Text: Luke 24:36-48
The Rev. Dr. D. William Faupel
April 19, 2015
Did you miss Easter this year? By this I’m not implying that of you that missed “coming to church two weeks ago. I suspect all of you who are here today, were here then as well. Rather I mean did you feel like Easter came and went and nothing feels different. If you were able to experience fully the risen Christ on Easter morning and the “Alleluias” you said came from the heart, you are indeed most blessed.
However, if you feel that Easter passed you by this year, don’t despair. There are two things you should know. First, our Lord understands! As I wrote in my Saturday Musings last week, “the presence of God among us does not rely on our comprehension of Him.” He is here even when we do not sense His presence. Second and equally important, He also appears in our midst when we least expect Him. By that I mean, we often experience his “felt” presence when we least expect it.
In the passage of scripture that comes just before today’s Gospel, we read of two men walking to their home village on Easter evening. They are despondent and feel betrayed. How could their master have been crucified when they had staked their hopes on Him as their Savior? Suddenly, unexpectedly Jesus was there. He met them where they were: in their grief, in their sense of betrayal, in their sense of loss, in their not knowing what to do next. He sat them at table, and broke bread with them, “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”
In last week’s Gospel, we find that Jesus appears to the twelve, his closest friends. He finds them huddled behind locked doors, terrified that the Jewish authorities, who took Jesus, were now coming for them. And as today’s Gospel informs us, when it was Jesus, not some Jewish official who appears in the room, their terror is intensified. They thought He was a ghost. After all the doors were locked, he did not bother to knock. He was just there!
Then He speaks. What does He say? “Peace be with you.” What a joke! The disciples were hiding behind closed doors. Locked doors and protected boarders may make us feel more secure, but they certainly do not bring us a sense of peace. Instead fear and anxiety persist. Yet we find that we find that we Jesus speaks the anxiety, the fear, the terror subsides. What has happened?
Christ’s very presence brings peace. Our fears that hold us captive: fears of illness, unemployment, loneliness or death, subside. To experience Christ’s presence enables us intuitively to understand in just a small way the power of His resurrection.
It is the power of His indwelling presence that plants seeds of change: transforming our experiences of fear into experiences of peace. Closed doors and closed minds are opened because we are given the gift of seeing the world through God’s eyes.
Does our situation change when this happens? Not at first. He does not remove us from the situation that we are in. Rather His felt presence enables us to see our circumstances from His perspective. We come to understand the pain of our despair in relation to the exhilaration of hope. We see the angst of our anxiety in relation to the promise of assurance. It is a process by which nothing is changed, but because our perspective has changed, everything has changed
God’s transforming Word calls us to peace, but peace does not necessarily mean security. Being transformed requires change. Change itself can create anxiety. It sounds like we are moving between a rock and a hard place. But that is exactly where God wants us! That is where we recognize our dependence upon Him. That is when we experience His resurrection power!
When Jesus appeared to His disciples who were hiding behind locked doors their fear and anxiety disappeared. They came to a new understanding of themselves and of their capabilities. It became clear to them what they were to do next. They were to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them in a new and special way and would empower them to be witnesses of what they had experienced, first in Jerusalem, their home town, then to all of their country and finally throughout the whole earth.
What Jesus did for them, while He was still physically on earth, He has promised to do for us through His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. As our scriptures declare, Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He meets us where we are, wherever that may be. And when He comes He not only helps us to understand Him better, He gives us a clearer understanding of ourselves especially when we are having a difficult time trying to figure ourselves out. He will let us know what comes next and will give us the courage and strength to accomplish it.
So if you missed Easter this year, don’t despair. He will come to you when you least expect it! Allow Him to calm you anxieties and learn to lean on His strength. Amen.