones; may they be comforted that as you conquered death, those they have lost are alive forevermore basking in your eternal presence. We pray for those touched by natural disasters and disasters of human origin. We pray for those who are serving our nation far from their loved ones. We pray for your church; may it be a beacon of hope and your hands reaching all in their time of need. May we be your hands, voice, and presence to the world around us. Lord, our resurrected Savior, bind the wounds of all who are hurting this day; set free those who are shackled by the life’s uncertainties and disappointments.  Lord, may all accept your gift of new life, accepting your light that has no end. Equip us to live life anew, not only on Easter Sunday, but every moment of our lives. Help us to take seriously the gift we have received this day and accept your Word with profound joy and excitement. Be with us on the journey and through life’s adventures, guiding our steps and opening the eyes of our hearts convinced that nothing on this earth will ever be able to separate us from the love you have given us this day.  Thank you for the gift of eternal life and the joy we have received and may we live our lives in the abundance of your grace forever and ever.  In the name of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor

Fields United Methodist Church