The Wounded God. Our Lord? Our God?

Sermon for Easter 2

1 John 1

Acts 4

John 20:19-end

The Wounded God

Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 

Audio of sermon as delivered

So I am sure that people really want to know how my guitar lessons are going . . . As always there is a special FB page for folk who are doing the course and people are putting up their photos of their fabulous guitars, and videos of their amazing playing . . . There’s a video of someone a little better than me, which has no likes. . .

I look at it and think . . . I can never be like that . . . Fail!

I wonder what we make of the story of the disciples – have you ever heard folk say ‘The disciples failed’. When Jesus needed them, they fled . . . they are doubting, they make rash promises which they can’t keep . . .

I wonder, as we hear this familiar story of Jesus’ appearing to his disciples, if we are reading it through that lens? If the truth is perhaps so life altering that we can’t hear it?

I mean, Have you ever been let down by someone? What was your emotional response? Love?? Or anger perhaps?

When you encountered the person . . . did you put them right?

Or perhaps you are one of those ever so rare people who is aware of having let someone down . . . What would your response be? Shame perhaps – almost certainly. Perhaps you wouldn’t want to meet the person you had let down. A resolve to pull your socks up and try and live up to their standards for you . . . Like God, no?

After all – we come to church and sit here and ‘call to mind our sins’ . . . make a list of how we have failed . . . perhaps we make a resolution ‘to do better’, to try and live up to God’s standards, and because we are, in the same way we expect others to live up to ours . . .

Back in 1985 a huge concert was held at Wembley Stadium – Live Aid. I wonder how many folk here watched some of it? It was to raise awareness and money to ‘feed the world’ as our TV screens were full of images of starvation in Ethiopia . . . In terms of star names, everyone was there including Queen . . . With Freddie Mercury strutting his stuff . . . ‘We are the champions of the world . . . No time for losers, for we are the champions . . .’ I wasn’t the only one who noticed a more than jarring note . . . no time for losers played out in front of images of starvation . . .

The world has no time for losers . . . it is its motto. Idols of perfection surround us and dominate us from birth . . . and our failure . . . ‘Could do better . . .’ So we need ‘people we can look up to leading us in the church . . . despite the FACT that we have to look down to see Jesus . . . washing our feet’

Images of perfection . . . Letting people down . . . but according to that story, this story of Jesus makes no sense . . .

The disciples are hidden for fear of  . . . the Judeans . . . not Jesus.

Because in the eyes of the world – Jesus, like his disciples, is a loser . . . The World has no time for losers, like the disciples, like Jesus . . .

Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 

He showed them his hands and side . . .  Jesus identifies with failures . . . They are so happy to see him . . .  that seems to be all that concerns him . . . Peter, get over yourself, I know you failed, but I’m not interested in that . . . ‘do you love me?’

Jesus shares his life with them, he identifies with them.  

Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

So the early church – life shared – instead of images of perfection which separate us one from another so we can only stand at a distance and admire, a community of those who have failed according to the world’s story . . .

And then Thomas . . . again we have a problem. If we read this through the lens of ‘the demanding God who calls us to live up to his standards’, we do not see Jesus . . . who loves and forgives and washes feet . . .

Someone wrote of Thomas – ‘John obviously has it in from Thomas – painting him as ‘the doubter’’ but to write that assumes the world’s standards . . . that being a failure by the world’s standards is a failure in the light of the gospel also . . .

Note Thomas’ response – ‘My Lord, My God . . .’ You are the wounded God . . . in the eyes of the world you are the failure God . . . You are the God with whom I can identify . . . you are the God who will not hold my failure over my head – you are the God who Loves me unconditionally . . .

If we take the Incarnation at all seriously we need to See the wounded God in the Wounded Jesus . . . his bodily imperfection. Jesus does not stand in front of them with his wounds healed – They are open – and so Thomas believes in truth – identifying himself with the God who is not ‘impossibly perfect’ . . .

From the wounds flow life – blood and water –  the source of the eucharist is the wounded one – the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world – in other word’s God always was like this . . . pouring his life out through his wounds, by which we are healed . . .

You see, Jesus shares life in weakness . . . we are terrified of weakness – we are ashamed of our weakness in a world which demands strength, and success which has no time for human failure, for losers . . . which endlessly condemns and judges . . .

Why does Jesus call these disciples? Is he on some massive ego trip and doesn’t want to be outshone? If he wanted to set up a church in the image of the world, surely he would have selected people who were humanly speaking very gifted . . . or does he want to set up a church which is like Him? Like God? All too human

It is in weakness we are saved – at the end of ourselves . . . Years ago I had a  major breakdown. I had been driven by images of perfection, of trying to please God, of working harder and harder and I blew up . . . Coming out of that was a revelation . . . all the old ladies of the parish gathered round – ‘oh it’s so terrible, those nerves . . .’ So many of them had been through that. Suffered from nervous exhaustion . . . all of a sudden there was connection we hadn’t had before in weakness – the Vicar was human

Playing the guitar, I watch videos of people who play so well. I can admire, but I cannot relate to them . . . recently someone posted a video which was much more like my clumsy attempts . . . a bond was formed . . .

A community of drug addicts is the closest I’ve ever gotten to see the Kingdom – like in Acts. No one counted anything as their own . . . a community of the wounded, surrounding the wounded Jesus, who points us to the Wounded God . . .

I wonder . . . how many of us live under these idols of the God for whom ‘we can never be good enough’, who are worn out as we drive ourselves without love or mercy? And how well do we as a church manifest the wounded God, the real God shown perfectly in Jesus – put your hands in my side . . . I am broken . . . recognise yourself in me.

My Lord, and My God

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