Friday, April 29, 2005

Hymn - “Christ Jesus Lifted High”

“Christ Jesus Lifted High”

Tune: Vruechten
(“This Joyful Eastertide”
Hymn #140 from Lutheran Worship)
for Ascension Day

Christ Jesus lifted high,
His heav’nly throne assuming,
Now caught up in the sky,
His rightful place resuming.

Christ Jesus, glorified,
His work on Earth, thus ended,
Now reigns for us on high,
For Christ, our Lord ascended, ascended, ascended,
Praise now the Christ ascended.

Returned to God’s right hand,
Christ Jesus for us reigning,
True God, yet still true man,
Our crown of life retaining.


The Lamb who once was slain,
Alive again, victorious,
Redemption he obtained,
His cross the symbol glorious.


Until he comes again,
With all his hosts attending,
Our trust in him remains,
Our faith is never-ending.


© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Hymn - “Lord Jesus In High Priestly Prayer”

“Lord Jesus In High Priestly Prayer”

Tune: O Grosser Gott
”O God of God, O Light of Light”
Hymn # 83 from Lutheran Worship
Based on John 17:1-11

Lord Jesus in high priestly prayer,
Who knew his death was drawing nigh
His cross to face, our sins to bear
Prayed to his Father, “Glorify!
For you have given all to me,
That I might give eternal life.
My work for you is now complete.
Hear, now, my prayer, O God on high.”

“Concerning those you gave to me,
They still are yours, your word they hear
They in the Son the Father see,
And Holy Father, you they fear.
I pray for them, remaining here,
Protect them in all that they do.
I pray for them, O Father, dear,
As I will soon return to you.”

“Protect them by your holy Name
Protect them with its pow’r of love,
That Name I bear, which is the same,
As soon I’ll reign with you above.
O make them one, as one are we
With truth and Spirit sanctify,
O grant to them true unity,
And by your Son be glorified!”

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.


Well, write down this date. You thought it would never happen. But for once, I find myself in agreement with the leader of the increasingly troubled ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

(surprised "Preachrblog" reader)

Bishop Hanson has commented on Senator Frist's recent telecast to churches regarding the Bush judicial nominees and the Democratcic filibusters. You can read the full text of his letter here.

But the highlights, IMHO, are italicized, and commented on:

As Lutherans, we share a common faith in Jesus Christ, a love of the gospel and, in the tradition of Martin Luther, a healthy respect for the separation of church and state

Ok, Rev. Hanson. Though we don't use that language to express the idea, preferring Luther's terminology of the "Right and Left Hand Kingdom", "separation of church and state" is the nearest reasonable facsimile in non-theological terms.

And I too, have a problem with politicians pushing political issues in churches.

NOT that I don't have STRONG political beliefs... I do. I just don't feel it's my place as a preacher of God's Word to mingle my own personal beliefs and politics with the preaching of the truth of the Gospel.

Hanson goes on: ...respectfully ask that you cease judging whether or not people have faith by how they choose to express that faith on political issues.

Yes. Faith in God doesn't mean voting Republican or Democrat.

My approach to political issues, as a preacher, is this: Teach what the Bible says on the "issues": Homosexuality, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Love for Neighbor, etc... And where the Bible stops - STOP!

The people of God can "connect the dots" on these issues - figuring out how to apply best what the Bible teaches in terms of public policy.

Oh, and on "issues" to which the Bible doesn't speak, REMAIN SILET. I would argue that "rules about filibusters for judicial nominees" falls into this category.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Well, I'm definitely not a Taoist!

I just took the BELIEF-O-MATIC quiz. Here are my results (the religious groups I am most in agreement with - according to the quiz):

1. Eastern Orthodox (100%)
2. Roman Catholic (100%)
3. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (98%)
4. Seventh Day Adventist (86%)
5. Orthodox Quaker (78%)
6. Orthodox Judaism (71%)
7. Islam (65%)
8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (60%)
9. Hinduism (59%)
10. Jehovah's Witness (56%)
11. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (54%)
12. Sikhism (44%)
13. Bahá'í Faith (40%)
14. Liberal Quakers (35%)
15. Jainism (33%)
16. Reform Judaism (31%)
17. Unitarian Universalism (27%)
18. Mahayana Buddhism (26%)
19. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (26%)
20. Theravada Buddhism (25%)
21. New Thought (21%)
22. Scientology (20%)
23. Neo-Pagan (19%)
24. Nontheist (18%)
25. New Age (11%)
26. Secular Humanism (8%)
27. Taoism (6%)

Where the heck is Lutheran????

This was an interesting test, if only that it suggested which religions are closer, and further away.

Oh, and there was the one question about salvation - and NONE of the answers reflected being saved by "grace alone". Sad.

So then I started to take the "What's Your Spiritual Type?" quiz, and then stopped. The answers to their quiz questions don't really offer a Lutheran good options.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hymn - “Christ Jesus Once, For All Has Died”

“Christ Jesus Once, For All Has Died”
Tune: Ich Singe Dir
(Hymn # 151 from Lutheran Worship
“O Christ, Our Hope”)

Christ Jesus once, for all has died,
His righteousness to give.
His Spirit brings us back to God,
His death so we may live.

The Spirit who had raised the Christ,
Then brought the Christ to Hell,
To Satan and the spirits there,
His victory to tell.

Those who in Noah’s day had known,
God’s judgment in the flood,
Would hear a proclamation now,
From Christ, the Son of God.

As waters cleansed the ancient earth,
And saved those faithful eight,
So in the waters of His grace,
God saves and recreates.

Praise Christ, once risen from the dead,
Ascended now on high,
At God’s right hand, in power now,
He makes us, too, alive!

Based on 1 Peter 3:18-22

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sermon - Easter 5 - John 14:1-6

Easter 5 – April 24th, 2005
John 14:1-6
“Which Way?”

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I. Introduction –
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so the saying goes.

An old man lived alone in Idaho. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was backbreaking work, and his son, Bubba, who used to help him, was in prison.

The old man mentioned it in a letter he sent to his son by saying, “I’m not sure exactly what to do. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. It looks like I won’t be able to plant that garden this year after all.”

A few days later, he received a short letter from his son, “Dad, For heaven’s sake, don’t dig up that garden that’s where I buried the bodies!”

At 4 a.m. the next morning, a crew of police officers, and the FBI arrived to find the bodies. After digging for hours, they gave up and apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
“Dear Dad, under these circumstances, that’s the best I can do, go ahead and plant your potatoes now.”

Bubba couldn’t do it himself, so he got the garden dug a different way.

We live in a world which teaches there are many ways to do things. Many ways to write a letter, paint a picture, raise a child. But there are some things that doesn’t work with. For some things, there is only one way.
Or, there is the right way and the wrong way.

When it comes to things spiritual, there is really only one way. And that way is Jesus. He says so himself. Let’s get a handle on this beloved passage from John’s Gospel, by focusing on this question, “which way?”

II. Where are we going?
“Where are we going?” So the wife asked her chauffer (who happened to be her husband) as they drove down the road. “Trust me” he said, “This is a shortcut”. “Why don’t you stop and ask for directions!” “Because I know where I’m going”. Yeah. Right.

Everyone wants to go to heaven. But how do we get there? Where are we going? Can we be sure? Do I have to be a good enough person – do lots of charitable, loving things? Follow the Ten Commandments? What if I break one, or two, or a few more than that? How good must I be? The Bible says perfect. How do I do that? Where am I going? How do I get where I want to be?

Often, we are lost. But we don’t want to admit it. Thomas had no problem admitting his confusion, his lack of understanding, his lost-ness. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Sin muddies the waters. It takes us off course. It turns us all around. In fact, according to our sinful nature, our destination is not a very pleasant one at all, “Broad is the way that leads to destruction”, so it is written.

Sin is a road that leads to death. And it is so steeply downhill, this road, that we cannot escape the destination. We are barreling headlong and helpless toward a dead-end, in every sense of the word.

Jesus, who knows our condition well, knows which way we’re going. But which way is Jesus going? That’s important too!

III. Where is Jesus going?
Unlike us, Jesus knows where he is going. Unlike us, he is not lost or astray. When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, his series of “farewell addresses”, he knew that soon he would be leaving them, and leaving this world. He would be returning to his father, and he would no longer be present among them (at least in the same exact way).

Jesus had a course charted out. He knew the way. And that road, that path, led always to the cross. The way of the cross. That’s Jesus way. When Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for the disciples, he means he is going to the cross. There, at the cross, Jesus pays for our sins and pays our way to heaven by his blood. There at the cross, Jesus builds for us mansions in heaven – and guarantees us eternity with the father. It’s not after his ascension that he goes to prepare a place for us – but it is there in the suffering and dying for our sins that the work is done, that “it is finished!”

In his empty tomb we can see the way it will be for us – as we too will rise from the grave and live. He the firstborn of the dead, he has led the way for us to follow in him.

And yes, though he has now ascended to the Father, Jesus does promise to return for us someday. Either when we too pass through the grave and gate of death – or if we should live to see the day that he comes again in glory.

Where is Jesus going? To the cross for us. To death and to life again for us. To the right hand of the Father for us. Why? For us – to be OUR WAY – truth and life.

Jesus says, very clearly, “I am the way… No one comes to the Father but by me.”

That means there is an exclusivity of the Christian faith that our postmodern culture is not comfortable with. That Jesus claims to be the ONLY way – well, that offends people. People want to respect the other “ways”:

We’ve been studying various other religions in our Sunday morning Adult class. We’ve seen how Buddhism teaches that the ultimate goal is Nirvana where all pain and suffering exist no more. And the way to reach this Nirvana is by following the 8-Fold Path to Enlightenment, and then you reach that place of total nothingness.

In Hinduism, the ultimate goal also is Nirvana, but Nirvana is different. Instead of being snuffed out like a candle, Nirvana for a Hindu is being reunited with the all- pervading force of the universe through reincarnation. Depending on how you live your life determines whether you move up or down the food chain.

In Islam, heaven is a paradise of wine, women, and song. And the way to achieve this blissful paradise is, ironically, to abstain from these things in this world. In addition, a Muslim must follow the Five Pillars of Islam to achieve paradise.

And, of course, Judaism denies that Jesus Christ is Lord. That it is through the following of the Law that one obtains eternal life. But one is never able to live up to the Law 100% so…what do you do?

These so-called ways to God and to paradise completely contradict Christianity. They contradict Christ. Each, in its own way, teaches that the way to get there (heaven, Nirvana, whatever) is through YOUR human effort.

Even many Christians give a nod to the idea that each religion is a different way to God. But if you could get to heaven and to the Father any old way – if the Jew and the Buddhist and the Muslim and the whatever – as long as you really believe SOMETHING. Then why the cross? Why the resurrection? Why did Jesus bother at all? If my own efforts can prevail – or if there is another way – then Jesus was wasting his time and his holy precious blood.

And some Christians get off the track here, thinking there is another way WITHIN Christianity. How many prayers are offered to Mary or some other saint – as if they too are a way to the Father. But doesn’t scripture say, “there is one mediator between God and men – the man Christ Jesus”? (1 Timothy 2:5) Some Christians think that a strong enough commitment to Christ or decision for him is what is needed. But he says, “You did not choose me, I chose you!” (John 15:16).

The truth is: Jesus is the only way. And thank God he has made himself known to us. Thank God he has shown us the way, himself. That he comes to us, still, in his word. That he forgives us, still, by our baptism. That he strengthens us for the journey with his Holy Meal. Through Him, we are lost no longer. Through Him we can see the holy light of heaven at the end of life’s tunnel. In Him, and by Him alone. For His is the way.

That Jesus is the way – provides comfort that cannot be found elsewhere. It’s why he can say, “do not let your hearts be troubled”. Because trusting in God and trusting in him – we know we are in good hands. Trusting in ourselves – well, we fail. We get lost. But Jesus knows the way, for He is the way. Jesus tells the truth for he is the truth. And Jesus gives us life – his own life – that we too might have life in him. That’s the way! That’s the only way. In Jesus Christ. Amen.

V. Conclusion
The many ways of the world may leave us, like the disciples, confused. But Jesus is the Way. Through Him we know the Father. And in Him, we have Truth and Life.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Showdown at Parkside

So yesterday I participated in a panel discussion at Parkside(our local UW campus).
The appointed hour was 12:00 P.M.

The topic, I was told, would be Gay Marriage (pro/con). The topic, it turned out to be, was "Homosexuality: Is it a Sin?". OK. Close enough.

I was under the impression there would be 3 pro and three con panelists - local clergy of different flavors. It turned out to be:

A Buddhist (a student)
A Wiccan (a student)
A Unitarian Clergy-woman
A Native American Shaman (a student, I think, though older)
An ELCA Pastor

Me (of course)
A C.O.G.I.C. Deaconess
A Muslim woman
A "Non-denominational" Student
A Student rep. from Campus Crusade for Christ (or was it Inter-varsity?)

So with so many voices, it was hard to get a word in edgewise, especially in the short time allotted. I was surprised there was no Roman Catholic representative, but I suppose they are a little busy this week with the new pope and all.

Seriously, though, it seems that this 31-flavors approach did not present an accurate cross-section of our society, at least in terms of the sheer number of adherents represented. I mean, how many Wiccans and Buddhists are there around here, anyway?

I am not sure much progress was made, but the discussion was at least civil (more so than I expected). I found myself speaking much of sin and repentance, also forgiveness in Christ.

The ELCA pastor talked about the "gift of homosexuality" and claimed it wasn't spoken of in the Bible (at least, not in its current form - you know, the committed relationships). I don't recall him mentioning Christ. He did, however seem to have adopted much of the language of "faithful journey" and "having the conversation" that spews from the ELCA oligarchy.

The others spoke, largely, as I expected. Except I was impressed by the student from CCC, who actually QUOTED LUTHER! Nice.

Because of the time constraints and competition to say anything memorable, I found myself speaking more and more in "soundbytes". We each got a chance to make a closing statement, and I decided to keep mine short:

"In today's world, it's becoming more and more, that the only sin left is to tell someone they are wrong. I think THAT is wrong."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hymn - "Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled"

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled
Tune: Angel’s Story
“O Savior, Precious Savior” Lutheran Worship Hymn # 282

“Let not your hearts be troubled
Believe in God and me.
I’ll soon go to my Father,
But this I guarantee:
When I go to his mansions,
And place for you prepare
Then will I be returning
So you may join me there”

“We know not where you’re going,
How can we know the way?”
Tell us, Lord, how to get there,
Direct us, Lord, we pray.
“If you would know the Father,
If God you want to see,
You already have seen him,
For he is here in me.”

“I am the Way to Heaven,
I am the only Truth,
The Life of all the Living,
My resurrection proof.
Let not your hearts be troubled
And rest your souls at ease
None come unto the Father
Except who come through me.”

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"The Law is but a Mirror Bright..."

Every pastor has his favorite story which he uses again and again to illustrate a point. Mine has to do with the second use of the law - the law as a mirror.

When I was a vicar in Warren, Michigan, one of my duties was to give a brief devotion at the local nursing home each month. The staff would wheel in all the residents to the large common area, and park them there to hear me.

Most days, I was sure no one heard much of anything, as some suffered from dementia, and many slept the whole time I spoke (which was good practice for being a preacher - just kidding).

Anyway I tried to keep the talks simple. I was talking one day about the law of God, and how it shows our sins - like a mirror. In fact, I had with me a hand-held mirror as an object lesson. As I looked in the mirror, I talked about all that I noticed about myself that was wrong - everything I didn't like.

"Maybe I see my eyes, and I don't like their color. Maybe I see a blemish or a scar. Maybe I don't like the shape of my chin..."

And just when I was about done and ready to make my next point, one gravelly voice from the back of the hall spoke up loudly...


Great. At least I knew someone was listening.

But that voice. The voice from the back of the hall - that too is the voice of the law, pointing out sin. Just when you think you have exhausted it - just when you think you know your many sins - the law speaks up again and shows you somthing else.

Lex Semper Accusat. Indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Planning Your Funeral

Pastor Todd Wilken, of "Issues, Etc..." posed some interesting questions on a recent edition of the program. What hymns and passages would you choose to be sung and read at your own funeral?

Here are my current favorites:

1. This Joyful Eastertide (my favorite Easter hymn)
2. A Mighty Fortress (of course)
3. Abide With Me (for the sappy sentiment factor)

1. Psalm 51 (I have always identified with David)
2. Matthew 28, the Great Commission (and my Confirmation passage)
3. Romans 1:16-17 (I am not ashamed of the Gospel... the righteous live by faith)

What would you choose?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

ELCA and HOMOSEXUALITY - Moving Closer

The Churchwide Council of the ELCA took steps this week to move forward with the recommendations of their recent "study". Namely, to continue disapproving of practicing gay clergy, but not to enforce such disapproval. This summer's convention will consider the pertinent resolutions, and we will be watching very closely what happens.

It seems the ELCA is marching headlong into acceptance of the gay agenda, and drifting further from Scripture all the time. Pray for those faithful Christians fighting to keep the ELCA from going down this road.

Rev. McCain has posted the most recent news release and a commentary on these events from a leading Southern Baptist theologian. Well worth the read.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Jesus - Not a Wimp!

An interesting article about a new book "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow.

Read the article here

My favorite blurb:
...churches need to "recover the masculinity of Jesus." The author says Jesus as described in scripture was and is "a very bold, aggressive character, but we [in the modern Church] have turned him into a wimp -- and men don't follow wimps. They follow leaders."

Hymn - “Lord, Faithful Shepherds Grant Your Sheep”

“Lord, Faithful Shepherds Grant Your Sheep”
Tune: Just As I Am
“O God of Mercy, God of Light”
Hymn # 397 from Lutheran Worship

Lord, faithful shepherds grant your sheep,
That all you call, you also keep.
May they your word and voice so speak,
That all is done in you.

Since you have called your sheep by name,
Guard and defend us all the same,
For in the waters you did claim,
Our lives belong to you.

Keep and defend us from the thief,
From his temptations, grant relief,
So that in all our joy or grief,
We rest secure in you.

Bless us, your flock, and be our gate,
Through you we find a heavenly fate.
Until you call us home, we wait,
Then we shall live with you.

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Revelation - The Movie

How many times can this be done, really? A Hollywood scheme to tap into our fascination with the occult, mingled with a misunderstanding of Holy Scripture. Let's see... Schwarzenegger did it... Demi Moore.... How many other apocalyptic knock-off movies have there been? Puh-leez. Too many.

Having said all that, yes I will probably see this one too. I get asked about these kinds of movies, and I think it helps me answer the questions if I have seen it too.

Here's the link if you wanna see what I am complaining about:

At least they got it right and didn't call it "RevelationS!"

That's an even bigger pet peeve.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hymn - "The Road to Emmaus"

“The Road to Emmaus”
Tune: Walther
(Hymn # 138, "He's Risen, He's Risen" from Lutheran Worship)

The road to Emmaus Christ Jesus now walks,
Along with those disciples the Risen Lord talks.
“Where have you been, stranger, oh have you not heard?
For Jesus they killed, He who brought us God’s word.”

“A powerful prophet, in word and in deed,
We hoped he was the one who would Israel redeem,
But chief priests and elders, they handed him o’er,
Oh stranger, this happened, just three days before.”

“But early this morning, the women, they say,
That Jesus’ tomb was empty, and we are amazed,
For angels they saw, and to our great surprise,
The angels proclaimed that the Lord was alive!”

“How foolish,” said Jesus, “How slow to believe,
For all you have spoken the prophets did see”
He opens the scriptures, he opens their eyes,
To see how the Christ had to suffer and rise.

The journey continues ‘til evening is nigh.
“Oh stranger, now stay with us, say not goodbye”
At table, the Lord, who had once been concealed,
With bread broken, for them, he now is revealed.

Our hearts burn within us, we ask you to stay,
To walk with us and speak, and to bless us this day.
Your body, your blood, in the wine and the bread,
Receiving your gifts, we no longer are dead.

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sermon - Easter 2 - John 20:19-31

Easter 2 – April 3rd, 2005
John 20:19-31
“Eyewitness News”

I. Introduction – Here we stand, one week away from the empty tomb of Easter. For the rest of the world, it’s time to move on. But for the Chrsitian church, Easter goes on. Not only is Easter celebrated every Sunday, we have a whole season – 6 weeks after Easter, in which to reflect on its meaning and significance.

Today we read the traditional text for the week following Easter – it is the story of Jesus’ 2 appearances to the Apostles – one, actually on Easter Sunday. The second, a week later. Usually the preacher offers a sermon on doubting and faith, and recalls old “doubting Thomas”. But there’s more to this Sunday than the Sunday School story.

The theme running through each of our readings, besides that Christ is risen, is that there were witnesses to his resurrection. People who saw him alive again. And it is these witnesses who shared the news with others, and others, and throughout the ages – so that we have finally heard the news, and believed. Eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ – living, breathing, eating, speaking, and being touched. He truly is alive, that’s the good news of the Easter Gospel!

So as I thought about all this, I recalled that growing up in Baltimore, we watched local news on channel 13 – “Eyewitness News” And I got to thinking. How the message of our faith, that is, the Good News of Easter – has come to us: It too has come from Eyewitnesses. But more than any local, late-breaking, evening news… this morning we recall again the old, old story – that news which makes us new. Jesus is alive! And by him, so are we.

II. Top Story: Peace and Forgiveness
The newscast- any newscast- begins with the top story. The most important, or at least the most urgent. Fire in an apartment building. Scandal at City Hall. Terrorist attack kills dozens. Bank robber on the loose.

So often, the news in our world is bad news. Oh, they may try to soften the blow by adding a fluff piece on a dedicated teacher, or a cat saved by a fireman. But really, does that take away the sting of the school shooting or the earthquake in Indonesia, or the Court-sanctioned starvation of a brain damaged woman? Sin is all around us. But it’s not just the sin of others that is “bad news”. We have enough sins of our own to worry about. We surely don’t want our sins, our dirty laundry to make the news. But God would know our faults and failings. He knows all.

Then there’s Jesus. Oh sure, there was some bad news concerning him, too. He had been convicted and executed. The whole city was abuzz with the news. The great prophet, teacher and miracle-worker was crucified. Some found that to be good news. But for his followers, it was devastating. For his disciples, they feared they might be next…. Huddled in a room with doors locked. Perhaps they were trying to figure out what to do, where to go next. Perhaps they were just shell-shocked. Peter and John had come with the story of the empty tomb. The women were talking about angels, and even seeing Jesus themselves. Fear, confusion, and uncertainty ruled the day.

And then, there is Jesus! He appears to them. Miraculously, the Risen Lord comes. And the first words he utters are not an excoriation for the disciples. He doesn’t scold them for deserting him in his hour of need. He does not criticize them for their fear of the Jews. He does not up-braid Peter for denying him three times. Instead, he offers peace. “Peace be with you”. It’s an absolution. It’s as if Jesus says, “Everything is all right now. All is forgiven. I am alive!”

His “Top Story” is not the bad news of Good Friday, but the Great Good News of Easter! His first priority is to bring peace and forgiveness.

The disciples then receive a gift, a charge from the Lord. The power to forgive sins in his name. We learn about this in our catechism as the “office of the keys”. Jesus means for his forgiveness to be given not only to these apostles, but to all who would believe in him. As he breathes his spirit on them, he is really breathing forgiveness on the whole church. For Jesus, the top story is always the Gospel – the forgiveness of sins found in Him.

III. Film at 10: Seeing and Believing
What newscast today doesn’t try for the great footage, the intense video? We’ve all seen the poor reporter who is sent out in the middle of a hurricane, just to give us a visual of how strong the winds really are. It seems with any story, be it at City hall or at the top of a ski hill, a reporter is sent to the scene. To see it first hand, to bring you an “eyewitness” perspective.

Poor Thomas. Whatever he was doing that first Easter, he missed the Lord’s appearance. And rather than believe the eyewitness account of his fellow apostles, he goes on a rant about needing proof - even touching the wounds of Christ. For Thomas, seeing was believing. And we have poked fun at him for thousands of years, we in the church, chuckling at his silly disbelief and doubt.

But as we do so, we do it to ourselves. For we all have our doubting Thomas moments. Our faith flags and wavers, especially in the tough times. We are not immune to the Thomas syndrome – the doubting of our Lord and his life and his love. We need the encouragement and the reminders just the same. We need forgiveness too, for our doubt.

So our Lord appeared to Thomas, met him where he was, gave him what he needed, and more. Thomas confessed his faith, “My Lord and my God!” and Jesus grants him that blessing. But more blessed, Jesus says, are those who do not see and yet believe. Jesus was thinking future believers. Like us.

Though we don’t see him, hear him and touch him like Thomas did, we do see him, hear him and touch him in other ways. Though he is not present in our midst the same as he was on those Sunday appearances, he is present in our midst each Sunday in this place. Jesus is present in his word. Jesus is present in his meal. He lives in us by our baptism, as does his Spirit.

We do not see him as they did long ago, with their very eyes. But we see him through the eyes of faith. We do not see him, physically, as they did, but we will one day when he returns in glory. We do not touch him as Thomas did, but we touch him in the bread and wine. We do not hear him as the apostles did, but we hear him in the voice of absolution, “I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. It’s our own Christian multi-media experience of the Risen Lord Jesus!

IV. Health Report: Believing and Life

And what news program is offered today without a health report, often by the designated “health reporter”. But our news report today is not about the benefits of granola, or the fading popularity of the Atkins diet. While getting your exercise is certainly a good thing to do, the health John writes about brings more than cardiovascular benefits.

John piques our imagination by hinting at the many other miracles Jesus performed. But the point here in John’s Gospel is not sensationalism, or tabloid journalism. What he records, he does with a purpose. That even though we have not seen, we may believe. And that by believing, we would have life in his name.

Life. That’s the real point of the Gospels, of the Scriptures, of the Resurrection and of the Resurrected one. Jesus came to bring life – to us who were dead in sin, who were helpless and hopeless. He brings life, abundant, full, real, eternal. We have it already in him. We will have it more fully in the world to come.

Such is the life that he gives – it comes by faith in Jesus. It comes through the word and in the sacraments. And such life is eternal. Like Jesus, who lives forever, so shall we. That’s the ultimate health report. He lives, and we live in Him!

Eyewitness News. It’s more than an evening television show, it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ – brought to you by those who saw him risen from the grave. For he brings peace and forgiveness to us all. He grants faith and blessings even though we haven’t seen. And such faith brings life.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” Indeed. In His Name, Amen.

V. Conclusion
Thank God for the faithful witness of those who have gone before us. As they report Jesus’ resurrection, and we believe the news – we too have “life in His Name!” Amen.