The Rev. Kay Richardson
April 03, 2016
Now we have celebrated Easter and have entered the 50 days of the Easter season. At this time, I always feel when we come to this season as though I have been I have been thrust quite suddenly into bright sunlight after being in the 40-day long dark cave we call Lent. Being thrust into sunlight can be both blinding and a bit disorienting, so I think to myself, “now what?” And also, “where do we go from here?”
But, just where IS here? Where DO we stand today, in the midst of things?
Let us look at last week for a moment: We began Easter Sunday with a stone rolled away and an empty tomb. In our reading from Luke, the women were there with spices to finish the burial preparation of Jesus, but they find the tomb empty and open. They are told by angels that here is not there, he is risen. So they go and tell the other disciples, who come and take a peak. Then they all run away. They go home.
In this week’s reading we find them together again in the upper room, locked out of fear. This one statement give us much to ponder: Yes, there was joy; “He is risen!” now they are afraid, and not doing much. How did these early disciples move from that reality to the active, vibrant community we heard about in Acts, this morning? They were out and about in Jerusalem, near the Temple, healing and teaching about Jesus. Unafraid.
We might ask ourselves several questions, and we can ask them on several levels:
Where am I locked up and living in fear? Where is our congregation locked up and living in fear? Where is the church as a whole locked up and living in fear?
Let us begin by first looking at ourselves: where am I locked up? Is there something in me that is closed that needs opening, to let newness in, to let the risen life of Christ in? Of what am I afraid? What am I running from? Avoiding? Trying to hold back?
How about my church communities? (I have two.) how are they locked up in fear? And what is my role in that? Have I locked a door somewhere in my heart that I am afraid to open?
Now we come to the really important part. And here is a part of this story that I have noticed but not paid enough attention to. Notice: the disciples—and we—can lock ourselves up in a room somewhere, and Jesus doesn’t even notice that it’s locked for here he is in our midst in that locked upper room with us. Here, in this room, Jesus say, “Peace be with you” and he breathes on us and says, “receive the Holy Spirit. As the Father sent me, so I send you, “ and as a gift, he gives us the power to forgive.
After this, the disciples begin to move out of that room and tell others, like Thomas, who—a lot like you and me—says, ”Unless I see Jesus and tough him myself, I will NOT believe. So, Thomas came with the disciples to the upper room and has his chance to see Jesus and touch him, and his response is to say, “my Lord, and my God.”
All of this is a good lesson for us as we face our own futures. Allowing ourselves to take the gifts that we are given by the Risen Lord, and use them, first with those in our midst – our friends, family and acquaintances, and then outward into the rest of the world.
Now we are not staying locked up any more, but trusting Jesus’ presence in our lives, bringing us a new impetus to enter more deeply into this dazzling light of the unknown risen life where he leads us. And, what happened to the fear? It dissipates as we discover the new pathways that Jesus shows us. Now we can become engaged in this newness of life that has begun with Easter, remembering the gifts of forgiveness and healing that Jesus continues to bestow on god’s people.
This is living in grace—to let go of our own fear and live in the new life of Christ as we move forward in this Easter journey. Yes, there is much changing going on in our world today, but in the midst of those changes, we will discover new ways of being and new ways of doing that we never thought possible before.
Thanks be to God.