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Share The Gift

John 20:19-31

The Rev. Jon Roberts

31 May

2009

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

A contemporary Eastern Orthodox icon of Pentecost, c. 2004 by Phiddipus. Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. An allegorical figure, called Kosmos, at bottom, symbolizes the world.

If one intends to spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, they need to be prepared for the unexpected. [1]

They don’t know who they might meet, so they had better go bearing at least the one, most all-important gift. Found somewhere between folklore and history, today, we meet a notorious individual. In Britain he was known for his valor, and his faithful subjects who he sent to the ends of the earth, searching for treasure, fair maidens and fame. As a champion of good and godly virtues, faith, hope and love, he proudly admitted all existed at a simple, round-table. Almost everyone has heard of the man known as Arthur. He was the one who designed this table, in-the-round, to prevent quarrels and give equal status to those who were sovereign. These so-called knights joined King Arthur, sitting around, making their plans on how to unite the country; a country that had been divided for so long.

“What gift”, they asked, “could we give to the people.” Legend has it, they met many times around this table, asking this question but there was one day in particular, that became their sacred annual meeting. Interesting enough, it happened to be on this very day; the day of Pentecost. On the fiftieth day after Easter, the King’s court considered this to be the one of highest degree, marking it as the birthday of the church. It was the day they reaffirmed the answer to their question, “What gift could we give to the people.” The answer was, “The Holy Spirit.” The day the Holy Spirit came, and appeared to the apostles like many tongues of fire, was the day in which the one, all-important gift was given. Filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking with the utterances given them, The Knights of the Round Table likened themselves to the holy apostles. It was the church, and the teachings of the apostles that they decided to take as a gift into every village.

The church would unite all, both God and Country. This was their strategy and unyielding commitment. In the name of God, they went to the Anglos, the Welch, and even those bothersome Saxons. They went to the ends of the earth. Their shields were adorned with the image of God in the form of the Lion. Colors of red and white made it leap forth. White symbolized the baptismal covenant. Red symbolized the Holy Spirit and the power over flesh and blood therein. After each of their quests, they discovered many challenges along the way. Part of the irony making the stories worthwhile, was when a knight forgot to follow the virtuous path, and misfortune fell upon them. At that moment, they stopped giving the gift. They forgot what made them sovereign in the first place. They lost their way.

It must have been like that for the Apostles.[2] How easy it was for them to lose their way. Not to see Jesus before them must have been alarming but it was the gift of the Holy Spirit, that filled them on Pentecost and set them ablaze. With boldness and conviction, the gift helped them to see through their weakness and their insecurities. They let go of doubt and fear. They peeled off their pride. All because of this one, all-important gift.

How easy it is for all of us, to lose our way in the ordinary, day to day mission of our life. As Christians, we tend to forget how prepared we really are. By giving one, all-important gift to those around us, we are able to go to the far reaches of the earth. Our mission may take us as far as the realm of King Arthur’s day, or it may be as far as the village mailbox. Whatever the destination, see each as an opportunity to meet someone unexpected and to share with them The gift; The all-important gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] John 20:19-31

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