First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at  . 

First thoughts for Sunday April 19 Easter 3

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Saturday, April 18, 2015
Hi everyone,

Here are some first thoughts on the readings for Sunday.

Acts 3:12- 19, Psalm 4, 1 John 3:1 -7, Luke 24 : 36b - 48

Thanks to Feasting on the Word Year B Vol. 2 pgs 406- 429

The very first thought I had when I heard the reading from Acts today at Morning prayer, was of our Holy Week play. In particular I thought  of Ben Cowan who played the role of Barabbas. This is because the Acts reading is a recording of a sermon Peter preached after he and John ,in Jesus'  name, healed a man at the Temple Gate in Jerusalem.  The sermon includes a rehearsal of the events of Good Friday and Easter including a reference to the fact that a murderer, Barabbas, was asked to be let go and Jesus took his place.

I was very proud of all of the actors in the play and grateful to them for all of their work and courage in performing. I think it was a community building ministry and I think it was a spiritual discipline for the actors as they considered the lines of their character. Certainly Ben had a challenging role being the person for whom Jesus died and he played the part well, a mixture of relief , gratitude and confusion. Of course in faith we believe we all are Barabbas and a sermon might explore this  theme.

I really liked the insights of the preacher Thomas Long on the Acts text.  Not surprisingly a preacher ( a very good preacher) Long sees that the healing by itself was mute, ambiguous , and misleading and it took a sermon from Peter to identify the true meaning of the healing. He identifies three areas that needed explanation. First they misunderstood the source of the healing. They thought it was from Peter and John and of course Peter sets them straight by saying God was and is the source of healing. Secondly, they were thinking as I think many of us do most of the time that brokenness is the rule and healing the exception so a huge crowd gathered. Peter in reply seems to be saying,
"No, in the Easter world brokenness is not the rule."

Thirdly , everyone thought that the healing only was to lead to astonishment but Peter says no. It should lead to repentance. I thought Long's observations would be worth exploring in a sermon. ( Feasting on the Word
Year B, Vol. 2 pgs 409-410)

When we turn to the Gospel reading , an encounter with the risen Lord, we see the importance of explanation of a sermon not unlike what we have in Acts. Jesus opened their minds to understand Scripture so that they could see that the Scriptures taught that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again.

When Jesus arrives in the room he offers the disciples peace. A good sermon could consider what this peace that Christ offered means. The world and I suspect many of our lives are in need of peace.  But peace is not what is immediately experienced. Understandably , the amazing encounter with the one who only days earlier was dead  filled them with fear. To help them Jesus invites them to look at him and to touch him and to eat with him. Jesus as the creed declares had resurrected from the dead, a bodily resurrection from the dead. He was not a ghost. I love the description of the disciples  " in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering" I suspect this description describes many of us who are filled with joy but still wondering.

Another important theme of the reading which we see in the Acts 1 John reading is the connection between our Lords death and resurrection and sin, forgiveness and repentance. And there is the important command from Jesus to be a witness to his resurrection.

It is hard to know how to be a witness in our culture and setting. To share the joy and hope that resides in us while being respectful and kind. To go back to the play , I think it was such a witness.

The opening line of the epistle reading is wonderful and could make for a joyous sermon, " see what love the Father has given us , that we should be called children of God and that is what we are." There is a hymn ( chorus) that goes. Behold what manner of love the father has given unto us , behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us. That we should be called the children of God, that we should be called the children of God" and then it just repeats itself. Not bad words to sing at all.

Any way some very quick thoughts on this Sunday's readings.

Looking forward to listening to them with you on Sunday.