Sunday, April 30, 2006

3 Easter B

Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 98:1-5; 1 John 1:1-2:2; Luke 24:36b-48

Normal kids are star-struck by amazing athletes, sleek supermodels, rock stars and movie stars, presidents and princesses. Normal kids. Me? When I was a kid, I was star-struck by David Copperfield.

Master magician. Incredible illusionist. Dashing good looks. In my book, he was a superstar! I was still in elementary school when my parents took us to see his show at the city auditorium, where I sat for two hours, awestruck, that this man could make so many things disappear and then reappear right before my eyes. Do you remember when he made an airplane disappear on live television? I stayed up late to watch it, hardly blinking. I also watched when he walked right through the Great Wall of China. And when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

We saw another show a few years later, and this time we stayed after to get his autograph. I was so excited, and it seemed to take forever to get to the front of the line. When the line rounded the corner, there he was, right there, his pen flying across the glossy photographs handed to each star-struck fan as they moved past. My mom was ahead of me, and I watched David Copperfield give her an autographed picture without so much as looking up. And then….time itself disappeared as I stood in front of him. I couldn’t believe it. There he was. Right there. In a daze, I saw the picture move toward my hand, but I guess I didn’t move, because he looked up at me – at me! He met my goofy grin with a dashing “don’t-you-see-the-line-behind-you” smile and said “thank you for coming” as my mom pulled me away….what a joy-filled, unbelievable moment for this kid!

In their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, Luke writes of the disciples as they stared at Jesus. There he was. Right there. Not even David Copperfield could have done it. Jesus had practically appeared out of nowhere in the Upper Room, where the doors had been locked for three days. Not to mention he had apparently moved, by himself, an enormous stone to leave the tomb in which he had been buried. Buried. Most unbelievably of all, Jesus, whom they had seen die, was alive.

Well, they weren’t sure at first. Luke tells us the disciples first thought Jesus was a ghost. Even starstruck kids know people can’t really walk through walls. The disciples were terrified. But Jesus met their startled faces with his steady gaze and said, Peace be with you. Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see.

As the disciples looked at him, as they touched him, as they placed a meal of broiled fish in his hands, as they listened to him teach….how many times before had they heard that voice, touched those hands, watched them do amazing things….As they looked and touched and listened, the disciples saw that Jesus was not a ghost, not an illusion. He was there. Right there. Jesus, whom they had seen die, was alive.

This is our third Sunday in Easter, but time seems to have disappeared because we are still hearing about events that occurred on the day of resurrection. For three Sundays we have heard how the sometimes joyful, often terrified, always disbelieving and wondering followers of Jesus try to understand what has happened. For three Sundays the only proof of resurrection they (and we) have been offered has been the invitation to experience by sight and touch and sound the presence of the living Christ.

No other proof is possible. Resurrection was a historical event, yes, but how do you measure a new heaven and a new earth? How do you date everlasting life? How do you communicate unbelievable, disbelieving joy? Resurrection was an event….but we know not how, except by the experience of a handful of women and men at the tomb, on the road, in the Upper Room – the experience of the presence of the living Christ, the same Jesus Christ whose life and ministry had been filled with remarkable sights and sounds, with fish and fishermen. The same Jesus Christ whom they had seen opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, healing the hurts of so many with his touch. The same Jesus Christ whose life had taken him to the cross. The same Jesus Christ whose life ended in death. They had witnessed it all.

This is our third Sunday in Easter, and three times we have heard how the disciples locked themselves in the Upper Room after Jesus died, in fear, in disbelief, in grief. Everything they had believed about their friend, their rabbi – their superstar – had crashed down around them. And three times we have heard how, in the midst of their despair, guilt, anger, fear and self-imposed locked up isolation, Jesus came and stood among them. He was there. Right there. Look at my hands and my feet, he said….Touch me and see….These are my words that I spoke to you about all of God’s redeeming work, about death and resurrection – listen and hear. You are witnesses of these things.

You are witnesses. What you have seen, show. What you have heard, tell. Resurrection and repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in my name to all nations, beginning from right here
, Jesus told them that first Easter day. You are witnesses of these things.

How do you communicate unbelievable, disbelieving joy? Those women and men would come down from the Upper Room, and would offer the only proof they had, as we heard in the first letter of John: We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life….

We, of course, are far removed from that day in the Upper Room, from the historical event of resurrection. We don’t have the experience those women and men had, of seeing and touching and hearing Jesus. Blessed are we who have not seen and yet have come to believe, right? But because of their witness, and the witness of those who followed them, and those who followed them….now all these years later, we are here as a community of faith, celebrating Easter in the presence of the Body of Christ. Do you see that living body? Look to your right and your left. Have you touched it? Reach for a hand beside you. Have you heard it? Speak a word to someone near you – it’s in your voice as well as theirs.

And so Jesus comes to us over and over again, if we have eyes to see. We prayed earlier that God would open the eyes of our faith to see Jesus in all his redeeming work, work that has continued in the witness of those who have come to believe. We see him in times and places and people we would never expect. We see him in the hands and feet of others, and hear him in their words. We see him in those with whom we share a meal of broiled fish, or fried catfish, or sushi, or tuna fish sandwiches, or bread and wine. He meets us where we are, in our daily lives, our everyday routines, in our despair and our joy, in our fear, in our questioning and wondering and even in our disbelieving. Jesus comes to us, if we have eyes to see. How have each of us seen or heard or touched the presence of Jesus in our lives? In our common life? We are witnesses of these things.

Look at my hands and my feet, Jesus said to his disciples, showing them he was indeed living and not dead or a ghost or an illusion. But he was also showing them how others, not present with them in the Upper Room, would come to believe in the resurrection. Before there were creeds or doctrines or even gospels to read, there would be only people with hands and feet and voices and hearts filled with joy and disbelief and wonder all bearing witness to Jesus’ living presence in the world.

[ (at 10:30 service only) On this third Sunday of Easter, we will witness the baptism of Michael Angus Michaels, and the blessing of his parents’ civil marriage. We will promise to support them in their new lives together, to be the Body of Christ for them, to see the Body of Christ in them. By our word and example – by our witness – little Michael will experience the presence of the risen Jesus, and in the sight and sound and touch of the waters of his baptism, we too will experience that dying and rising to new life all over again. How will we communicate to him that unbelievable and disbelieving joy? The only way we have. Michael, we declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…. ]

May God open the eyes of our joyful, disbelieving, wondering hearts to see Jesus in all his redeeming work. We are witnesses of all these things. We are the Body of Christ. Amen.

1 comment:

lucymiller4752599569 said...

Get any Desired College Degree, In less then 2 weeks.

Call this number now 24 hours a day 7 days a week (413) 208-3069

Get these Degrees NOW!!!

"BA", "BSc", "MA", "MSc", "MBA", "PHD",

Get everything within 2 weeks.
100% verifiable, this is a real deal

Act now you owe it to your future.

(413) 208-3069 call now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.