Alex Zuber, Harrisonburg, VA

Warm-up Question

Can you think of a moment when you got some much-needed good news?  What did that feel like?

Some Good News

We could all use some good news these days, right?  That was exactly the kind of thinking that inspired John Krazinski, star of The Office and Jack Ryan, to launch a heartwarming series of videos called “Some Good News” from his own home, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Krazinski sets up at a makeshift news desk to tell the world about the good things happening in the midst of so much bad.  He talks about the bravery of healthcare workers and teachers going the extra mile for students while still social distancing.

He shares some laughs along the way and  even brings friends into the mix, interviewing The Office co-star Steve Carell.  Krazinski made a young girl’s day, by not only planning to fly her out to New York to see Hamilton when it’s safe to travel, but by inviting Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Original Cast of Hamilton to sing the title song over Zoom.  Krazinski is honest about the bad stuff, acknowledging that there’s pain in the world.  But in the midst of fear, confusion, and pain, he points us all back to what is good.

Like a fresh breath of air into these troubled times, Some Good News is just what everyone needs.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you been focused on good news or bad news lately? 
  • When we find ourselves in the midst of global pandemic, how should we balance the joy of Easter with our need to be honest about the bad news and dangers? 
  • What has some good news been from your week?  What has been the bad news?

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The disciples are locked in their meeting house together, fearful and desperate.  Perhaps this lesson is too relevant these days!  Like those of us living through a global pandemic, the stresses of physical distancing, and the general climate of fear, Christ’s disciples are in a similar situation.  They are completely lost, nothing makes sense, and they don’t know what is coming next.  How can anything go back to normal after they’ve followed Jesus?  How could their lives be normal after their friend betrayed their master?  How can their lives ever be safe when they may be recognized and killed as disciples of this self-proclaimed “Son of God”?  They are right to be scared.

It’s in this place of fear that Jesus comes to them.  Through their locked doors, through their fear, through their worry for whatever the future may hold, Christ comes to them and says, “Peace be with you.”

Christ’s peace in this situation is a curious thing.  Christ’s peace changes nothing, and yet it changes everything.  Think about it… The disciples already knew that he is risen.  They have heard this from the mouths of the faithful women who were the first to find the tomb empty.  And yet they hide in fear.  Jesus says “Peace be with you” but the threat of recognition and death still remains, should they leave their home.  Their pain at betrayal by a friend and horror at the crucifixion they witnessed remains.  Even after this scene they lock themselves away in fear again.  

The disciples proclaim to Thomas, when he returns, that they were witnesses to the Resurrection.  Christ’s resurrection peace changes something in this group.  Even if it takes a while for them to leave the safety of their locked home, the disciples’  lives are never  the same again.  They have received, like a breath of fresh air, the Spirit of the living, resurrected God.  Christ’s peace changes nothing, and yet it changes everything. 

The Peace of Christ is not a magic trick, a supernatural cure-all, or a get out of jail free card that just makes all bad things go away.  This peace surpasses all understanding.  It is a defiant hope that all things will be made new in the love of Christ, and that death, fear, despair, and betrayal will never have the last word.  

Knowing that Christ is truly present with us, shut up in our homes or when we make a dangerous journey out, does nothing to change that COVID-19 is deadly.  We are right to take necessary precautions.  Christ’s peace does not dismiss our doubts and fears, but acknowledges them.  Christ’s peace doesn’t ignore our failures and sins, but it’s big enough to hold them in grace.  We need the story of the fearful disciples and Thomas’ moment of doubt as we figure out how to live as Easter people.  

Christ’s peace acknowledges our pain, but it doesn’t leave us there.  Christ’s peace is making all things new.  Christ’s peace is the good news in the midst of the bad news.  Christ’s peace comes to us again and again, in good times and bad, “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

Discussion Questions

  • Do you have doubts and fears?  Share some of them.
  • What does it say about Jesus that he meets the disciples in the midst of their fear and weakness? 
  • How can we understand Christ’s peace in the midst of COVID-19?

Activity Suggestions

  • Find a conversation partner, either in your group or someone at a distance with whom you can call on video chat.  Share with one another the Good News, Bad News, and Peace/Hope of your past week.  (Some may have done this as High/Lows, Rose/Thorn/Bud, etc.)  Be honest and thoughtful about each category, especially when acknowledging the Bad News.  Discuss what it means that Christ’s love is big enough to hold your Bad News too.
  • Start a Journal this week that is honest about the Good News, the Bad News, and the signs of Peace/Hope you see in your life.

Closing Prayer 

God of peace, who brought again from the grave our Lord Jesus Christ, meet us in the the locked rooms of fear we find in our lives.  Your love is deeper than the depths of despair, higher than any joy.  Give us eyes to see the Good News around us, and give us grace to bear the bad news.  Breathe your living Spirit on us, and raise us up to proclaim your peace and hope to a weary world.  We pray these things in the name of your risen Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.