Recalled to the Manufacturer
A sermon on 1 Peter 1:3-9, Acts 2:25-28, John 20:19-22
The second Sunday of Easter (Year A) 1/05/11
Pastor Heath Pukallus Katanning-Narrogin Lutheran Parish
Recalled to the Manufacturer
There's nothing more disappointing than the day one gets a product home and on using it for the first time, finds that there's a problem and it needs to be returned to the manufacturer to be corrected, to be put right or fixed.
This is made worse when it's a present for a child whose long expected gift doesn't work, while everyone else's toy is fine. It's not hard to hear and see their disappointment.
Or you've just built something, sewn some choice material, or planted an expensive tree, to watch it not function in the way you'd expected, or to die for no known reason.
When this happens, we tend to feel let down, but to save face we take the product or part back to the retailer, so it might be returned to the manufacturer for replacement or repair.
Then again you might have bought a car or gone shopping and purchased your regular groceries. Everything seems fine, but then through the media or post comes the news there's a product recall in full swing, and your car or product qualifies to be returned to the manufacturer to be modified, fixed, or replaced. Perhaps there is relief, because you had noticed some ill effects starting to creep in, or consumption might have meant grave illness or death.
Last Sunday, all creation celebrated the anniversary of the resurrection of God's one and only Son, and many of us ate chocolate eggs in celebrating Jesus' new life, and ours with him too.
We also heard that the resurrection events will also shake us and our world. Jesus is coming again to take us to himself, but in the meantime he warns us in his word that rough times are ahead and calls us to stand firm through them. All earthly things and our reliance on them, and perception of them will be torn away, and for very good reason. As we are shaken by these stripping events we will see our Saviour come and your resurrection will be revealed in all of Christ's glory.
Today continues that resurrection glory theme, one week after our resurrection remembrance at Easter, as we focus on the events of the first week surrounding the disciples' world view being shaken through Jesus' death and resurrection.
These men were shaken in every way. We heard in the gospel that they cowered behind closed doors in fear of the Jews. If the Christ, the Son of God, who came to take away the sin of the world, could be crucified, then it's not hard to sense the fear these bumbling fishermen, tax collector and other disciples felt after one so powerful would die, in such a weak and humiliating way! They thought it was the end, and bitter death was forthcoming at any moment.
We know Christ died and was raised for the sake of God's love and will to forgive us, so we might live in peace with him forever. In fact, we have perfect twenty-twenty vision of these past events through his word, and receive the peace of God that passes all human understanding quite freely. But like the disciples, waiting and peering into the unseen future, peace is sometimes harder to find, as we hang onto our perishable old world perception.
Let's now look at this from God's point of view. Imagine how disappointed God was when saw us — his new creation born into the world — fragile and easily shaken. Like a new gift, not working properly, in the hands of a child, God saw us as defective from the day we were born.
We were born malfunctioning! Left to our own devices, we were on a course leading to self destruction. God created us for life with him, and that means life forever. But our life was flawed by our sinful being; our living is actually the thing that is shaking us to death. Yet, this temporary life of self destruction is the life we seem to think is normal. But God knew it wasn't what he intended from before we were unwrapped from our mothers' wombs. Some of us don't even survive long enough to be born, and for us the ones who have survived birth, it's a mystery how we've existed as long as we have being as dysfunctional as we are!
So we operate in this life very much in a temporary existence, and like a dodgy piece of machinery we can and do conk out at any time. That in itself causes us to be shaken. We can be like the disciples waiting and cowering behind closed doors at the prospect of sudden death — fearing the worst at any time. We are tempted to hang onto and trust that which is perishing over against that which will live on forever.
But Jesus who was raised from the dead and now lives and rules eternally, has the same words for us as he did for the disciples. He says, "Peace be with you!" Using his written word, he then shows us he is present, risen and all-powerful over death. And naturally, we praise him for what he's done. He says, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on you in baptism and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:19-22) Now having received the Holy Spirit, it is his will to forgive you all your sins through those he calls to do so, as pastors, so you might live in peace, even in the midst of so much dysfunction and malfunction.
Realising the importance of King David's resurrection hope in Christ Luke quotes Psalm 16 in Acts 2 telling us, David said about him: "'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' (Acts 2:25-28 and Psalm 16:8-11)
So even as we operate in our temporary existence, and our whole world could be turned upside down at any time, we know God is with us, and although things might shake us we know that just as the Holy One was not eternally abandoned to the grave, nor will we.
You see God saw us in our haphazard state, and although he was disappointed with what we had become because of sin, he did something very powerful about it. We now live because of what he did; and that was to send us his Son to give eternal longevity to our lives. He also sends the Holy Spirit as well to show us Jesus' hidden presence. And the Holy Spirit makes us work in the way God intends until God himself recalls his faulty product to be eternally freed and fitted with the same risen glory in which Christ stands.
This is why Peter says… Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Let the inheritance, which is imperishable, rise in your lives as the perishable things are shaken away as you wait for the glorious day when you're recalled to the manufacturer for eternal improvement. We live temporary lives enduring many things, but we do so in the hope that one day we will live in permanent peace with he who intended us to live this way from the beginning of time. Amen.