Christ Lutheran Community Church

Upper Darby

April 19, 2020 Worship Sermon - "John 20"

Delivered by Rev. Stephen Keiser


Scripture:  Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

The doors of the house where the disciples met were locked for fear.

This year, all of us have a new understanding of what it means to be locked in.  In an email, Michael Joniec shared that he was beginning to understand why pets run out of the house when the door opens.  Day 7 at home and the dog is looking at me like, “See?  This is why I chew the furniture.”

Being locked in is not easy and it is not fun, so it’s good that we can find humor in our situation.  Finding ways to laugh is good medicine, especially now.

But locked doors are no obstacle for the risen Christ.  He passes right through the walls and speaks words of peace to the disciples.  And while the rest of us are using masks to prevent our breath from infecting others, Jesus ignores the rules and breathes the Holy Spirit into the disciples.

Thank God, the rules about social distancing do not apply to Jesus.  Even when we are locked away in isolation, Jesus finds a way to be with us.  Whether we are locked in because of a pandemic, or because of our fear, or because of our resentment - whatever causes us to lock ourselves in and everyone else out - Jesus passes through our locked doors in order to give us life.

Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit into the disciples reminds us of how God breathed life into Adam and Eve after creating them from the dust of the earth.  And when Jesus says “Peace be with you” to the disciples, the word for peace is the Hebrew word, shalom.  Shalom means so much more than the absence of disturbance.  Shalom is wholeness, shalom is security, shalom is having what you need to be the person God created you to be; shalom is healthy, life-giving relationships with other people and with God.  Again and again, Jesus speaks peace to the disciples.  Jesus continues to speak peace into your life today. 

In a few minutes, we will share the peace of Christ.  This has always been an important part of our worship on Sunday mornings, but we’re still trying to figure out how to do it by phone or zoom.  I encourage us to take our time with it.  Everyone doesn’t have to say “Peace be with you” all at once.  Let some people say it right at the beginning, let others wait a few seconds before saying it, let others wait a few seconds more.  And when you are not saying the words, let the words of peace spoken by others sink into your heart.  It is the resurrected body of Christ speaking to you, passing through whatever walls and locked doors surround you to give you deep, abiding shalom.