Jeff Cook: Was Jesus or Adam a Zombie?

From the Jesus Creed blog. Happy All Hallows Eve!

Was Jesus a Zombie? by Jeff Cook (info at bottom).

He came back to life after his death. He is chasing all human beings everywhere. Once he gets hold of people, his blood changes them and they in turn seek to change others.

Could it be more clear? Jesus was a Zombie.

I just started watching “The Walking Dead”. The directors routinely show the transformation of a corpse into one rising up, walking among the living, at one point calling such a resurgence: “the resurrection event.”

There are interesting parallels here worth exploring with Jesus—and some healthy distinctions to be made.

First, we should remind ourselves what resurrection is.

An excellent reminder for Christians on this Halloween. Read it all.

Mark Galli: What Jesus Might Say About Sandy

From Christianity Today online. Mr. Galli chimes in on some of the recent pronouncements of judgment that some Christian ministers are proclaiming in the wake of hurricane Sandy. See what you think.

 As usual, great weather events bring out the Christian crazies, like those proclaiming that Hurricane Sandy is God’s judgment (“God sent the whirlwind. Thank God for righteous judgment,” said one) against (pick one) homosexuals, pornography, materialism, secularism, Darwinism, and so on and so forth. But I’m not linking to these statements because, well, you’ve got better things to do with your time than read sub-Christian, one might even say nonchristian, theology.

Read it all.

Fox News: Hurricane Sandy’s Expected to Bring Life Threatening Storm Surge

From Fox News. Very scary stuff. Pray for the folks involved and the land.

The Eastern Seaboard braced Monday for the full impact of Hurricane Sandy as it barreled toward shore packing 85-mph winds and an 11-foot storm surge that forecasters called “life-threatening.”

The 900-mile wide storm’s front edge sent tide-enhanced surges over boardwalks from Delaware to New York a full 12 hours before Sandy’s eye was to make landfall. Widespread evacuations along the coast were ordered, mass transit was shut down in major metropolitan areas and some 60 million people live in the path of the mega-storm and many likely face power outages in the coming hours and days.

Read it all.


John Ortberg: Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed the World

From the Huffington Post. See what you think.

Both President Obama and Governor Romney have had to repeatedly address their views about an itinerant rabbi who lived 2000 years ago.

But why does anyone care?

Yale historian Jeroslav Pelikan wrote, “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for almost 20 centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”

It turns out that the life of Jesus is a comet with an exceedingly long tale. Here are some shards of his impact that most often surprise people:


In the ancient world children were routinely left to die of exposure — particularly if they were the wrong gender (you can guess which was the wrong one); they were often sold into slavery. Jesus’ treatment of and teachings about children led to the forbidding of such practices, as well as orphanages and godparents. A Norwegian scholar named Bakke wrote a study of this impact, simply titled: When Children Became People: the Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity.


Love of learning led to monasteries, which became the cradle of academic guilds. Universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard all began as Jesus-inspired efforts to love God with all ones’ mind. The first legislation to publicly fund education in the colonies was called The Old Deluder Satan Act, under the notion that God does not want any child ignorant. The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite; the notion that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.


Jesus had a universal concern for those who suffered that transcended the rules of the ancient world. His compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals. The Council of Nyssa decreed that wherever a cathedral existed, there must be a hospice, a place of caring for the sick and poor. That’s why even today, hospitals have names like “Good Samaritan,” “Good Shepherd,” or “Saint Anthony.” They were the world’s first voluntary, charitable institutions.


The ancient world honored many virtues like courage and wisdom, but not humility. People were generally divided into first class and coach. “Rank must be preserved,” said Cicero; each of the original 99 percent was a personis mediocribus. Plutarch wrote a self-help book that might crack best-seller lists in our day: How to Praise Yourself Inoffensively.

Jesus’ life as a foot-washing servant would eventually lead to the adoption of humility as a widely admired virtue. Historian John Dickson writes, “it is unlikely that any of us would aspire to this virtue were it not for the historical impact of his crucifixion…Our culture remains cruciform long after it stopped being Christian.”


In the ancient world, virtue meant rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. Conan the Barbarian was actually paraphrasing Ghengis Khan in his famous answer to the question “what is best in life?” — To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.

An alternative idea came from Galilee: what is best in life is to love your enemies, and see them reconciled to you. Hannah Arendt, the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton, claimed, “the discoverer of the role of forgiveness in the realm of human affairs was Jesus of Nazareth.” This may be debatable, but he certainly gave the idea unique publicity.

Humanitarian Reform:

Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves–up to a third of ancient populations–might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them. One ancient text instructed bishops to not interrupt worship to greet a wealthy attender, but to sit on the floor to welcome the poor. The apostle Paul said: “Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.

Perhaps as remarkable as anything else is Jesus’ ability to withstand the failings of his followers, who from the beginning probably got in his way at least as much as they helped. The number of groups claiming to be ‘for’ Jesus are inexhaustible; to name a few: Jews for Jesus, Muslims for Jesus, Ex-Masons for Jesus, Road Riders for Jesus, Cowboys for Jesus, even Atheists for Jesus.

The one predictable element of this fall’s U.S. presidential campaign is that it will be called “the most important election of our time.” As the last one was called, and the next one will be.

Meanwhile, the unpredictable influence of an unelected carpenter continues to endure and spread across the world.

Dr. John R.W. Scott on the God of the Cross

Speaking of Job from yesterday, Dr. Stott chimes in.

There are limits to the sphere in which the finite mind of man can work. Men may indeed investigate the nature of disease, its causes, incidence, symptoms and cure, but no laboratory will ever witness the discovery of its meaning or its purpose. I would even believe that one of the reasons why God has not revealed this mystery is to keep us proud mortals humble. Our broad horizons are so narrow to God. Our vast knowledge is so small to him. Our great brain is so limited is his sight. He says to us as he said to Job: ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Have you entered the storehouses of the snow? Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, Here we are?’ (Jb. 38:4, 22, 31, 35). The only right attitude towards suffering is worship, or humble self-surrender. This is not a grovelling humiliation but a sober humility. This is not to commit intellectual and moral suicide; this is to acknowledge the limits of our finite minds. This is in a word to let God be God and to be content ourselves to remain mere men. This is reasonable too when we have had a revelation of God like Job’s. ‘But’, says a critic, ‘we have not’. Wait a  moment! We have, you know. We have had a better and a fuller one. We are much more favoured than Job. He only knew the God of nature; we know the God of grace. He only knew the God of the earth and the sky and the sea; we know the God of Jesus Christ. He only knew the God of the crocodile; we know the God of the cross. If it was right and reasonable for Job to worship, it is much more reasonable for us. We have seen the cross. Heaven is neither silent nor sullen. Heaven has been opened, and Christ has descended, and God has revealed himself in the Christ of the cross. The cross is the pledge of God’s love.

C.S. Lewis on the Efficacy of Prayer

Yesterday I preached on the necessary ingredients for intercessory prayer and discipleship. Today I ran across this piece from Lewis on the efficacy (the ability to produce the desired results) of prayer and think it serves as a wonderful follow-up to that sermon.  See what you think.

Some years ago I got up one morning intending to have my hair cut in preparation for a visit to London, and the first letter I opened made it clear I need not go to London. So I decided to put the haircut off too. But then there began the most unaccountable little nagging in my mind, almost like a voice saying, “Get it cut all the same. Go and get it cut.” In the end I could stand it no longer. I went.

Now my barber at that time was a fellow Christian and a man of many troubles whom my brother and I had sometimes been able to help. The moment I opened his shop door he said, “Oh, I was praying you might come today.” And, in fact, if I had come a day or so later, I should have been of no use to him. It awed me; it awes me still. But, of course, one cannot rigorously prove a causal connection between the barber’s prayers and my visit. It might be telepathy. It might be accident.

I have stood by the bedside of a woman whose thighbone was eaten through with cancer and who had thriving colonies of the disease in many other bones as well. It took three people to move her in bed. The doctors predicted a few months of life; the nurses (who often know better), a few weeks. A good man laid his hands on her and prayed. A year later the patient was walking (uphill, too, through rough woodland) and the man who took the last X-ray photos was saying, “These bones are as solid as rock. It’s miraculous.” But once again there is no rigorous proof. Medicine, as all true doctors admit, is not an exact science. We need not invoke the supernatural to explain the falsification of its prophecies. You need not, unless you choose, believe in a causal connection between the prayers and the recovery.

The question then arises, “What sort of evidence would prove the efficacy of prayer?” The thing we pray for may happen, but how can you ever know it was not going to happen anyway? Even if the thing were indisputably miraculous, it would not follow that the miracle had occurred because of yqur prayers. The answer surely is that a compulsive empirical proof such as we have in the sciences can never be attained.

Some things are proved by the unbroken uniformity of our experiences. The law of gravitation is established by the fact that, in our experience, all bodies without exception obey it. Now even if all the things that people prayed for happened, which they do not, this would not prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer. For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted.

The World’s Last Night

Sharon L. Lewis: The Yes and No of Healing

From Christianity Today online. A thoughtful and reflective article on the dynamics of healing. Check it out and see what you think.

Marva Dawn, in her book Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacle of God, reflects on this passage, and suggests an alternate translation for Paul’s statement “for my power is made perfect [Greek teleo] in weakness.” She notes that in nearly every other instance in the New Testament, the verb teleo is translated with some form of the English “to finish.” So she translates this phrase with God saying to Paul, “for [your] power is brought to its end in weakness.” Paul was healed in one significant sense. The healing was not that of an emotional or physical ailment, but through his emotional or physical ailment, God put an end to Paul’s power. As Dawn points out at length in her book, our power—our sense of self-sufficiency—must be relinquished if we are to enjoy God “tabernacling” with us, God’s presence within us.

Specifically this means that what we do and what we suffer does not define us at the deepest level. We are not defined by our infirmities or the fact that we may have been healed from one or more of them. We are fundamentally defined by the flame of God’s presence within, which gives us a new identity that burns in us inextinguishably. Our bodies and souls are the temples of the Lord, and as Volf succinctly says, “Though … our bodies and souls may become ravaged, yet we continue to be God’s temple—at times a temple in ruins, but sacred space nonetheless.”

This is the great Yes that can never ultimately be drowned out by the No of our sin and infirmities. In fact, the No of our infirmities enables us to live into this Yes, and they become a witness of the finished Yes of Christ on the cross and in our lives. Power/self-sufficiency is indeed put to an end in weakness and death.

Read it all.

The Necessary Ingredients for Intercessions (and Discipleship Too)

Sermon delivered on Sunday, Trinity last, October 28, 2012, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH.

Lectionary texts: Job 42.1-17; Psalm 34.1-8, 19-22; Hebrews 7.23-28; Mark 10.46-52.

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

We can all relate to the psalmist in today’s lesson because we all know what it’s like to be in situations that make us afraid. We all have the desire to be rescued from evil and injustice of all kinds, and like the psalmist we often cry out to God for relief. Since intercessory prayer is an integral part of each of our lessons this morning, and since as Christians we regularly engage in the discipline of praying for others and ourselves, I want us to look briefly at what our lessons have to say about intercessory prayer and the necessary ingredients for us to be mindful of as we pray. This, of course, does not imply that there is a magic formula to praying so that we make God beholden to us and our requests. Rather, as we shall see, the same ingredients that are necessary when praying for others and ourselves are necessary for us if we are serious about being a disciple of Jesus and want to take our relationship with him seriously.

In this morning’s OT lesson, we see the conclusion of Job’s unhappy nightmare. You recall that in the first two chapters, God allows Satan to test Job’s righteousness by taking away those people and things that are most precious to Job. Satan’s original challenge was that Job was only righteous because of what God had generously given him, and so God allowed Satan to bring evil on Job, but only within certain limits. Job wasn’t let in on this joke and so he thought that God had turned against him and Job challenged God on this. This, of course, flew in the face of traditional Jewish wisdom regarding why bad things happen to people. Conventional wisdom argued that God brought evil on unrighteous people to punish them. But here we have Job protesting against that notion and claiming he is a righteous man who doesn’t understand why God is punishing him. To make matters worse, Job’s so-called “comforters” have been bombarding him with accusations of unspecified unrighteousness and they have urged Job to repent so that God will relent in punishing him. But Job steadfastly maintains his innocence and demands a hearing before God. And as we saw last week, Job finally got his wish, only to have God take him to task over his presumption that he could argue before God as God’s equal. Now in today’s lesson, Job realizes the folly of his presumption. He acknowledges that God is right and repents. Job acknowledges that he has spoken of things he did not understand or have the ability to know. And then the most curious thing happens. God does not say he forgives Job, but rather tells Job’s “comforters” that they have made him mad because Job has spoken the truth about God but they have not, and it is they who need to repent! What’s going on here?

First, the book of Job reminds us what we all know about life. Things can get very messy and confusing for us so that we draw the wrong conclusions about what God is doing (or not doing) about the problem of evil in his world and our lives. Because they had relied on conventional Jewish wisdom about sin and punishment, Job’s “comforters” had gotten it wrong about how God works, at least with Job, and their own sanctimonious behavior had only served to increase Job’s misery. But through it all, Job maintained his innocence and did not presume to ascribe motive as to why God appeared to be punishing him (remember it was Satan that caused the evil to beset Job, not God). Job’s prayer was simply to have a hearing before God, rather than try to explain how and why God works the way God does. There is great humility in this and we can see further Job’s humility in his acknowledgement that he is not God’s equal and was therefore presumptuous to believe that he could argue his case as such. It is important for us to note that in repenting, Job did not repent of or admit to wrongdoing. The Hebrew text for this sentence is ambiguous and can be rendered in several different ways. But the gist of it is that in repenting, Job acknowledged that he is not God’s equal, that he is only a mortal who would eventually return to dust. Job was effectively telling God that he was content not to be let in on the joke about why God allows evil to operate in his world in the manner it does.

Second, and related to the first point, we notice from God’s interaction with Job and his “comforters” that it is quite all right to complain to God in prayer about the evil we see in our lives and world. Notice that God did not condemn Job for doing so. Instead, God tells Eliphaz that Job had spoken the truth about God. This, combined with the implied notion that Job had persevered in prayer, reminds us that sometimes all we can do is persevere in our prayers as we cry out to God about the evil in our lives. Notice carefully that God never did answer Job’s “why” questions about the evil that had befallen him. But neither did God condemn Job for complaining about his suffering and situation. Neither should we be afraid to take our complaints to God as we persevere in prayer, provided that we do so in great humility as Job did and resist the temptation to ascribe evil motives to God in the midst of our suffering.

Last, we also notice that before God restored Job’s fortune, Job had to pray for his “comforters”. Doing so for Job would have also required a healthy does of humility. It is not easy to pray for friends who turn out to be worse than our enemies! This also required Job to demonstrate his love for both God and people. As we have seen many times before, the biblical definition of love is much more concerned about what we do to help people than how we feel about them. By praying for his friends so that God could provide atonement for them, Job demonstrated to all concerned that he was willing to love both God and neighbor by obeying God’s command for him to intercede for his friends. Likewise for us. We too are called to pray for the needs of others, even (or especially) the needs of our enemies and persecutors.

Turning now to our gospel lesson, and in stark contrast with the complexity of Job’s situation, we see blind Bartimaeus, who has a straightforward request to see and who prays for himself. And like the psalmist and Job, we can relate to Bart as well. Each one of us has been in situations where we cry out for Jesus to help us and desperately want to hear from Jesus the words Bart heard: “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s like Bartimaeus knows this is his one and only chance to really be healed instead of settling for a life of being patronized as a blind beggar, and he jumps at it–literally. So what can we learn from this poignant story?

First, like Job, we see great humility and faith in Bart. He knows he needs help and we cannot help but admire him for not wanting to be a victim the rest of his life. So he tells Jesus he wants to see when Jesus asks him what he wants. Did you catch that? Jesus asked Bart the same question he asked James and John in last week’s lesson. But as Fr. Ron reminded us, James and John got it miserably wrong (and had their request denied) while blind Bartimaeus gets it right (and has his request granted). To be sure, there is a literal sense in Bart’s request. He wanted his eyesight restored, which surely required great faith and humility. But Mark also wants us to see the request at a deeper level. Notice what Bart did after Jesus saved him, itself another reminder of what happens when God’s kingdom breaks into our world (the Greek for save, sozo, can also mean to be healed). He followed Jesus on the Way. The Greek for the Way, hodos, is a technical term in the NT for Christian discipleship (cf. John 14.6; Acts 9.2; 19.23). Bart already had acknowledged Jesus as Messiah by calling him “Son of David,” which was scandalous enough. But after being healed, he is prepared to see Jesus as more than Messiah by following Jesus as Jesus heads to Jerusalem and his death on a cross. So here Mark is reminding us that faith and humility are essential elements, both for prayer and for following Jesus. What are you doing to demonstrate your desire to see Jesus and follow him?

Second, we see great courage in Bartimaeus. While it is hard to know for sure, the Greek suggests that when the crowd told him Jesus was calling him, they were not happy with old Bart for making such a commotion. Is that any way to treat a traveling Big Shot like Jesus? Yet Bartimaeus leaves his cloak, the very thing he would have used to gather up people’s donations to him, and goes to Jesus. Mark wants us to see that Bartimaeus is modeling what is necessary to be Jesus’ disciple. He is willing to give up everything to follow Jesus and he is willing to risk public scorn to do so. How are you demonstrating great courage in your praying and discipleship to indicate to others that you are willing to follow Jesus wherever he calls you?

And of course all our praying is possible because as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, we have Jesus, our great High Priest, who is Lord of this world and who is always interceding for us. The function of the High Priest in ancient Israel was to offer atoning sacrifices to God on behalf of the people so that healing and reconciliation could occur and Israel’s relationship with God could be put to rights. Here, the writer of Hebrews is reminding us that in Jesus, God has taken care of our sins and the alienation it causes by dying for us on a cross. How can a God who does that for us be indifferent to our prayers, hurts, fears, and deepest desires? Like Mark, the writer is reminding us to always keep our focus on Jesus.

This, then, is how we ought to pray and live. We are to come to God in prayer with a humble attitude and we should believe that God can and does hear our prayers. We are to be open and honest with God, acknowledging that he is God and we are not. But here is the rub. If we do not really know God, we are likely to yield to the temptation to ascribe evil motives to God when our prayers are not answered in the manner we hope. This, in turn, will likely have a negative impact on our discipleship. Only when we come to know God’s great love for us—paradoxically through regular prayer, by reading and wrestling with Scripture, through intimate fellowship with God’s people, and by partaking in the sacraments—can we ever hope to know God in the manner Job and Bartimaeus did, and so trust that however God does or does not answer our prayers, he always has our best interest at heart, even when we cannot see or understand how God is working in our lives. And when we finally learn the truth of God’s great love for us, it will not only affect our praying and discipleship in many positive ways, we will also know what it means to have Good News, now and for all eternity.

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Ron Feister: Apostles are Human Too

Sermon delivered on Sunday, Trinity 20B, October 21, 2012, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH.

Lectionary texts: Job 38.1-7, 34-41; Psalm 104.1-9, 25, 37b; Hebrews 5.1-10; Mark 10.35-45.

Today’s Gospel Reading from Mark introduces us to two Apostles, men who have been living and working with Jesus, and who we might expect are living extraordinary lives, but in this story we see them in a not so favorable light.

In this passage from Mark we see James, often called James the Greater, and his brother John coming to Jesus and seeking to gain a preferential place in what at this time they believed the coming Messianic Kingdom. The same story also comes to us in the Gospel of Mathew which further elaborates that they came not just by themselves but with their mother, who also begged for a special place for her sons in the Kingdom.

In fairness, they had been among the first of those to follow Jesus, having been formerly disciples of John the Baptiser. They also came from a family of significance. Their Father, Zebedee was not only a fisherman, but appears, to have been the owner of several fishing boats and employed the men who served on them. The brothers, while expected to work on the boats, would have experienced a preferred way of life.  They would have had status and it was status that they or perhaps, their mother, expected.

The brothers came from an ambitious family and that ambition is seen in this episode.  It was an ambition that we find perhaps a little hard to understand as we recall from last weeks Gospel reading, where Jesus, with his disciples gather around him, had taken a child in his arms and told them that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter into it.

Jesus addresses the men’s request  and makes clear to them that their statement that they are willing to drink the cup – the cup of suffering, will indeed come true, but that the positions of greatest in the Kingdom belong to the Father. Jesus reminds them that whoever wants to be greatest in the Kingdom, must become the servant of all. A lesson he will reinforce at the Last Supper when he washed the disciples feet.

Dare we ask ourselves how ambitious are we? Are we more interested in title and position, than service. To strive to advance is not wrong, but when we step on other people to do so, are we acting like these Apostles who strove to put themselves first? Do we see that in God’s eyes, that the greatest are those that serve others?  Often such service can mean sacrifice and in some cases suffering.

These brothers, James and John, were also known for their quick and probably extreme tempers. So much so that they were called by Jesus the Sons of Thunder. This was not  meant as a term of affection. It is a term used only once by Jesus and never used again by any of the others. In Luke, the 9th Chapter, we have the story of Jesus heading toward Jerusalem and coming to a Samaritan Town, where they were refused service once the people there knew that they were Jews.

(It is necessary to understand that the division between the Samaritans and the Jews, once a common people, had grown so intense that to called it mutual hatred would not be too strong. It had all the characteristic of racial prejudice and more.)

Back to the brothers, James and John,  when they saw the way that the Samarians were treating Jesus, they said ” Lord do you want us to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” They had be comes so upset, so angry and out of control, and they were so prejudiced, that they really wanted to kill these people. Jesus turned and rebuked them. In today’s language, he really chewed them out for their clearly wrong thinking. He told them that the Son of Man came not to destroy lives but to save them.

How well do we control our tempers? When people treat us badly, do we hold them up in prayer or are we tempted to wish that they would go some place warmer? I know when I am driving, and some other driver cuts me off or does something that I consider stupid or reckless, praying for them is not the first thing that comes to my mind.  I have found that if I imagine the Jesus is sitting in my passenger seat, that I more quickly let that initial feeling go and take a more loving approach. After all, I really don’t want to be chewed out by Jesus, though in all honestly, sometimes, he still needs to do that to me.

Prejudices – we all have them.  The question is do we let them control how we related to others. Are we willing to come into others lives, the lives of people that are different from us, so that those lives may be made fuller by experiencing the Love of Jesus through us? James and John also it would appear did not like the thought that others could have the power that they enjoyed as followers of the Christ. Again in Mark, the 9th Chapter, we recall the story of a man who was casting out Demons in the name of Jesus even though not one of the Twelve. They wanted to stop him. He was encroaching on their territory. Jesus has to again instruct them, telling them that when one does a miracle in the Name of Jesus that person cannot quickly say any thing bad about Jesus. Are we willing to share our power as Children of God – the power to encourage, heal, lead, or share the Gospel?  Are we willing to let other Brothers and Sisters in this community of St. Augustine take the lead?  Are we willing to work with other Brothers and Sisters of the Lord from other expressions of God’s one, holy and catholic church?

Now up to this point we have been picking on James and John. Understandable given that they were the focus of today’s Gospel, but they are not the only Apostles with shall we say less than perfect characteristics. The Apostle Peter was another example of being a very human Apostle. He was known to speak first and think later.  He had the wisdom to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and the foolishness to deny that Jesus had to suffer and die. He was the Rock and he was the stumbling block.  He had the courage to step out of the boat to walk on the water, and the weakness of faith that caused him to begin to sink. He was quick to promise to be forever faithful even unto death, and when the time came to be courageous, he denied our Lord three times.

How many times have we spoken first and thought later?  I regret to say that I do it way too often.  There have been times that I have committed to do some project or activity and been unable to follow through or have followed through very poorly because I have not counted the cost of living up to what I committed to do. Are we willing to step out of the boat – to respond to God’s call?  Maybe its being a Reader or Visiting the Retirement Home or Visiting the Sick.  We should not be surprised that when we respond to God’s call to step out that we can get scarred. We can be overwhelmed and feel like we are sinking. It is then that we need to remember that even Peter needed as he was beginning to sink to feel the presence of Our Lord to sustain him. Examining our lives have there been times when we while saying that we are believers in Christ, have not had the courage to  share our faith with others?

Then there is my personal favorite of the Apostles. Thomas, often called Thomas the Doubter, after he demanded proof that the Lord was really risen. He needed to know that Jesus was truly alive; he was not just willing to take someone else word for it. There are some who would say that Christians should be strident and so confident in their faith that one should never have a doubt about their faith. I  believe that Thomas shows us that even Apostles can have doubts and that Jesus is willing to meet us in those doubts and in doing so Jesus shows us tangibly how much he loves us.

In today’s business world, if Jesus had hired a professional recruiter or human resource firm, it is doubtful that any of the Twelve would have made the cut except perhaps one. After the death of Jesus, all the  Apostles and other disciples, cowered in fear, totally immobilized, until they were transformed by the Gift of God’s Holy Spirit. After receiving that Gift, they were able, despite their human weakness and limits, to give birth to what today we call the church.

James the Greater bcame known for his compassion and his willingness to witness to the Gospel – so much so that he was the first of the Apostles to be martyred. John, a “Son of Thunder” became  known as John the Beloved. Known for his courage and the care that he gave to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He blessed the Church with several books of the Bible.

Peter was able to serve as Leader of the early Christian community providing a Rock upon which it could build and grow and was probably the first of the Apostles to take the Good News to the Gentiles. In time, he had the courage to also be a Martyr.

Thomas that Doubter was so strong in his faith that he was able to spread the Gospel all the way to India.

Now when I began this talk, I said the theme was Apostle are human too. It was not Apostles were human too. The term that we use as Apostles means one who is sent out. One sent out to witness to the life and love of Jesus the Son of God and Messiah and the Good News that the divide between humans and God has been overcome. We by the grace of the Holy Spirit are all called to be Apostles. To be ambassadors for Christ.

Like the Twelve, we have our limitations, our weakness, and our failures – some very great, but with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, we like the Apostles of the New Testament, can still be people that are sent out into the World to bring it God’s love and Good News. We can be bridge builders helping others to find hope and fellowship with God. In the end, when we are gone, perhaps they will say of us, we were human, but we were also Apostles. Amen.