Homily: April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016, YEAR C; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar

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


They were afraid,

very afraid,


that the same leaders who had crucified Jesus

would soon be pounding on their door,

and doing the same to them.


That fear is totally understandable.

A few days before

the disciples had watched in horror as

their leader had been beaten, bloodied,

marched through the city

hung on a cross

and left to die.


Then, suddenly,


on Sunday evening,

Christ appears among them, ignoring the locked doors.


Christ blesses them with messages of peace, purpose and forgiveness.


What are you and I afraid of today?


Losing our jobs,

our loved ones,

our health?


We have a lot to worry about.


We huddle behind our locked doors

not unlike like those first disciples.


If we ever believed that resurrection would be a snap,

John’s gospel suggests what we need to do

In order to leave our own tombs,

Tombs where we,

Like the first disciples,

are walled in by our fears.


“Fear,” says German Chancellor Angela Merkel,

“has never been a good advisor.”


Having grown up in the former East Germany,

she knows a thing or two about fear,

its seductive and destructive powers.


But fear is a universal human emotion.


In our own day talk about “building walls” here and abroad,

the scapegoating of ethnic and religious groups,

has become all too familiar.


Much of this rhetoric is based on fear,

an emotion that leads us to believe

that we alone are in possession of “perfect” understanding,

that we are better than others,

more capable,

more holy,

more right.


What is the cure for this disease of fear?


We would do well to remember the words of the Apostle John

In his first letter:

“There is no fear in love,

but perfect love casts out fear”.


Think for a minute,

Of the example of the peaceful witness of Rose Hamid,

the Muslim woman ejected from a Trump rally.

She overcame her fear.


Visualize the image of a uniformed police officer

in Washington D.C. “breaking up” a group of rowdy and hostile teenagers

not with coercion or a taser

but with dance.


He overcame his fear.


Not insignificantly,

Jesus’ appearance in this context of fear

culminates with one of the distinctive marks of the Christian community,

the practice of forgiveness.


Forgiveness is not some magical hocus pocus

Where with a wave of the hand

The past is somehow changed or wiped away.


Forgiveness in Christ entails doubting our own fear-based conclusions.


Forgiveness calls us to trust in God’s power

to initiate resurrection in our midst,

precisely where we least expect it.


World renowned Zen master, spiritual leader,

And author

Thich Nhat Hanh said it well in his book,

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm


“The only way to ease our fear

and be truly happy

is to acknowledge our fear

and look deeply at its source.


Instead of trying to escape from our fear,

we can invite it up to our awareness

and look at it clearly and deeply.”


Where are you fearful today?

It is there,

And precisely there,

that the Risen Christ wants to meet us

and help us deal with our deepest fears.


There Christ says to us,

“Peace be with you.

All is forgiven.

All will be well.”