Believing is Seeing
by HW in HI
based on John 20:19-31
Drew and I were talking on the phone this week, while he was in the middle of studying.
We were setting things up for this weekend. And he repeated what he had told me a week
ago. He said he was exhausted and didnt want to preach. I told him that wasnt
a problem. Not because I had a sermon in my hip-pocket. I never do that... But I said to
him, Dont worry, just come. Your job is to be a sign of the resurrection.
It is fair to ask just how it is that one goes about being a sign of the resurrection.
I have come to believe that that is the job of every ordained minister. Simply to be a
sign. Simply to let our presence speak for the real presence of Christ. This morning I
want to go a little farther: that is the call of every Christian: to be a sign of the
A few months ago I was talking with a friend about difficulties she has with were
husband. No, he doesnt go here, and neither does she. The nature of their troubles
they are the kind of troubles every couple goes through at some time or other. She
was trying to get him to do something he had promised to do, but again he had disappointed
her. She said to me, How could I have believed him? I answered her, You
believe in the resurrection, right? And she said she did. Then she said, What
kind of priest are you, anyway. But I wasnt trying to be blasphemous. But how
could she believe in the resurrection, and not believe in her husband? If we believe
Christ has risen from the dead, then all things are possible!
The disciples were sitting around, a scared little band of followers. And I guarantee
they were tougher than any church I will ever be called to serve. There they were: scared,
probably fighting among themselvesand they had the door locked. Now, there are
turn-around churches, but this would be too much even for Billy Graham. Makes St. James
look pretty amazing by contrast, doesnt it alive, vital, wonderful. Anyway,
back to the first church ever. Any minister worth their salt would call up the Bishop and
say, Sorry. Im out of here. This is not a fight I can fight. But look
what happened. In the midst of all this misery, Jesus broke in. Jesus broke in, and he
didnt say, You guys are pathetic. Even though they were. And he didnt
say, excuse me. Where were you. Seems to me I was being crucified, and you took off.
And Peter I do recall the cock crowing... He didnt even say, Why didnt
you believe the two Marys when they told you I a, alive? No. He said nothing
of the sort. He said, Peace. He stood in their midst. And he breathed on them
and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.
And there we have it. The first church. Christ broke through. Not to judge one soul.
But to be a sign the ultimate sign. To be a sign of himself. A sign of his own
Even his closet followers could not believe he had risen until they saw him for
themselves. And Thomas wasnt with them. And when they told Thomas he said he couldnt
believe until he had seen Jesus for himself. Seeing is believing. When I was little I had
a friend at school who was from Missouri. And she told me that Missouri is the Show
me. State. Seeing is believing. The people in Missouri have nothing on the first
disciples. They were the Show me Christians. There are many people in the
world today who would be Christians, if we could just show them. Jesus did say, Blessed
are you who have not seen and yet believe. But we have to remember that the first
disciples did not believe until they had seen.
We cannot expect Christ to bodily show up these days. It would be helpful we
would have more church growth than we can handle! We simply cannot lock the doors and sit
and wait. It could happen. I believe in the resurrection, and that means that all things
are possible. But it makes a lot more sense for us to realize Christ is here. Right here
with us today. And He has called each one of us to proclaim him to the world and be a sign
of his presence to the world.
One of our members called me this week with an idea for ministry. It is probably not
the kind of ministry where we can march in singing, Jesus Christ is risen today.
Because it involves the state government, we need to support it a little differently. Our
theme song might be, Theyll know we are Christians by our love. This
ministry has to do with overcoming illiteracy in our elementary school in a way that is
real and palpable. In a way that will change lives. My friends, this kind of a ministry is
a sign of the resurrection. And it can resurrect lives. What I am saying is that we can
show people Christ is alive by choosing ourselves to be a sign of the resurrection. We do
not have to hit them over the heads with our prayer books or our Bibles. We do not have to
confront them or judge them. Jesus showed up to his own unbelievers and gave them peace.
We can show up also.
What does this have to do with Drew and youth ministry? We are asking Drew to be
involved in youth ministry in a new way. We are asking him to be out in the community as
much as possible, getting to know the teenagers of West Hawaii getting to know
their dreams and hopes and fears. Understanding their pain. Being present for them in a
very real way. This means the youth that attend St. James, of course. But it also
means the youth that have never walked in our doors. And he doesnt have to hit them
over the head. Just be a sign to them of the resurrection. He can leave it to Christ to
break through the locked doors. Amen.