Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: First Sunday after Easter - April 15, 2012

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Chinatown Tea Leaves - Photo by Elaine Tam

First Sunday after Easter - April 15, 2012

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
 
John 20:19-31 (ESV)
Throughout the book of John, we read and see signs. A good sign, by design, will be attractive in its own right while simultaneously directing our attention to something greater, something beyond the sign itself. Thus in John’s gospel, the miracle of the wedding at Cana points to the heavenly banquet to come, the healing of the official’s son to the hope and promise of perfect and complete healing in the future, the feeding of the 5000 to the Shepherd who leads His sheep to green pasture, and Jesus’ walking on water to the One who leads His people through the life’s troubled waters as if on dry land. After the resurrection of Jesus, John summarizes these signs by saying that “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The resurrection is the culmination of all these signs. It speaks to the fact that in the raising of Jesus Christ, we also have the promise of being raised to new life. It demonstrates to us that because Jesus overcame the grave, the grave has no power over us. It reminds us that because Jesus exited the grave as the first to experience life beyond death, we have the promise of life without death or even the fear of death.

Our lives are overwhelmed by the specter of death. We are fearful because we are afraid of having our lives in some way diminished. We are driven because of a desperate need to overcome the apparent limitations of our current lives. We are frustrated and angry because we believe that we have been deprived of a kind of life we think we are entitled to. To all these responses, we should be reminded that Jesus Christ is resurrected “so that...by believing you may have life in his name.” Put another way, the promise and experience of this resurrected life destroys death and its fearful specter. Do you have that life? Do you live as someone who is fully alive, or as one who is merely the walking dead? Have you tasted the life that Jesus Christ alone can bring? Jesus is raised to life, not so we can merely have life after death, but so that in life, we may fully live!
 
John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect from The Book of Common Prayer



Volunteer Supervisors Needed to Run Saturday Breakfast at Father's Heart Ministry!

Do you have a heart to serve Downtown?  Father's Heart Ministry is a non-profit that seeks to demonstrate God's love through practical expressions of compassion in the East Village. Their commitment and mission is to see the cycle of dependency and poverty broken, to restore dignity to individuals and an improved quality of life.

In an effort to restore a sense of dignity to those ordinarily relegated to food lines at traditional soup kitchens, the Father's Heart Hunger Prevention Program serves guests a hot breakfast in a restaurant style-seating to aproximately 700 guests. The Father's Heart and the Downtown Congregation is looking for dedicated and reliable servants to partner with us to serve as soup kitchen supervisors on Saturday mornings from 8:30am to noon (one Saturday per month). Supervisors will work in teams to lead a group of 10 volunteers at a station (i.e. cooking, distributing food, cleaning). 

If you are interested, there will be four mandatory training sessions: Tuesdays 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, and 5/8 from 7-9PM.  Please email Christine at fathersheartteamleader@gmail.com for more information and to sign up for the training sessions!

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