Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  

“Resurrection: A myth or a reality”

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 21 April 2013 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 23; Acts 9:3643 and John 10:2230.

Opening prayer:
God of resurrection, may your Word inspire us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, lead us God to experience life transformation. Amen.

The biblical story about a dead person raised from death is familiar to us. The most obvious and close to us is Jesus’ resurrection. This is the reason we celebrate in Easter. Lazarus, the man Jesus loved was raised a few days after his death. The power of resurrection in God and in Jesus who is the Son of God, is well known.

Today, we heard another story about another person raising a dead person to life. This time, the person who has this power is Peter.

Peter, Jesus’ disciple who was called to tender his sheep had done a miracle in Joppa, a woman called Tabitha in Jewish, Dorcas in Greek was raised from the dead.

Tabitha, or Dorcas, both in Hebrew and Greek means an animal like a small deer.

Dorcas was a woman with good reputation and good deeds. People in the community respected her and mourned her death.

The first insight I would like to share about this story is where did the miracle take place?
The 'upper room' has special significance in the Christian story. An upper room was the scene of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, and it is mentioned twice in this story about Dorcas in Joppa.
Upper Room is a space that is removed from the noise and busyness of the ground-floor courtyard and public rooms. An Upper Room is a relatively quiet place where contact with God might take place.
We need to prepare a quiet space physically and mentally if we want to meet with God and do something important.
While the Upper Room sounds like a special place, it is an ordinary place in a house. Nothing special. The Upper Room is a special place only if God is dwelling in there. The Upper Room could be regarded as a place where people meet with God direct. The upper room is a place where God’s people gather in the name of God and to do good work. From this point of view, we may then realize miracles may happen anywhere. It may happen at home, at school, at the office, on the street, when people are praying and serving for God wholeheartedly.
The second insight I want to share about this story of raising the dead to life is
In the ancient Middle East, people had a special way of mourning. They showed their grief by wailing, crying, and tearing the upper part of their woven garment. The more noise, the more the dead person was loved. With this understanding of the Jewish ritual of mourning a dead person, you can imagine the environment where Peter was in, it would be very noisy. He may not be able to focus himself with all this noise.
When we are doing something important, we need to have a quiet place that enable us to focus our heart and mind in God. If we are disturbed by the noise of other people, we better leave ourselves alone and not to allow anything or anyone to side track our attention. Sometimes in our life we allow different things to side track us. We may then not be able to focus on our goal that we need and want to achieve. Peter’s request for all people to stay outside so that he may focus his entire mind on God, has reminded us to do the same in our life.

The third insight that I want share is
In our world today, if someone has done a miracle as such – raising the dead, that person would be very famous and he/she may even be regarded as God, with super power.

Truly, Peter was given power to do the miracle. However, the power given to him was not for his personal fame and interest. The power of restoring life was not for raising his status. More importantly, it was to bring glory to God and for the sake of the community.
As said in the scripture: this became known throughout Joppa, many believed in the Lord. Dorcas’s story happened in the Roman World when Christianity was growing at full speed.

The purpose of miracles is to witness God’s power.
Now I would like to move on to the Gospel reading taken from John 10:2230 that we heard this morning.

From the gospel, we are told Jesus was not welcome by the Jews. Although he had done many miracles by healing the sick and raising the dead that manifested the power of God, the Jews did not believe in him. They even wanted to kill him.

While we find it fascinating to have such a high power to raise the dead to life, the person who has this power may not be welcome.

Peter, the Apostle who was given a mission to build the church was put to death because of his faith in Christ.

Like Jesus, his disciples may be rejected when they are doing good work for God. Sometime we may risk our lives like Jesus who has antagonized the Jews who eventually wanted to stone him. But don’t give up and never be afraid for Jesus Christ will protect us. Jesus is the shepherd of his sheep.
Jesus said, “I know my sheep who listen to my voice”. He will give eternal life to his sheep who will never perish. Jesus will protect his sheep and never let anyone to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Psalm 23, another reading taken from the Old Testament today: the Lord is my shepherd is very comforting and encouraging. In the midst of life crisis, God never leave his sheep, his people, his children alone. God will protect them and be with them.
Therefore let us affirm in our lives, God is our Shepherd and God’s faithfulness will never fail us.

From a human point of view, it is hard to image how can a dead person be resurrected to life? It is against nature. It is impossible. In many circumstances in our daily life, we think many things are impossible. How can a person suffers from cancer be happy and hopeful? How can the horrible bombing in the Boston Marathon bring peace to the people affected? How can the dock workers’ fight for their labor rights against the strong and powerful tycoon be a success? How can the hatred between enemies be transformed to forgiving love? How can a broken relationship between a mother and her daughter be restored? How can the mourning mother whose son committed suicide has joy? These are all missions impossible!
The message for Peter’s supernatural power to restore Dorcas’s life inspires us to think out of the box. Peter, Jesus’ disciple was an ordinary person and he had even run away when Jesus was in great trouble. But Jesus still called him and gave him great power to do great things. When Peter was ready to take up the calling and mission from Jesus, he fulfilled God’s plan and did great things to glorify God. Although he had encountered trials and threats of death, he was protected as Jesus Christ was his great shepherd.
Sister and brothers, do you believe that this power of resurrection has been given to us today as well?
Do you believe that you can make great difference to other people’s live?
How far do we focus our heart and mind in God always, like Peter?
How far do we stay close to God and work together with a community of faith in the upper room where God is always there to give us peace and affirm our calling?
How far do we entrust in God’s protection as He is our Shepherd we shall not want. As God’s people we are never alone and hurt.
Resurrection: a myth or a reality? If we take resurrection an impossible miracle or a mission, it is a mission impossible. But in God, mission impossible is possible. Amen!

Closing prayer:
God of life, you are source of love and joy. Thank you for the new life and the new hope you give to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus has given the resurrection power to his disciples who follow his footstep with faith and commitment. Lead and bless us God to keep our spiritual journey with you. Strengthen our heart and our faith to remember that you are our shepherd. Empower us to live a life with hope and courage, engage in your mission that will bring new life and new possibilities.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our redeemer and liberator. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, April 21, 2013


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