Almighty and everlasting God, in the mystery of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, you have established a bond between all of us, and You. You have made us born again into the fellowship of Christ’s body. Let us show in our lives what we say is our faith. Amen.
This is our faith: Christ came. He was real! People saw him. People learned from him. People betrayed him. People killed him.
Then … some women went to his tomb, and it was empty. Then, Jesus appeared to them.
You don’t believe it? You wonder, “Is it possible? Is it true? Is that what the Bible writers really meant for us to believe?”
Well, the one answer I stake my life on is “YES, the resurrection is true. It is possible. And that’s what the witnesses meant.”
Feel free to doubt. In fact, please doubt. But touch the evidence. Touch the body of faith – and see.
The body of faith is the church. Touch its side first. The written side. The writings of the apostles and their followers, from 2,000 years ago, is called the New Testament. It’s one side of the body of faith. It is eyewitness material, and it goes all the way back. Some of the apostles wrote their own stuff, and some let their followers write it down. Either way, touch the evidence. It is incredibly good.
If you won’t touch it all, then touch Paul’s body of writing. You could handle it in a couple of holy days of prayer and thought.
Paul only ever saw the resurrected Jesus. And it changed him forever. It blinded and killed the old man, and gave life and eyes to see to the new man. By the Christ working in him, Paul changed the world.
He witnesses to this in his writings. And we’ve got them.
What’s really cool – especially if you are at all skeptical about facts and such – you can examine his words for yourself. The ten or eleven letters which were really written by Paul’s own hand are so authentic – that nobody in their right mind – no matter whether they are agnostics, atheists or the Pope – doubts that Paul wrote these letters.
They are among the best attested witnesses to the first half of the first century in the world.
And they tell us everything about Jesus Christ we need to know. So much so, that if they were the only witness we had of Christ’s risen body, and the promise of the New Covenant in that risen Lord, we’d have it all.
There are other written witnesses too – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, etc. And they all say the same, simple, message:
Jesus came. He was to us the face of God. He was betrayed and killed. And while that happened we wept, and we ran, and we hid, and the only ones who kept the faith were a handful of marginal women from our group.
These women went to his tomb. And he was gone. On their way back they saw him just as I am standing here before you today. Then we saw Him too. Some of us doubted, but we touched his body, and there He was.
Friends, this simple story IS what the entire Church is built on. If you can get this, even if you can’t quite remember the rest, you’ve got it. He rose.
It wasn’t the disciples’ idea. It wasn’t their wish. It wasn’t even their dream. It was what happened. It was what God did.
And it freaked them all right out of their socks!!!
Just like it would for you. And should still – the hour you first believe it.
That’s what the risen body tells us, when we touch it and feel it’s side – its ancient written side.
The living body, the Body of Christ, witnesses to the same thing. It is here today, and it is in and between us. And we are it.
I am a member of the Body of Christ, and nothing more. You are members of the Body of Christ. As my final word to you, I composed the following short creed. It is all I ever really had to say to you in the five years I was here.
Jesus came. We killed him. He loved us anyway.
He forgave death. And death is done…….
So live in Christ my friends — so others might live too.
The written side and the living side of Christ’s body are one.
I believe the spirit calls you to put yourself into the Gospel. Become Thomas, and doubt, but touch the body before you and believe.
Become more alive in the Body of Christ, in this Body of Christ, in this church home. For Jesus is around you. You will touch and see him here – and then you can be his face of grace in the world.
I know the Body of Christ is here in this church, in this St. James’s, because I have touched his wounds here. I no longer doubt. I have seen his pain. I have walked with his hurt. I have laughed with his laugh.
I have seen the risen Body in You.
You have been my witnesses to the messiah. And you have shown me that God loves me, because he allowed me to be in a world where people like you exist.
Don’t just hear the word folks. Don’t just do the word either.
Be the Word. Amen.