Worship at Home for Sunday, April 24

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we celebrated Easter and sang our Alleluias. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated with flowers that had been donated by our members, and arranged by our altar committee member for April, Laura Hengstenberg with help from Tom. Thank you for creating such a lovely worship setting. The choir sang joyfully. Thank you to our choir members, our choir director Laurie Rieckhoff, our pianist/organist Jean Baker. Thank you to Luis for clicking through all those Sunday morning slides. Thank you everyone!

This Sunday we continue our Easter celebrations as we reflect on the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples in the locked room as told by John. Let us keep rejoicing that Christ has risen!

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Memorial Service for Virginia LeClaire at 2pm on Saturday, April 23
  • Youth Group meeting Sunday at 4:30pm to shop for and make birthday boxes for Helping Hands.
  • Pastoral Relations Committee Monday at 7pm
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Chancel Choir at 6:30 on Wednesday

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31

Sermon: Seeing and Touching God

Have you ever been somewhere and knocked on the wrong door expecting to see a friend, but encountered a puzzled stranger instead? Have you ever been the person to open the door to encounter stranger who thought you were their friend? I had this happen to me recently. I was staying in the Branson area in our time share condo. While in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes, I noticed a man glance in the window. Then I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door to a stranger and asked, “How can I help you?” The man smiled and started to cross the threshold. Then he must have noticed my startled face and really saw me. He realized that his unit was directly above ours and apologized.

The disciples had been hiding fearfully in a house with locked doors and windows when Jesus shows up. Jesus does not knock. He just appears and stands among them. I wonder what the disciples were feeling. Were they startled that someone had mysteriously crossed the threshold? Did it take a moment for them to see that it was Jesus?

Jesus must understand how unnerving this must be as his first words are “Peace be with you.” Then he shows his hands and sides. The disciples see that this person is not a stranger, but their master. They rejoice when they see this is the living and risen Christ.

Have you ever used a clothes dryer that tumbled but did not blow any air? Oddly enough I was waiting for a load of laundry to dry when the confused man knocked at the door. I had put the wet laundry into the dryer, turned it on, heard the tumbling and thought that all was well. After the dryer cycle was over, I opened the dryer to discover that the clothes were warm and damp. There was warmth and movement but there was no blowing air. The clothes retained their dampness. Who wants to wear damp clothing?

After the disciples rejoice that Jesus is with them, Jesus says again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathes on them, and they receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus also tells them that if they forgive the sins of others, they will be forgiven. If they retain the sins of any, they are retained.

The Holy Spirt empowering us to forgive sins works like a clothes dryer. If we retain the sins, we can have movement and warmth but keep an uncomfortable dampness in our relationships. If we allow the Holy Spirit to breath into us a spirit of forgiveness our relationships become more wearable. So let us allow the Holy Spirit of forgiveness to flow through us.

Have you ever had someone say to you let me see that and then grabbed the object from your hand? By seeing they meant let me hold this object in my hands, roll it around, closely examine it. Maybe even taste and smell it. As a child it always surprised me when someone needed to do this. If the person had good vision, I thought that just looking at something would be enough. But clearly, I am wrong.

For some of the disciples and other followers of Jesus, just hearing the story from Mary that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but alive was enough. Others had to see Jesus for themselves. Thomas needed to touch Jesus.

Jesus understands that each of us are different. Some of us need a Savior that can be seen and touched. Jesus is such a Savior. Our God understands just how unique each of us are. That we all experience faith in different ways. These ways of experiencing faith may change over our lives too. What was meaningful to me as a teen is not the same as how I experience God as an aging adult. Jesus meets us where we are.

Thomas had a need to see and touch the wounds of the crucifixion. Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas who responds with, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus as a walking and wounded Savior inspires a response of great devotion. Thomas grasped in that moment the enormity of what Jesus had done for him and all who follow.

All of us have wounds. Some of our wounds are physical. Others are emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Jesus sustained wounds of all types too. The wounds in his hands and sides embody the deep physical, emotional and spiritual pain that he felt. Jesus understood Thomas’ pain. Jesus understands our pain. Jesus is our Savior whom we can see and touch. We can share our deepest fears and wounds with Him. Jesus understands that we need inspiration and power to recover from our wounds, to forgive others and to live lives of faith. In God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we have a God that we can see and touch. A God who understands our needs and gives to us a risen Savior that we can follow. Praise God!

Prayer: God who saves and restores us we give you thanks. May we always see you and know that you understand who we are and what we need. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.

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