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2 Easter - John 20:19-31

Today, the second Sunday of Easter, we get a second chance.

After learning a few things last week, we now have more pop up tents for less people and some technical adjustment for our second camera that the pastor will probably never fully


Thank God for Juan and Rob who do.

We have beautiful weather again, and the sun rose, giving everyone who wakes up today a second chance.

That's what the gospel is all about—the big message of the good news of Jesus and also today's little snippet of John.

The story is full of second chances, and not just for Thomas the Twin, presumably his parents' second chance.

On his first visit, Jesus speaks peace to his terrified disciples a second time.

Jesus then visits them the following week, speaking peace a third time, another second chance, as their fear is thawing, through doors that have progressed from locked to shut.

And he breathes on them.

This is not just a violation of covid protocols; this is a violation of the laws of nature.

He died, and now he's breathing life into others, including those who denied and abandoned him.

The Holy Spirit, the breath of God, is a second chance, from Christ's lungs to yours.

It is the power to forgive: it is the power to grant second chances.

It is nothing less than the power of new creation.

That's why John's timing is out of order.

Did you notice?

This story immediately follows Sunday morning in the garden with Mary Magdalene, but it begins when it was evening on the first day of the week ... which is Saturday night.

The Jewish day begins at sundown, which is etched in the chorus of the great creation song: and there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.

John isn't just reporting Jesus' movements; John is singing a new, new song to sing an old, old story that he has loved so long.

In this little locked room, God is remaking the world.

Creation is receiving a second chance.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The world, of course, crucified him.

Easter is Christmas given a second chance.

The risen Christ is creation's second chance.

And we, the church, are his second chance.

As the Father sent me, so I send you, he tells his disciples.

Now we are partners in God's second chance business.

I quote Robert Capon again, another second chance to absorb his words we cannot hear enough:

The church is not in the morals business.

The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered.

The history of the world's moral codes is a monument to the labors of many philosophers, and it is a monument of striking unity and beauty...

What the world cannot get right, however, is the forgiveness business—and that, of course, is the church's real job.

She is in the world to deal with the Sin that the world can't turn off or escape from.

She is not in the business of telling the world what's right and wrong so that it can do good and avoid evil.

She is in the business of offering, to a world that knows all about that tiresome subject, forgiveness for its chronic unwillingness to take its own advice.

But the minute she even hints that morals, and not forgiveness, is the name of her game, she

instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense.

Forgiveness is the jaw-dropping, sensibility-offending truth to which our hyper-woke world remains fast asleep.

The church is sent by God into a world that won't forgive anyone anything—no compromise is acceptable, no progress is pure enough, no mistake is forgotten, no goodness goes

uncriticized, no bruised feelings can be tolerated, no grace or compassion for offenders can be allowed on the crusade to political perfection.

The incessant, insatiable, unrelenting, unbending righteousness in our society is suffocating.

Jesus sends us with fresh air.

Breathe forgiveness, he commands us.

Lavish second chances on people who do not deserve them, which is everyone.

Tell and show the world that it is loved, not punished for being a train wreck but repeatedly rescued and restored with free, abundant, resilient second chances.

That's what church is all about, Charlie Brown.

So thank you, Shepherd of the Valley, for giving some of your clothes a second chance.

Yesterday we collected adult clothing to support the work of Hope of the Valley, local purveyor of second chances.

Hope of the Valley was the only shelter to return Gina's call. She was living in her car with her three daughters and a rare disease that stole her eyesight.

Her husband had cracked under the pressure and left the family.

Hope of the Valley gave Gina's family shelter, beds, food, childcare, a chance to rest and regroup ... "everything my daughters and I needed was provided," she says.

Gina also received eye surgery that was unsuccessful, until there was a second chance.

Now she can see again, and she has her own place with her kids ... and her husband.

She gave him a second chance too.

Hope of the Valley also helped Luis move from neglect, addiction and homelessness to the degree program in Addiction Studies at Pierce College, so that he can extend second chances to others as a drug and alcohol counselor.

The Davis family, who lost their home in a hurricane in Mississippi, are now back on their feet

here in California with Hope of the Valley's help.

Nick is now sober; Stephanie is now clean; both of them are breaking cycles of addiction and abuse from their parents because they were given the grace of a second chance.

Lutheran Social Services, Central Lutheran Church, and the Church of Hope in Canyon Country, whose pantries receive our collections of food, also have second chance stories to share.

And Christ has done many other signs in the lives of your neighbors which are not written in this sermon.

All of them are variations of the same story: When every door is closed, Christ shows up.

He opens his scarred hands to terrified eyes and says, Peace be with you.

Receive new life, and share it with others.

Every Sunday worship, every new day we receive, every gift we give, every face we see, every soul we encounter is a new Easter. Every breath we breathe is God giving us yet another second chance.

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