Death and Ritual - Holy and Mundane
Do You Love Me?

So Send I You

THOMASCaravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610

Psalm 150
New International Version

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord. 


New Testament Lesson

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” - Acts 5:27-32, NIV


 Kings and Priests

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” - Revelation 1:4-6

There has been a societal emphasis on self-esteem and feeling good about ourselves. Children with a distorted concept of themselves grow into troubled adults. Without a sense of value and worth, people disrespect themselves and tend to disrespect others. Sometimes this disrespect leads to crime or anti-social behaviors. It is self-destructive and manifests itself in unhealthy families. It is visited upon children and children’s children.

But the remedy is not found in superficial affirmations of our essential worth or in the denial of sin and darkness. It is to be found in God and His esteem for us. He loves us because of His amazing grace, tender mercy, and sovereign choice. All of this was bestowed while we were yet sinners. He saw what we could be.

God has called us out of darkness.  He has freed us from sin by the blood of His Son so that every impediment to our becoming who we were intended to be, has been removed. 

The outcome is that God’s vision of us as His people is an elevated vision.  He does not look upon His children, who have received His grace, as miserable sinners.  He sees us as a kingdom of priests who serve and exalt Him.  That is who we are.  All other visions of self are false and fading.  It is by grace, and it is complete.  God’s glory is manifest in His loving esteem for us.  We are kingdom people, and we are priestly people with a high calling and a sanctified s us.

Alpha and Omega

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. “- Revelation 1:8

Everything is wrapped up in the babe who was wrapped in swaddling clothes. In a tiny bundle of newborn humanity is the sum total of all truth and meaning. In that crude cradle of creation lay the Creator of the universe. His Incarnation condensed into one representative human life the start and finish of history and the cosmos. Though He presented Himself in time and space as a participant in our history, He is beyond history. He is the Lord of eternity, the Almighty. And we knew it not.

The grand spiritual, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” say it succinctly, “We didn’t know it was you.”

But it was Him and is Him and always will be Him? What child is this? Oh, so much more than we could ever imagine. He is Alpha and Omega, the A and the Z. He starts things and finishes them. He always was and yet, is present. And He always will be. Divine mystery is flesh. John wrote that we could touch Him, the Word of Truth.

“What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss” to come and live among us? We didn’t know who He was and John, in the Revelation of Jesus Christ allows us to see what He saw, and He conveys to us His vision of the risen and exalted Christ, the Eternal One.


Intercessory Prayer

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002

O God, your Son remained with his disciples after his resurrection,
teaching them to love all people as neighbors.
As his disciples in this age,
we offer our prayers on behalf of the universe
in which we are privileged to live
and our neighbors with whom we share it.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

Open our hearts to your power moving
around us and between us and within us,
until your glory is revealed in our love of both friend and enemy,
in communities transformed by justice and compassion,
and in the healing of all that is broken. Amen.


The Gospel

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:19-31

The Sending

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  -John 20:21

Peace settles things. 

It allows the right order and relationship and brings vision into focus. 

It is absolute well-being, and it is the gift of the Risen Christ. 

His peace does more than just calm the soul, however; it enlivens the spirit and prepares us for a calling.  In our vision of the resurrected Lord, is a clear and compelling message from God:

As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so we are being sent by Jesus. 

He came as a servant; we have been sent to serve. 

He came in the power of the Holy Spirit; we go forth in that same power. 

He came to do great works; we have been sent to do greater works because He indwells us. 

He came to die; we die to self that we may live to Him. 

This commission is neither symbolic nor optional. 

It is not an addition to His promise of peace; it a result of it and reason for it.  It cannot be realized by proxy. 

We have been commissioned. 

We are sent.