Have you all noticed a theme in the readings this Easter season? The lectionary is doing an excellent job of reminding us that Jesus’s mission was to blot out our sins. The challenge we received last week from Fr. Wilson, to live out this Easter season with great effort remembering the victory Jesus won for each of us, is being highlighted in the scripture we continue to read each Sunday. So, how can we demonstrate to the world that we are an Easter-loving group of people?

One of the things I love about modern times is the wide variety of fabulous shows we can consume right from our homes. If you told me growing up with a tube TV and five to six channels, that we would have the ability eventually to consume media, I would not have believed it. Access to all this media has even created a new term called “binge-watching” TV shows. Some of the most binge-worthy shows I am aware of are, Game of Thrones, The Boys, The Mandalorian, and of course Tiger King. The current cultural phenomenon of binging on shows has, as I have recently discovered, been baptized. I say this because there is a series that, while it aired its first season at the end of 2017, is picking up major steam. The series is called The Chosen. This series is the first-ever multi-season show about Jesus. It’s also free to watch and has been produced without the help of Hollywood or any of the big production companies. In fact, they wanted nothing to do with it, so it was crowd-funded.

I decided to give this show a try a few weeks ago. I asked Kate and the kids to sit down to watch a new show. I didn’t tell them it was about Jesus. When you live with a priest, everything is about Jesus, so some deception was necessary. We all watched the first episode and were instantly hooked. My kids almost every night now beg us to watch the next episode and are completely enraptured by the way this show depicts the life of Jesus and his disciples. Like all shows about real events, there is some artistic license taken. But being an expert on Jesus, I have found nothing in the artistic license in any way offensive. In fact, I think the artistic license they have taken enhances the truth revealed in the Gospel accounts. This show, in an incredible way, makes the Gospel accounts even more alive. And to show you what a sap I am, I will freely admit that I have not made it through one episode without crying. It has gotten to the point that Michael is checking my eyes as he watches the show to see when it will happen.

In our Gospel lesson today, we see a post-resurrection theme. Jesus, before His ascension, opens the minds of people to understand the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit continues this mission from Pentecost on. This phrase means that through the lens of the resurrected Jesus, we can look back on all the familiar stores and prophecies in the Old Testament, and in the teachings of Jesus before the crucifixion, and see them in a new light and understand them more completely. Jesus has accomplished God’s plan for the salvation of the world, and now with that understanding, we are to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to the whole world. We are to be people who live out the Easter message in our lives, to bring as many people as we can to a new life in Christ. To help as many people as we can to receive forgiveness.

At the beginning of this year, our rector said he would like, in the next two years, for us to have fifty home groups meeting through Redeemer. Well, I’ve just introduced you all to the curriculum; now it is your job to live out the Easter challenge. To begin small at-home groups, using The Chosen series, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us all understand the scripture. To live into the mission of the church to preach the forgiveness of sins to all nations.

One of the great gifts The Chosen has given to me is to see a depiction of Jesus healing people with realistic special effects. In seeing these depictions of miraculous healings, and the miracles of abundance like turning water into wine, I have a better understanding of Jesus’s miracles. I cannot believe that it took me this long to realize this. When I watched a depiction of Jesus healing a leper on my TV, and I saw the disciples’ fear as the leper approached, then I watched Jesus touch him. Because of the quality of special effects, I saw his wounds heal in a way I previously could not imagine. I realized something; Jesus’s miracles of healing, while incredible in and of themselves, are also a tangible way to understand the spiritual healing we receive when our sins are forgiven. To see that depicted so well is life-changing. Seeing the amount of water turned to wine and experiencing the wedding party gave me a new understanding of Jesus’s miracles of abundance. These miracles are a demonstrable way to understand the abundant grace, the amazingly abundant grace we encounter whenever we meet Jesus. The abundant grace that is the incarnation. The abundant grace we receive in Baptism and the Holy Eucharist every time we receive the body and blood of Our Lord.

We are Easter people. We are alive in Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit; let’s continue to be a church on fire for Our Lord. Continue to be a church that proclaims the truth that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. With that in mind, let’s all rejoice that our sins are forgiven and do all we can to spread the news Redeemer is a hospital for sinners, and we have plenty of room for more patients. Alleluia Christ is Risen!

Sermon preached by the Rev. Christian M. Wood

Church of the Redeemer

Sarasota Florida

3rd Sunday of Easter

18 April 2021