2nd Sunday of Easter C
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
“Korean War, is it dejavu all over again?”
Before I begin my reflection this morning, let me greet you first with God’s peace. The peace of the Lord be with you all!
The reason I greet you with peace is because it is very alarming to hear and watch the news about the tensions going on in North Korea. It is only the 2nd Sunday in Easter and we are not greeted with Peace but rather, Fear. The United States began to deploy forces in the nearby countries like South Korea, Guam, Japan, Hawaii and others. Is it deja vu all over again? Another Korean War? When will human ever learn? Will Joan Baez sing her song “Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing? Gone to graveyard everyone, oh when will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?
Fear begins to envelope the homes of every family in the world today. On top of the fear of illness, of poverty, of loss of relationship, of humiliation, of loss of employment, of loss of security, fear of death, the most alarming is the fear of another world war. Remember that North Korea is not alone giving the threat to the USA and her allies, there is also IRAN, Venezuela and others. North Korea however seems to be tempted to become the bait of another chaos in the world. It seems that North Korea is willing to present her people to the table and die for the sake of IRAN and others. How many children in the world will be involved in this senseless ruthless hand of ignorance and devastations of war? For us, we can only gather in prayer and appeal to God to intervene by removing the clouds in the minds of the powerful leaders in the world and seek for Justice and peace, teach love and joy, not war.
We gather therefore in this blessed day to come together as a community and join the rest of the world in praying for peace. God is faithful and just, He will appear in the midst of our fear and bring us hope.
The Gospel of John tells us this morning that in the evening of the first easter, the disciples (minus Thomas) gathered in the upper room. For what purpose we do not know, but students of the Bible surmise that they assembled for prayer. John tells us that the following week they gathered in the upper room once again, this time Thomas with them. And Jesus appeared to them. That was the beginning of the custom of gathering together for worship on the first day of the week, instead of the last day. Easter in the Lord’s day, and every Sunday worship should be a celebration of the resurrection.
It inspires us to know that Jesus appears to us in our act of worship, when our common loyalty to him binds us together in Christian fellowship. He appears to those who truly seek him through prayer. He appears when two or three are gathered together in his name. He appears to honor our praises and thanksgiving and to make us more equipped for the tasks we have to do. He reveals his presence through the reading and preaching of the Word, through the singing of hymns and praises, through the sacraments, through every act of communion with God. He reveals himself to us in our various programs in the Church, in the hearts of our volunteers, in our fellowship in our meals, coffee and tea together, in our conversations, in our greeting each other with a smile. In spite of all our unworthiness, God is in His Holy Temple.
God also appears in our times of doubt. Thomas was not alone in this, there were others who doubted whether Jesus had really resurrected, even though they had already seen and worshipped him. We should be careful in condemning Thomas too quickly. His doubt need not be equated with lack of faith. There is a valid distinction between faith and mere credulity or a tendency to believe that something is real or true. There are times when doubt may be the proper response of a wise mind, and wise minds are the gift of God. The faith of a man who has known doubts is often stronger in the end than a simple uncritical faith. It is necessary for us to understand things that we can’t comprehend and hope to arrive with a clear mind that cements our faith and belief. Thomas faith became stronger when he saw the wounds in Jesus hands. God is always patient with our honest doubts. We may be convinced about the fact of the resurrection, but that is not the end of our doubts. Deep within our hearts we may be wondering whether God really cares. We may be troubled by the appalling increase of evil in the world just like that of North Korea’s threat of another world war, and we even wonder whether the forces of goodness have not become impotent. When our home is made desolate by the death of a loved one in spite our goodness to our neighbors and our faithfulness to the Church, are we not sometimes inclined to raise some questions about the goodness of our God? But moments like that can be moments of spiritual transformation, and our doubts can turn into the confident faith.
I have confidence that God has touched the minds and hearts of the leaders of forces of Goodness in the world. I have high hopes to the leadership of our president and the congress as well as the leaders of democracy in the world,
to avoid any possibilities of engaging to another war and do not bite the bait of what might be a result of another economic recession in this country and the world. I have confidence that this world is still a better place to live despite of the evil intentions of the enemy. God will carry us through the valley of the shadow of death. Let us therefore make this day a day of rededication and reconsecration. It is the most fitting act to celebrate God’s boundless mercy and goodness unto us. He wipes away our tears when grief visits our homes. He gives us solid hopes when we are sorely disappointed. He grants us the certainty of His abiding love even when we are being assailed by honest doubts. He gives us the courage and the strength we need for our daily work. He responds to our needs when we come to him through prayer and worship. He calms our nerves when in our anger or impulsiveness we behave as persecutors of the Christian fellowship. Christ can break through our locked doors and offers us a new life. God is the God who appears to us through the risen Christ. He deserves the fullest measure of our devotion.
So Just as Jesus greeted his disciples and family, “Peace be with you”, I greet you all with Peace. The peace of The Lord be always with you! Let us reassure each other of that peace that surround us, the peace that lives with us now and everyday. Amen.