Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter 2A

Picture by Jamie Kirk Cain taken from WHNT News Channel 19
In this Easter season we celebrate resurrection.  It somehow seems a little harder to do after the events of this last week.

Where is there resurrection in the destruction?  As I see images of beloved dollies hanging in broken trees, look in the tired eyes of a refugee, see schools, churches, and homes destroyed, I struggle to see resurrection. 

Here in this hallowed place we know what our brothers and sisters are going through on so many levels.  This place of tradition, memories, and memorials.  This place that has literally been smashed to pieces by forces beyond the control of its people and rebuilt with love.  It is a place that has lived resurrection in so many ways.  It glorifies a resurrected savior and I wonder, is that what it means to live a resurrected life? 

The picture of the disciples in this closed room shows they do not quite grasp living a resurrected life.  Meal times have become more about meeting needs rather than enjoying the smells and flavors of favorite foods and fellowship with brothers and sisters.  Everyone is afraid to go out.   It is easier to stay inside the darkened room than to take the chance of coming upon those that are watching every move.  Jesus was crucified for his teaching and challenging the religious leaders.  He turned all they taught upside down and it did not go over well. 

Every move they make is watched closely.  Especially now that his body is missing.  Mary Magdalene has shared that she talked with Jesus, but somehow it just seems too farfetched. 

They must have thought they were seeing things when they saw Jesus.  They had watched him breathe his last from the cross.  In spite of Mary’s words, it is hard to believe he is here.

But it is him. His voice. His smile.  “Peace be with you" he says and with his hands and side show that it is indeed Jesus.  Jesus resurrected. 

And poor Thomas, he misses this.  And Thomas cannot believe it is true.  He wants to see proof.  And because that is how Jesus meets us, he returns.  He lets Thomas reach out and touch him.  It is then Thomas’ doubts fall away and he acknowledges his lord and savior.  Because Jesus met him where he was, Thomas believes.

That is how we begin to trust in this Jesus who died for us.  When he meets us where we are.  In the midst of our doubts, our insecurities, our brokenness.  He does this in the hands, words, touch, and hearts of those unafraid to share this gift of love.  It is there that we learn what it means to be resurrected.  To have all our dark and broken places filled with the healing love of God. 

As that healing occurs, we are filled with the desire to share that with others.  God moves us to that place where we want to share that gift we have been given.

Much like how this very building was resurrected.  To be smashed to pieces by something beyond our control and to be rebuilt in love.  That is living a resurrected life.

To love enough that even when all is smashed there is hope for a new day, a new beginning, a new path.  To love enough to stay in the midst of brokenness, dashed dreams, trashed trust.  To love enough to see poor choices, less than healthy decisions, and accept we cannot change them.  

To hope that tomorrow will bring more moments of joy than pain for those we walk with.  To hope that our words and hands make a difference for someone today.  To hope that someone’s load is made easier by a kind word or a hug.    

To trust that even when it doesn’t seem so, what we do matters.  To trust that being faithful means doing things that sometimes don’t feel comfortable.  To trust enough to put our hearts out there again knowing they might be shattered once more.

In times like this week as we struggle to understand what has happened we, like Thomas, want proof of God’s presence in our lives. For me that has been in the prayers offered, the stories heard, the kindnesses shared with strangers.

When our worlds are shaken up, what is important comes to the fore.  We are reminded that it isn’t the stuff that matters.  It is the love.  The voice of a missing one on the phone.  Their tired smile when we see them.  The hug as you run to one another. 

In this time we, who call this resurrected place our home, have an incredible gift.  As our town is filled with those seeking gas, groceries, a place to charge their phones, we have the gift of becoming resurrection for others.

We are able to share hope, to share love, to open our doors, to share their burdens and walk with those in need.  We are able to share our abundant blessings with those in such great need.

We who have lost this place once before are reminded yet again that while we love this place it is we that are the church.  And while we love this building, it is the love that matters.  It is in allowing ourselves to be resurrected that we meet Jesus.
It is letting our hearts be broken, again and again, knowing that God calls us out of our comfort zones.

So as the recovery from the tornadoes ends, the rebuilding begins, pray with me about how we may share resurrection with those in need of God’s unconditional love.

Holy God, source of life, lover of souls, out of the depths we call to you; in the face of incomprehensible anguish and sorrow, we lift the cries of our distress and implore you to show mercy upon those who are suffering from the destruction of the tornadoes.  We pray for those who have died and for their loved ones who grieve asking you to hold them in the arms of your love; we pray for those who have been injured in body, mind or spirit and ask you to heal them; we pray for those who are homeless and wandering, for families torn asunder and ask you to shelter them. Strengthen the hands and hearts of those who assist in relief efforts and grant us all firm resolve to stand with our neighbors who are in need, to love them and to offer our generous support of them in this their time of trouble; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen

Addendum:  As I prepared to preach this sermon a parishioner gave me this picture found on their front lawn.  It is from Pleasant Grove, AL and Hal Henson is written on the back.   

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