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This Sunday’s Sermon: “Renovating Life – Easter’s Messy Side”
Note: The Daily Faith Builder Will Resume on Monday 19 April
Sunday Message
First United Methodist Church Meriden CT – 11 April 2021

John 20:24-31 “Renovating Life – Easter’s Messy Side” by Ric Hanse

Many Visits
On Easter morning Jesus rises from the dead and appears outside His tomb to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and several other women. On Easter afternoon the risen Jesus joins two of His followers as they travel the road that leads to their home in Emmaus. That evening the risen Jesus spends time with a group of his disciples. But one person is absent from all these appearances: Thomas. 
Not So Sure
Entering the house on Easter evening, Thomas is greeted with the news. “Thomas, you missed Him. Jesus was here! Jesus is alive. He ate dinner with us!” All week Thomas’ friends tell him about their experiences with Jesus. First at the cemetery. Next in Emmaus and finally in Jerusalem. Though the stories come from his closest friends, Thomas is still not sure about Jesus’ resurrection. If Jesus really is alive again and is appearing to all His followers, why hasn’t He taken the time to be with Thomas?
Thomas is not an unbeliever. He just isn’t convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. In this way, Thomas is no different from the others. Before coming face to face with the risen Jesus, none of the others believed the women’s words, “Jesus is alive!” until they too saw Jesus for themselves. 
A week after Easter, when the risen Jesus comes face to face with Thomas, Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!”  Like Jesus’ other close friends, Thomas needed to see the risen Jesus to believe.
The Bible’s Easter stories are wonderfully messy. The task of sharing the most important news in the history of humanity – that Jesus is alive – is given to women. In 27 A.D. a woman’s testimony counts for nothing in a court of law. But God who is supremely inclusive gives the job to the women. Jesus’ best friends do not believe He is alive. In fact, they think the women have lost their minds.
If the Bible gave a sanitized version of Jesus’ resurrection where the men were the first to discover Jesus was alive; where everyone believed Jesus was alive the moment they saw the empty tomb; where people left the cemetery not confused and frightened but happy and ready to enjoy Easter dinner, this would be a more challenging story to believe. This is way too neat. Life is not so tidy. Life is messy. Really messy.

We need a Savior who inhabits the messes and walks with us through life’s painful messiness. We need a Savior who loves us enough to be with us in the messiness of our confusion and doubt. We need a Bible that doesn’t sanitize history but tells the messy story of God’s people struggling to believe and be faithful. Thankfully, we have a Savior who walks us through the mess, and a Bible whose stories reflect the messiness of life and the loving presence of Jesus who brings us to places of faith.

Life is messy. Racism. Asian Hatred. A pandemic that has done horrific damage. Toxic political hatred. Family issues. Work problems. Life is messy. Thankfully so is the Easter Story! Easter’s messiness assures us that the story is real, that Jesus is alive and does whatever it takes to open us to His living presence and saving love which brings us through the worst of life’s messes.



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