Shifting from Easter to Eastertide can feel like we’ve already missed the resurrection train. But Jesus had plans for his disciples to get back on board with the Holy Spirit – and he does for us, too.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”
– John 20:19-22
My thanks to everyone who helped with today’s Eastertide service celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at First United Methodist Church, Middletown – everything turned out so nicely, I appreciated your support so very much. Below is the text and some of the visuals from the skit that I used as today’s sermon. Printable PDF version can be downloaded from here. Enjoy!
Scene: A busy train station in a Jerusalem near you
[Running down the aisle towards a departing train] He is risen! He is risen indeed! He…wait, what, I missed him? Oh, dang. He must have left without me. I was traveling with this guy Jesus, you see, he promised to take us to this place called the Kingdom of Heaven, and, gosh, I dunno, I took a different way through the station, looks like he took off without me, and here I am, stuck in this crummy place, all alone. Can you imagine that? Man, what do I do now…?
Hmm, maybe I should get some help. [Crosses through waiting room to ticket window] Excuse me, could you help me please? I got separated from someone in my party. Could you page him, please? Name? Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth. Um, yeah, that one. You’ve heard of him? Yeah, I’m one of his disciples. Looks like some others missed the train, too. One guy didn’t even try to make the trip, though. Hey, could you help me, please, it’s been a long day, I’ve gotta find this guy. [PA voice: “PAGING JESUS OF NAZARETH, JESUS OF NAZARETH, PLEASE COME TO THE TICKET BOOTH TO MEET YOUR PARTY. THANK YOU.”] Thanks, I hope that works. Hey, in case he doesn’t show up, do you know which train I should be getting on next? Jesus said he was going to heaven. No trains leaving for there today? Oh. How about “Kingdom of Heaven?” Yeah, that’s it. Great. OK, let me see if Jesus shows up first, though. Would hate to leave without him. I’ll be waiting right over here. Thanks. [Moves to a waiting room bench]
Darn, I’m afraid to tell this guy what’s really going on. I guess he didn’t hear about Jesus getting killed a couple of days ago. You know, when Mary and the other women told us what had happened this morning, I can’t say that I was really believing what they said. I mean, I love Jesus, I love everything that he taught us, all of those miracles, all the ways that he touched people’s lives – it was great. It was a great ride on that discipleship train. He even helped us to follow his way. He called it the kingdom of heaven. I think that I understood what he meant by that, but now, I’m not so sure. It’s all been such a blur, these past few days. He talked about bread and wine becoming his body and blood at the Passover meal, then he got arrested, and flogged and then…I couldn’t believe it. They crucified him, like a criminal, just another of the thousands that the Romans have been crucifying outside the city. Looks like the discipleship train is at the end of the line. So now what?
OK, OK, I know, we chickened out. Yes, we weren’t there for him when he needed us most. I get it. Why should I expect a free ride from here? It’s just that, you know – I was hoping that it would have turned out differently. I had hoped that Jesus would be changing everything right here, right now. The Romans, gone. The temple, cleaned up and made right. The poor and sick, treated right. And yes, he was showing us how to do that, but if he’s the Son of God, why didn’t he just clean up everything himself? He could do it. Heck, you heard about those loaves and fishes, the wine at the wedding, Lazarus rising from the dead – there’s nothing he couldn’t do. Why did he even need us? Why can’t God just clean up this mess and get it over with?
Maybe that’s where he’s gone, now. I mean, if Mary and the women are right, he’s still around, waiting to do something else. Maybe I just have to sit tight, and he’ll take care of the rest…or maybe not. Maybe I’m just kidding myself. After all, why did we become disciples in the first place? We learned to do so much. We taught people about who Jesus was, about how God could forgive our sins and heal us, about how we could learn to treat each other with respect and to care for everyone the way that Jesus did. Heck, he even got Peter to walk on water for a little while – wasn’t that a sight! And the healings, wow, the healings – we were able to cast out demons and cure the sick! Jesus made all of that possible. But now, now…oh, I don’t know. I just don’t know. It can’t possibly be the way that it was before. It’s just not the same without him.
[Returns to ticket window] Anyone show up yet? Oh, really? That’s great! Where is he?? What did he say? What? Huh? He left a ticket for me? Oh, okay, great, thanks. Hey, wait a minute, I’ve never seen a ticket like this before. I see that it’s taking me to the kingdom of heaven, that much makes sense, but why am I getting back on the discipleship line? I just came from there. He said just keep making stops, we’ll get there soon enough? What’s that supposed to mean? I see, he said, don’t worry, he’ll be there with us, to the end of time. Hmm. I guess, I remember him saying that. Easy for him to say. How long will this trip take? Oh, I see, I’ve got until judgment day. Well, from what Jesus was telling us, it didn’t sound like it would take that long for that to happen, I suppose that won’t be too bad. Separating the sheep from the goats, all that. I mean, after all, that’s gotta be in my lifetime, right? Ya think? Oh, I see, he didn’t tell you that. Well, I guess if I’m making all the stops on the discipleship line I’ll be pretty busy in the meantime, anyway.
Oh, gosh. Wait a minute. I think that there are some mistakes here. This is a ticket for one adult and one child. What? It’s a ticket for Jesus, too? He’s gonna be on the train with me? Awesome! I hope he shows up soon, so we can all get going. But wait – I’m an adult, too, so…oh, I get it. It says “Child of God.” That’s what he called us on the mountain where he was giving that sermon. He said that the peacemakers would be blessed, and be children of God. Well, that’s certainly what we were doing with him. Even in the temple, when he was turning over those money changers’ tables, things were so much better afterwards. They were afraid to come back, and then everyone was able to pray in peace at the temple – at least for a while. You know, this peacemaking isn’t the easiest thing to do, I’m glad that Jesus will be helping us again.
But wait, please, there’s one more thing – this is a round trip ticket. I wasn’t planning on making a return from the kingdom of heaven. Oh, I see, Jesus said he’d be coming back? Did he say when? Man, for a ticketmaster, you’re not too good with schedules, are you? Do you have one I could look at, please. [Picks up a schedule] Ah, I see, there’s a footnote that Jesus put into the schedule for this line – “schedules subject to change without notice.” Well, we’re used to that. We headed all the way up to Ceasarea Phillipi, way the heck and gone, and wouldn’t you know it, we turned around and started right back down to Jerusalem. Took a long time, we barely made it here for Passover. Say, I’m hungry, is there a snack bar on this train? Bread and wine? Perfect. That tasted so good the other night at the Passover meal, felt like that would be all that we would ever need again. You know, this discipleship line isn’t so bad – it has its ups and downs, to be sure, but it will be great to see Jesus again on the train, I’m so glad that he’s letting us take this trip with him again.
Okay, okay, I’m just about done here. Thanks for your patience. So, I guess that’s it. What do I owe you for the ticket? It says here, one cross. Sorry, I don’t carry those with me, do you take cash? Oh, it’s the Holy Spirit train, now, they don’t take cash, and they don’t take credit. Well, that’s pretty much like the Jesus train, I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess the Holy Spirit is the new management for this line? Forgive the way Jesus forgave, judge the way he judged. I get it. It’s not the easiest thing to do, you know, he forgave the world on the cross – you heard about that? Yeah, we did too. Those are big shoes to fill, but if Jesus is going to come with us again, I guess we can manage it. But I sure hope that he’s there to help us.
So, how do I pay for this? What? Jesus paid for it in full? And he left us some change? [Three big nails drop.] Oh, my…my Lord and my God! I-I should have known! I didn’t recognize you! How can I thank you? I promise you, I’ll make every stop that I can this time, every stop for the Kingdom of Heaven! I am so sorry that I doubted you, Jesus! Hey! Jesus! Don’t leave me again! Wait! Wait up for me! I still have so much to learn! [Runs to catch a leaving train] Don’t leave me, Jesus! Take me with you on the Holy Spirit train! Jesus! Jeeeesussss!