April 15, 2018 Sermon

Love Means Showing Up…even when you’re afraid

Luke 24:36b–48        

Jesus was crucified, died and was placed in a tomb. While he was in the tomb, his disciples basically hid in the upper room. The women went to the tomb to tend the body and found Jesus was gone. He then appeared to Mary Magdalene, who only recognized him when he spoke her name. She ran to tell the other disciples.

The disciples walking along the Emmaus road had a similar experience of being with Christ but not recognizing him. Finally, they went into their homes and they recognized Christ as he broke the bread. Then he disappeared.

Back to that upper room and everyone is talking. Probably all at once. About this appearance of Jesus and the “know-him-know-him-not” phenomena. They are all still consumed with confusion and fear, when Jesus appears and tries to re-assure them that what is happening is what was expected. 

Some catch on. Some do not. They are caught in the in-between.  They are swallowed by the ambivalence of the situation…Do I run? Do I stay? Is he dead? Is he alive?

Luke 24:36-48

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”[a] 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.[b] 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah[c] is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses[d] of these things.

So the disciples are thrown, head long into a time between…a time of great ambivalence…alive…dead…alive. Of course, they have layer upon layer of confusion and ambivalence. Just a week earlier it was a parade with palm leaves waving and the shouting of, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” Now there’s crucifixion with, “Crucify him, crucify him!” followed by “Peace be with you.” Well, that’s just confusing and unclear and uncertain and in-between in some humongous way. 

Twilight…the time between day and night…is for many a terrible time of day. It’s a time of confusion, a time of everything changing. The sun is gone and sounds and activities of day time have come to an end. But the things of the night are not yet started. No night sounds. No night visioon. You can’t even see well in the twilight because your eyes don’t know what to do. Some people, particularly those averse to change, automatically hate this time of day. 

Ambivalence, when something isn’t clearly one or the other, is kind of like twilight. There is a Harvard study on infants and their response to change. When the infant is greeted by a different face and sounds than are typical, 20% of the infants respond with thrashing limbs and crying. At birth, 20% of us, hate change. 40% love it. The most interesting thing is this programming, this response as an infant never changes. The study tracked the same infants for 30 years and found they still responded negatively to change. 

That’s where the disciples were, in the twilight. Caught between the daylight of Christ living with them and the darkness of the world in his absence. And they had a deep response to the situation and to the change that they were thrust into. 

Like twilight and the discomfort of being between day and night, the disciples were caught between and felt that deep sense of discomfort. Fear. Confusion. Inability to see. To think clearly. To predict the outcome. To develop a plan. Neither here nor there. 

It’s uncomfortable.

We live in an in-between time of confusion and change. We kind of know where we were but we have almost no idea of where we’re going. The world is spinning too fast. It’s as thought the rug has been pulled, we’ve hopped into the air, and now we wait to come down. We’re stranded on the highway in the twilight. No clear sunrise yet and no clear sunset. We’re just here, in confusion and ambivalence. 

But Christ tells them…he is the peace that he is leaving with them and they are to take that peace to the world. Christ has the nerve to see these confused, frightened people and tell them to take his peace out into the world. The world that crucified him. The world that went from Hosanna to Crucify in a week!

We are between the daylight and the dark. When we gather as a church, we gather in the light. The light of Christ’s love. The light of Christ’s mercy. The light of Christ’s grace. We relax and bask in this time together with each other and before our God. We enjoy this time in the light like a trip to the beach. Like that warm sunny day in the midst of the dark, dreary winter.

This phenomena happens over and over in our lives, we get to places of peace and happiness, the mountaintops of victory, places where we feel comfortable and we want to stay there. Right now, you can filter your whole world view so it never causes any pushing against the way you want to see things. 

This is a new time. It’s actually the opposite of what we used to know as education…the ability to know enough about something to see it from both sides. Remember, a good debater could argue any point for or against.  And now, we avoid, as best we can, and we get some help from our biased news sources and internet manipulation…but we avoid the other side’s view. We avoid it altogether. 

Our world is darker now because we’ve lost the ability to see from another view point. We’ve locked ourselves in rooms of our own making, our own sense of truth. We used to gather around the same hour of information, same news in the evening, we heard the same facts. Now we are in a darkness of confusion inside our own silos of warped truth and skewed perspectives, of opinions masquerading as fact. 

We’ve decided to just stay in our own version of light. To never venture forth into the darkness. To avoid the twilight altogether. Skip ambivalence and live in our own sense of certainty. 

We allow this fear of those who are different, of facing the ambivalence of the world to stop us from witnessing to a life-changing, heart-altering faith! We can’t witness to those outside of here, because we don’t even speak to them. 

At times, our fear stops us from even experiencing Christ. We’re so afraid of what he’ll ask of us. We are afraid of the twilight. Of the change from one thing to the other. Our own change. Of transformation from what we are to what God would have us be. 

Like the disciples. Locked in the room, afraid to leave for fear of the dark. 

Christ shows up with the LIGHT. 

So let your light shine! among others that they may see your good works and bring glory to God in heaven.

We gather here, in worship.

In the LIGHT. 

We aren’t just called to go home after worship. We are called to be transformed, changed…here in the light. Then  we are called to take this LIGHT with us into the darkness.

To face the twilight and walk straight into the night, carrying the peace, the love, the light of Christ.

We, like the disciples can lock ourselves away and avoid all of the changes. We can put ourselves in a silo with just others like us. We can pick our sources of information so we never have to see outside.

We can also just leave the LIGHT here and keep it a secret. Not let that light influence and guide the rest of our lives. 

But that’s not where Jesus leaves the disciples and it’s not where he sends us. 

proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses[d] of these things.

Jesus shows up! In the confusion…in the time between light and dark…or maybe between dark and light…Jesus brings the LIGHT into the moment and he then tells those disciples to do the same…go witness to the light!

Like a friend that shows up…

when you’re packing boxes

our neighbor helping with the big tree branch

the church with lunch

or a house for a neighbor in need…

Why do we do things? Whose voice are we hearing and following?

He didn’t just tell them to go on living, to go back out into the world and leave their locked room. Jesus told them to take the peace of Christ, deliberately with them, and be witnesses to his life, to this peace, to Christ’s love and salvation in the world. 

And he didn’t just send them to the people that agreed with them. He sends them out from Jerusalem into the surrounding areas of people who aren’t Jews!

Jesus shows up and asks us to be a witness. Not to one another. Not to other people who are just like us.  Jesus is not about filtering the world so you only see and think just like you want to. Jesus is about going forth, understanding the others and building peace with them!!

God so loved the world.

Christ came for all the world. 

Christ shows up in the locked room where the disciples are trying to figure things out, where they are trying to stay safe, where they are with just one another. There they are, like us, with a bunch of people just like them. 

And Jesus wrecks it all and says…go and be a witness to the world!

Take the light of Christ with you.

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