2nd Sunday of Easter

April 30, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 133
Reading 3: 
Acts 4:32-35 or 1 John 1:1-2:2
Reading 4: 
John 20:19-31
By G. Nelson Stringer

All four of this Sunday’s readings deal with the importance of relationships. Acts speaks of how the "company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common."(4:32).

Psalm 133 says, "Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!"

In 1 John 1:3 we read, "that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ." Verses 6&7 say, "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..."

In the Gospel reading the disciples are gathered together with Jesus in their midst. Your sermon can develop this rich relationship theme which is so central to process theology.

The relationships vary. The scriptures often speak of the relationship of the shared experience of belief referred to as "fellowship." In the time of the Psalmist it would have meant the shared experience of being in the community of the people of the Covenant. In the time of the disciples the relationships would have been in the context of the shared experience of their relationship to Christ.

Process theology is thoroughly relational. God shares fully in the experience of everyone. Relatedness is of primary importance between all creatures and all creatures and God.

Dr. Tari Lennon puts it this way: " From Jesus' point of view, to know God was to be in relationship with one another and the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and the children on our knee and the old people in their beds, and the stranger, and the sojourners, and the foreigner, and the flood, and the fire, and the hope, and the fear, and the quarks of yesterday, and the black holes of tomorrow."

"To consent to relationship as Jesus understood relationships is to come to know that in God everything is used, nothing is wasted, and that the point of our being here and our relationships is to transform and be transformed -- to allow this experience to rearrange what we thought we knew and to allow us to be different from our perceptions of you. " (click here to go to the full text of Dr. Lennon’s essay on relationships).

Dr. John Cobb quotes Paul: " He says of human beings that we are members one of another and jointly members of the body of Christ. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. The Holy Spirit is also found within. Process thought interprets this to mean that we participate in constituting the very being of one another and that the divine reality participates in constituting our being as we participate in constituting the divine reality. We are quite literally in God, and God is quite literally in us." (Click here for more on Dr. Cobb’s views on God’s relationship with us). Dr. Cobb speaks of humans’ relationships to other creatures in his essay on bio-diversity, click here.

Another possibility for sermon development would be to focus on John 20:24-29 dealing with Thomas using Dr. Cobb’s book "Doubting Thomas- Christology in story form." Discussion questions in the back of the book could be interwoven with some of the dialogue from selected passages.

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