Worship Service – April 24, 2022

Scriptures; Psalm 118:14-29, Revelation 1:4-8

Sermon Scripture; John 20:19-31

Message; “What’s the Good Word?”

Psalm 118:14-29

(14) The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
(15) Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord ‘s right hand has done mighty things!
(16) The Lord ‘s right hand is lifted high; the Lord ‘s right hand has done mighty things!”
(17) I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
(18) The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
(19) Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
(20) This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.
(21) I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
(22) The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
(23) the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
(24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(25) O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.
(26) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord, we bless you. (27) The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
(28) You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
(29) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Revelation 1:4-8

(4) John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits (5) before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (6) To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
(8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “

John 20:19-31

(19) On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (20) After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (21) Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (22) And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(24) Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. (25) So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
(26) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
(28) Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
(29) Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(30) Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. (31) But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Last week, shortly after I arrive for Sunrise Service, as I was greeting those who attended, one person greeted me by asking, “What’s the Good Word?” and my response to them was, “He is Risen”.
Well that question came to my mind as I was preparing for this week’s message. Hence the title of my message today is ”What’s the Good Word”.
Let me begin today with a quick story about a student from Korea who was complaining about how difficult it is to learn the English language. He felt that American idioms were particularly difficult to comprehend. He said that he had studied English for nine years in preparation for attending the University of Illinois. On his first day at the school, as he was walking across the campus, an American student casually greeted him with, “Hi, What’s the good word?” The Korean boy stopped dead in his tracks. He thought to himself: “I don’t know the good word! You would have thought that after nine years of studying English, someone would have told me what, ‘the good word’ was!”
Later, trying to solve this puzzle, he decided to turn the tables and ask an American, “What’s the good word?” and listen to their reply. So, approaching a fellow student, he repeated, “Hi! What’s the good word?” The quick response was, “Oh, not much. How about you?” It was obvious that neither of these students knew what the good word was.
How many of you have coined this phase when you greet a friend or a loved one? It’s a rather common greeting and it says a great deal about our lives. In our reading in Psalm 118, the writer’s response to that question is: “The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us” (Psalm 118:27). If you asked the writer of Revelation, ‘What’s the Good Word?’, he would respond to you, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Rev.1:7).
Last week at the Sunrise service our gospel reading was from John 20:1-18, and in the last 2 verses, 17 and 18, we’re told, after Mary Magdelene encounters the risen Christ he gives her an assignment: Go find the disciples, tell them the story of what she has seen, and deliver to them this message: “ I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
I can just imagine Mary Magdalene encountering the first of Jesus disciples, she’s excited, and just before they ask her, “What’s the Good Word”, she blurts out, “ I have seen the Lord!”
In our Gospel reading today verse 19 opens behind the closed, locked doors of the upper room in which the disciples are huddled. It’s the evening of that same day. Mary’s report had evidently done little to bolster the spirits of Jesus’ followers. Their locked-in, hunkered-down, letting the “fear of the Jews” control their thoughts and actions. I’m sure the disciples anticipated that the religious leaders, having gotten rid of the troublesome Jesus, would come after them next. It seems as if nothing would satisfy them but the complete eradication of this Galilean threat.
Then, after giving us a picture of the securely closed room, John reports that nonetheless Jesus “stood among them.” Before any opportunity to react, Jesus offers his disciples, ‘The Good Word for the day’: “Peace be with you!” he says to them.
The Jesus they thought had been taken from them by death, now stands in their midst offering them the incomprehensible surpassing “peace” he had pledged to make available to them. And even before these disciples ask, Jesus proves his real physical existence by showing them not only the wounds in his hands, but the mark of the spear thrust in his side. His ability to pass through a locked door notwithstanding, this is the same Jesus, the living human that his disciples had known and loved. He is no ghost or apparition.
So, after confirming his physical presence Jesus once again repeats his declaration of “Peace be with you!” Speaking of the peace that now is truly present among his disciples, their “fear” dispelled by Jesus’ physical presence among them. As John’s gospel has emphasized repeatedly, Jesus declares his and our mission saying: “As the Father has sent me, so I sent you” (v.21).
The number of those gathered in this closed room is never revealed in John’s text. But there is no reason to assume this group is only the ten apostles (Judas and Thomas being absent). It is to all those present, therefore, that Jesus gives his commission: “So send I you.” The ‘nuts and bolts’ of this “mission” is not spelled out. But in John 17:18, the world is identified as Jesus’ mission ground. The link from the Father, to the Son, and now to these “disciples” is a straight line. The mission that was his, as given by the Father, is now given to his followers.
This line becomes a living organic lifeline with Jesus’ next action. When Jesus “breathed” the gift of the Holy Spirit into that closed room, he performed spiritual CPR on his disciples. Crouched fearfully together, Jesus stepped into their midst and breathed peace, purpose, and possibility back into their deflated souls. Unlike Luke’s Pentecost in Acts 2: 1-4 where the sound of a rushing wind and flames of fire mark the Holy Spirit presence and power. In John’s Pentecostal moment it’s a breath of fresh air that invades a shuttered, stale room.
The Holy Spirit is breathed out for all to take in. An exhalation of God’s Spirit that is then inhaled deeply and fills up the disciples. Jesus “breathes” and invites all to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was giving his disciples the Holy Spirit. In fact, the word for breath and spirit in the scriptures, are the same. Jesus was preparing them to go into the world as witnesses in the wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit. You see apart from God‘s divine power and presence within them there was no hope of succeeding.
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon believers temporarily for specific task. That may be the case here. These same disciples would be baptized in the Holy Spirit 50 days later on the day of Pentecost. It seems that the new ministry of the Spirit was not intended to begin until Christ work on earth was fully completed, and he ascended into heaven.
As a pastor I’ve been questioned many times about John 20:23 were Jesus told them: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” So, before you ask, let me help you in your understanding.
The Scriptures teach that God alone can forgive sins. So, Jesus was not giving his followers the authority to pardon or pronounce judgment on their own. So, you may ask, “What did Jesus mean?” There may be a clue in the Old Testament ministry of the prophets. A prophet was said to have accomplished things he actually only reported. When he declared something done it was as though he had done it himself. Jesus gave authority to his disciples, by the Holy Spirit, to declare what God had already done when someone trusts in Christ.
Understand this, Jesus did not intend this declaration of forgiveness as reserved only for the disciples. God does not forgive people‘s sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather those who proclaim the gospel are in fact forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers except or reject Jesus Christ.
Only John’s gospel records the next post-resurrection account. Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, missed Jesus’ first locked room visit with the other disciples. Despite the excitement voiced by the others, Thomas refuses to believe until he not only sees for himself but also feels the marks of the crucifixion nails and the spear wound. Only when those conditions are met will Thomas affirm that a true “resurrection” of Jesus’ body has taken place.
In v.26 it is once again the first day of the week, “eight days later,” when the disciples are again gathered in the house. This time Thomas is present. Again, the doors are “shut.” But notice that this time the doors are not closed out of “fear.” The closed doors enable Jesus to again appear “among them” in a miraculous manner. Jesus greets his disciples, offering them the “peace” that had already calmed the fears of those who had been present the week before.
Jesus now directly addresses Thomas and invites him to go ahead and perform the physical exam he had demanded. But Jesus’ real invitation is for Thomas to give up his doubt, his faithlessness, and instead embrace faith.
Though Thomas had talked boldly about needing to poke and prod Jesus’ risen body before he would arrive at a resurrection faith, there is no written record of him actually carrying out those investigations. Instead, based upon what he sees with his own eyes, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (v.28). Think about this. The last disciple to witness the risen Jesus in that small room is the first to explicitly declare Jesus as divine by saying: “My Lord and my God.”
Jesus accepts Thomas’ confession. Yet Jesus also gently chides Thomas for having to depend upon eyesight to elicit faith. John’s gospel has not mentioned any specific individuals who had “believed” though they had not seen the risen Jesus. Mary Magdalene and the other disciples had also believed because they had seen Jesus’ resurrected body. Jesus’ words, then, are forward looking, reminding the disciples of the commission he had given to them eight days ago. The disciples are being “sent” by the Son and the Father, but it is their embodiment, their indwelling of his spirit, not Jesus’ risen body, that will stand before “the world.”
John’s final words (vv.30-31) take Jesus’ blessing in v.29 and extend them to the next generation, and in fact, to every new generation that reads this gospel. The entire reason for the existence of John’s writings is to communicate the truth that by faith, all who believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”, “you may have life in his name.”

And that’s the Good Word!

In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220424
Listen To Audio: Service 04242022
Call to Worship:
L:  Into your presence we come, God of Grace and Peace,
P:  who was, and is and ever shall be the eternal One.
L:  Into fellowship we come, bound together in the love
P:  that died and rose again for us, our Savior Jesus Christ.


Prayer of Confession:   When we meet those who are doubting and say nothing, forgive us.  When we meet those who need your touch and do nothing, forgive us.  When we are called to take up your cross and carry nothing, forgive us.  May we declare with heart and soul and voice that you are our Lord and our God. Amen.



Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday Mornings from 10:30 to 12:30.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to General Fund.

Social Hour after Sunday Services next week.

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 9:00 A.M. 

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, April 26th, 2022.

Franklin Hill Cemetery Association annual meeting on May 10th at 6:00 P.M. in the Community Building

Presbyterian Women will meet on Thursday, May 12th at 11 A.M.

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday May 18th at 8:00 A.M.

Please mark your envelope if you are contributing to the piano repair fund.



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