Wanderings for May 21, 2009
3 years. For three years they followed Jesus. They let down their nets. They traveled from town to town. They ate in homes, worshipped on mountain tops, witnessed miracles on land and on sea. And in a whirl-wind week they went with him as Jesus entered the city, and they dispersed when he was arrested, humiliated and killed.
That should have been the end of the story right there. But it wasn't. Because just a few days later they got word: Christ has risen. It came from Mary M and the other ladies who first visited the tomb. It came from Cleopas and his companion (wife?) who dined with Christ in Emmaus. It came from inside the locked room and the open sea shore.
Death had not won, the powers that be did not prevail. Look at what God has done!
This Thursday, we are having a special service to bless everyone as they enjoy Memorial Day (remember, we are closed this Sunday). This Scripture for this Thursday night is taken from Acts 1:1-11. Luke, who is the author of Acts, has added something extra to the story. He has the resurrected Christ hanging out with the disciples for 40 days, talking to them about the Kingdom of God. He encourages them not to leave until they have received the promises of God.
I like to think in a way these 40 days are a buffer. They have been through so much, seen so much. The disciples thought they had lost Jesus once, but he came back. And for 40 days they get to chill and hang out in the city. Chilling and hanging out is good for the soul and the body, but it doesn't get the job done, and can lead to lack of care and wonder, so after 40 days, Jesus says goodbye to the disciples. He says they'll receive the power of the Spirit and they will be his witnesses to "the end of the earth". Jesus is then lifted up into heavens.
What do you make of this story? Does it speak to anything that is going on in your life? For me, it recalls something I read from Henry Nouwen in "The Living Reminder" about the power of absence. That being absent from another allows our memory to see each other in a new way. We see this in John 16:7 and 13 when Jesus reveals that only in memory will real intimacy with him be possible. And here in Acts we see that it is only when Jesus is gone that the Spirit reveals itself to the disciples. According to Nouwen, the great mystery of divine revelation is that God entered into intimacy with us not only by Christ's arrival, but also in Christ's departure.
Another way of thinking about things is like this: the disciples didn't truly become the disciples until Jesus was gone, and it wasn't until Jesus ascended into heaven that the Good News of Jesus traveled to the ends of the earth.
How are the ways you've been influence by people in their absence? And who are people you know you've influenced even after you've been long gone?
May you have a wonderful week and Memorial Day, and I hope to see most of you Thursday night at 7 p.m,. for our special service.
Blessings, Pastor G
* if you want to be e-mailed the weekly Wanderings , contact Pastor George at firstname.lastname@example.org