Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Creative God

Second Sunday of Easter
Sunday, March 30, 2008
John 20:19-31

If you’re like me you marvel at people who are creative. They’re able to produce art while I can’t even make stick figures look good. They can envision a building that is sleek looking and also practical. They can put characters together and dialogue and a good story line putting it all together in a novel.

There is no one more creative than God. He creates things out of nothing. And then with the things He has created He makes things. In today’s Gospel reading we see the creative God at work. Maybe we should start seeing God that way. Do we marvel at God’s work the way we do art? The creating God is the creative God.

On the first day of the history of the universe there was nothing. But God created. Out of nothing He made something. Through the next six days He created the universe. On the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the grave, there was something. It was a door. God didn’t create anything on that day, but He sure was creative. The door at this particular moment was used to keep the people inside safe and keep the people they were afraid of outside. But the creating God who is creative ignored the door. The God who created something out of nothing now appeared before the disciples in their bunker as if there was no door at all.

The God who created life at the dawn of history was the God who showed what life was all about when He brought to death the grave early on Easter Sunday morning. The creating God who is the creative God doesn’t worry about things like tombs and doors. He created all those things and creatively works as He pleases with them.

At the beginning of the world God’s creative power was manifested by speaking. He spoke into existence the things that were not. “Let there be light,” and there was light. Holed up in their bunker, their Savior dead, the disciples were anything but at peace. But their dead Savior now appears and speaks once again. Speaking into existence what only He can create: peace. “Peace be with you,” He says to them. And He’s not just greeting them. He is imparting peace to them. He is speaking peace into existence in them. They now have peace because He has just creatively brought it about in them.

This God is so creative that in bringing about the things that are unseen to existence, giving us his unseen blessings, that He does it in ways that our senses can absorb. He is spiritual, He gives us spiritual blessings, but He does it through physical means. He spoke. He showed them His hands and His side. He used the things of this world that He created to bring about His creative work.

He who was dead is now alive. The one who suffered on the cross is now standing before them. He who is one with the Father is the incarnate, flesh and blood Son of God who grants life because He Himself is living. Because He Himself is no longer bound by the grave. Because He is not trapped by the created things of this world.

I love the disciples’ reaction: “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” We’re physical beings. We live in the world. We’re bound by the created things of this world. We have emotions. Spontaneous reactions tell a lot about us. Jesus, the eternal God, the spiritual Creator of the universe came to them in flesh and blood, living after having been dead. They were glad! It was great to see Him!

Okay, so they hadn’t believed before. Now they did! They were seeing Him face to face. They were touching His hands and sides. The reality was that Jesus Christ who was dead was no longer dead.

But they need more spiritual blessings. We can never have enough. Jesus says again, “Peace be with you.” He speaks into existence this gift He’s giving them so that He may bring about in them another thing He creates. The creative God creates in them apostles. Ones who are sent. Jesus Himself had been sent: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.”

Think about it. Who were these guys? Well, they were people a lot like you and me. They were ordinary people who had been called by Jesus to an extraordinary calling. And when things became grim they got scared. They were holed up in a room. How long would they stay there? What would they do? Where would they go? They weren’t good for much as far as what Jesus had called them to was concerned. He had told them He would die and rise, but they didn’t believe that anymore than they would have believed Caesar bowing down before them.

So the creative God created something. He created apostles from these very men. He called them to a new life, one in which they would be sent out even as He had been sent. And in this creating and creative act we see something remarkable. Not just the fact that God is able to create something out of nothing. Not just that God is able to take what is and make it into something wonderful. But that our Creating, Creative, and Almighty God is humble. He creates the world in majesty and then uses the ordinary things of that creation to bring about His blessings of salvation, such as a wooden manger in a stable. Such as a cross used to execute criminals. Such as a few men who were cowering in fear and unbelief. Such as simple water that was applied to you when you were Baptized. Such as the ordinary bread and wine on this altar that you will eat and drink.

And it is because of this that we should not be so quick to see the speck in Thomas’ eye when there is a log in our own. I know, he’s Doubting Thomas. He didn’t believe unless he saw. But are we so different? The other disciples weren’t. Is your faith so strong that you do not think of revenge when someone harms you but rather pray for them? Do you see Christ in your neighbor that gets on your nerves, or do you succumb to your aggravation and hope you can avoid him? Do you pray that God’s will be done even if that means your illness gets worse rather than better?

Thomas wasn’t the only one who had to see and believe. The other disciples did, too. So do we. And Jesus’ response is the same as it was to Thomas: “Peace be with you.” He speaks His peace to us in the Absolution. He speaks into existence the reconciliation we now have with our Heavenly Father. As Jesus 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,” so He says to us in His Holy Supper, “Take and eat, and take and drink. Feel and see this bread and wine and believe that in and with it is My very Body and Blood.”

Thomas’ answer was, “My Lord and my God!” The creating God created faith in him. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” His promise to the apostles is that He would send them out even as He had been sent by His Heavenly Father. His promise to you and me is that we are blessed, even as we have believed but have not seen Him. We have not seen Him, but we have been Baptized. We have not touched Him, but we have partaken of His Body and Blood.

And on the Last Day we will stand before Him in glory, face to face, and say with eternal joy “My Lord and my God!” Amen.


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