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Sermon

Sent with the Breath of Life (Sermon April 15, 2012)

Scripture: John 20:19-31

Adam still sits in the conference room after the celebration, considering his next move. He is there alone so he starts to pray. He admits his confusion about life and what he should be doing. He starts to think about the people he knew and their new career paths. Many moved on to corporate positions within the company he was part of. But he was not given one of these positions. He begins to wonder why. Why is the most asked question of humanity from the second year of life on. In fact you still probably have not found the answer to WHY.

Adam wonders why and he hears a noise behind him. He sees the new CEO, well not his CEO since he has not yet been offered a job even though they have become pretty good friends. The guy sees him and begins to approach. Adam doesn’t know what to think, he almost wants to leave since he feels somewhat betrayed. Yet something holds him there to the seat, a calm begins to wash over him. Which he finds incredibly odd. The boss approaches with a smile, shakes Adam’s hand, and even gives him a hug. He begins to explain why he has not offered Adam a position in the company, and brings up an idea they discussed in passing while eating one of the many meals they shared. This CEO is not like many CEO’s he actually gives most of his income to various charities. At one of those many meals this man asked Adam if he could do anything without worrying about his family or income what would he do? They talked about it for a while Adam left thinking it was nice to dream, but it would never be possible.  Today this man was not offering him a job what he proposes is a opportunity to pursue a ministry that they both found intriguing.

The disciples of Christ were up in a room locked away from the rest of the world. They were there wondering what to do next. Their leader was killed by the Romans, and buried. They thought they had a good run but now it was time to get back to the real world. Plans were probably being made as to whose boat they were going to us to fish from. Then things changed. Mary came from the tomb saying the body was gone. They checked it out and sure enough it was. Imagine what they were thinking. If someone would take the body what would they do with those that were still living?

Again Mary rushes in with another even more fantastic story. She saw Him, not in another tomb but spoke with Him. She said that He was alive! The talk was now changing again. I’m sure things were said that were probably should not repeat, but we have all heard said before when sceptics speak to us about our faith. Yet Mary stood her ground, she saw Jesus. At the height of the discussion a new voice weighed in. A voice they all knew, saying peace be with you. Jaws dropped. It was true. There He was, standing before them holding out His hands in blessing and he continues to speak. Peace to you. As the Father sent me, so I send you. He breathed over them a sign of the Spirit or the breath of life being transferred from Him to them.

They were sent. Their planning began to take a different form. I send you, He says. Everyone here has something that gets them excited. Some may call it a passion, I call it your ministry. It is the thing you would do if all other distractions and worries were taken away and you were given a opportunity to just live free. These disciples knew what they wanted to do. They signed up to change the world to help bring in the kingdom of God. For three years they were given the chance to do this, and they jumped at it. They left their fathers with the fishing nets, they left their collection tables, some even left their zealous gangs to follow this teacher that they believed could change the world. And He did. They saw the most amazing things happen, the blind received their sight, the deaf were able to hear, the crippled were dancing in the streets praising God. They were part of the greatest thing, they were part of the greatest story in all of history. But things changed. The teacher went from being loved to being despised.

Even in this locked room the spark of life remained. They still had a hope, even though it may have been small, that the kingdom was at hand. Now they are energized again. The man who breathed his last breath is blowing on them. And sending them out to continue the mission He was sent to start. He was sending them out to carry the banner of the kingdom out into the dark broken world. They were sent out with the promise of the breath of life being with them. The breath that entered the first man to connect him to his God was breathed upon them, it passed over their skin and filled their lungs. Their leader was not dead but living, breathing, and sending them out.

They begin to move with excitement. Their movement was dead with the Rabbi but now it lives again with Him. But not everyone was there, Thomas had already begun to pull away. He already left the group to begin searching for the next chapter of his life to begin. So they find him, tell him to stop filling out job applications, because they have a job to do. He doesn’t believe, and why should he? He saw his dreams die on a tree, saw them wrapped up and laid in the tomb of a friend. We give him a hard time but he did come back to the group. Though he doubted and said he would only believe if he saw it with his own eyes he came back. And he too was sent out.

They were sent because they had a mission a ministry to fulfill. They eagerly embraced their life with Jesus because in Him they found the true meaning of their life. They had a role to fill and could not live without participating in it. We too have a role. The world around them tried to stop their mission, the world went so far that they tried to kill and bury the source of devotion. But the world cannot stop God. Ministry is given by God, for God. Mankind cannot take ministry away. They can take away jobs, they can take away freedom, but they cannot take from anyone the passion and ministry given and ordained by God.

These men and women saw their leader killed, then they saw him and felt His restored body. They were sent knowing that even death could not hold the advancement of their goal. Our world has not changed all that much. The technology has advanced, the methods changed, but the gospel remains the same. The kingdom of God is at hand. God loves humankind and wants to lift us all up into a relationship with Him again. And He want us to go out to spread the word. What keeps us from doing so? For some it is doubt. We do not fully understand how it could be so we stand down bury our passion because we do not feel comfortable explaining something we do not fully grasp. It’s ok to doubt but we can still press on through that doubt. Knowing that even the very first followers doubted. They did receive answers to their doubts, they put there fingers into the wounds that were once their stumbling blocks. If God answered them, he will answer us too.

Some of us stay back out of fear, locking ourselves in rooms cut off to the outside world because we are afraid of what others may think or do if they knew. What is the source of this fear? It is the darkness of the world trying to bind us to hold us back so that it can continue to do what it wants. Fear kept the Christians in Germany from standing up to a dictator, fear allows darkness to spread over the world. People say if God is so loving why does He allow things to happen like the Holocaust, it is because those called to prevent it locked themselves in rooms out of fear.

We doubt, we fear, and we lack trust. We do not trust that God can do what He prompts in us. We make plans yet in those plans we only go so far because we do not trust that God will provide. This lack of trust is doubt and fear. It is putting our faith in ourselves instead of on God. We lock ourselves in rooms because we fail to trust that the one who can raise the dead, can also breathe life into us.

The darkness, the world cannot keep us from our ministries. They are passions given to us by God and only God can take them away. We can pursue our biggest dreams because God can do what He says He can. We know this because Thomas put his hand into the wounds of his Lord and God. If God can raise the dead to life He can provide for our needs. And we are blessed if we trust even if we do not see.

Adam was lost in his thoughts about the future. He did have dreams. He had things he would love to do if he had the opportunity to. His friend saw the passion in him, a passion that could only be from God and their passions met. Together they found a way to minister to the needs they saw. As we enter a time of reflection and communion with God through prayer. Let us leave our doubt behind us and let us press on to that passionate life with God where we can be sent out to continue the ministries He began. The ministries of love, forgiveness, and redemption. Let us be a community loving God, embracing the Holy Spirit, and living Christ’s love with others.

 

Trying out something new.

Spanish Translation

Arabic Translation

Russian Translation

Finnish Translation

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About jwquaker

I’m sure everyone wants to know who I am…well if you are viewing this page you do. I’m Jared Warner and I am a pastor or minister recorded in the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Yearly Meeting. To give a short introduction to the EFC-MA, it is a group of evangelical minded Friends in the Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. We are also a part of the larger group called Evangelical Friends International, which as the name implies is an international group of Evangelical Friends. For many outside of the Friends or Quaker traditions you may ask what a recorded minister is: the short answer is that I have demistrated gifts of ministry that our Yearly Meeting has recorded in their minutes. To translate this into other terms I am an ordained pastor, but as Friends we believe that God ordaines and mankind can only record what God has already done. More about myself: I have a degree in crop science from Fort Hays State University, and a masters degree in Christian ministry from Friends University. Both of these universities are in Kansas. I lived most of my life in Kansas on a farm in the north central area, some may say the north west. I currently live and minister in the Kansas City, MO area and am a pastor in a programed Friends Meeting called Willow Creek Friends Church.

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