Rev. George Miller
April 10, 2016
Cats n’ dogs; dogs n’ cats.
One of them points to how hopeful and exciting the world can be; one points to the reality of how mundane things really are.
One acts like we are the greatest being to ever live; one acts like “Ehhh, I’m not that impressed.”
Want to tell the difference between cats and dogs- go away on vacation, then come back.
Upon the simple sound of your car door closing and the sight of you in the hallway, a dog’s tale will wag, they’ll jump, bark, yip, and do the hiney-wiggle-dance.
Cats- “Oh, it’s you.”
Come back from being away, for a week and a dog will greet you with slobbery kisses.
Cats- maybe they’ll walk past you to look out the screen door, maybe they’ll go to the luggage to smell where you’ve been, or they’ll just go into the other room to catch up on their sleep.
Dogs act like you’ve been raised from the dead; cats act like you raised them from their nap.
In an odd way, the reactions of dogs and cats can help us get an understanding of the Resurrection accounts that occur in the Gospel of John.
As one theologian stated, instead of having the Gospel of John end with a big climax, we get more of a little whisper.
If the Gospel of John was a modern-day movie at the multiplex, we’d expect the ending to be jammed with special effects, swelling of orchestration, and a scene that makes us jump out of our seats.
But instead of God raising Jesus from the grave with the assistance of Batman, Wonder Woman and Louis Lane by his side, we get more or less of a small series of “a-has.”
In the Gospel of John, we have the Resurrected Christ surrounded by flowers and being confused for a gardener. We have him speaking words of Peace as he exhales upon the disciples. Today he’s hanging by the seashore cooking fish for breakfast.
Not very Marvel-Universe.
We may not realize it, but subconsciously many of us may picture the Resurrection as a big Hollywood block-buster, but the Gospels presents it more as an indie-art house film.
In other words, we tend to greet the Resurrection as a dog who’s excited to see Jesus has been raised from the dead.
But the Gospels tend to greet the Resurrection more like a cat- “Oh- its Jesus.”
Today’s account takes place just one week after the original Easter Sunday, when Christ appeared to the Disciples inside a locked room.
But today, some of the disciples are back in Galilee, fishing- as if nothing ever happened.
How can this be? After all they have seen, after all they have done, after all they have experienced? How can they go back to the mundane rituals of life?
But a week is a long time, is it not? A week is enough time for a lot to happen, or for nothing to transpire.
A week before or after a big event can be a whole other world, can it not?
I think this story speaks to a universal truth- no matter what happens, good or bad, life goes on.
We learn this truth when we encounter death or things like a chronic health diagnosis.
Someone dies, or you leave the doctor’s office, you feel as though your world has forever changed, you get home, only to realize:
-you still got to empty the trash
-you still got to call the exterminator to take care of the termites
-you still got to pay the electric bill.
Or perhaps you’ve experienced something great, like won an award. Well, the dog’s still got to be walked when you get home and you’ve still got to scoop the poop. Fido don’t care that you just when an Oscar.
Or you’re in front of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom while fireworks are illuminating the sky, but 12 hours later you’re in the office, standing in front of the Xerox Machine trying to get it to work.
Or you finally got to go on that relaxing cruise to the Bahamas in which you’ve dined on lobster, sipped mojitos, and danced to salsa all night long, but the next day you’re feeling bloated, tired, and stuck in rush-hour traffic for 3 hours trying to drive from Tampa to Sebring.
Yes- amazing moments happen: death, diagnosis, and despair; fun, frivolity, and favor, and still- there is work to do and life to attend to.
In other words, life can come at us hard like a guard-dog on steroids or lovingly like a labradoodle in a sweater, but most of our days, hours, and minutes, life can really seem like…a cat.
It is what it is, big yawn, big stretch, when’s dinner? Who’s gonna change the litter-box?
So…what does this mean for us, as Easter-people?
What does this mean for us as modern-day Americans who have worked ourselves up into a frenzy in which shopping for Christmas lasts 3 months and churches are now renting out fields to host massive Easter-Egg Hunts?
What does John 21:4-14 mean for a generation who Facebook everything, have 100-inch TVs and binge-watch everything?
It means that if we expect every encounter with the Living Lord to be like a scene from a big-budget super-hero movie, we’ll miss out on all the moments in which Christ is indeed present.
It means that when it comes to experiencing the Resurrected Christ, we may never know when he’ll appear or what he will do.
Or if the experience with the Living Lord will be with a “he” at all. Perhaps we will experience Christ through a “she”, or a “they” or an “it.”
If the Gospels give us any indication of what an experience with Christ will be like, it will be more akin to a grounding walk in the garden, or a gathering of friends, or on the shore of a beach.
If the Gospels give us any indication, an experience with the Resurrected Christ will happen during moments, in spaces, at times we cannot prepare for, we cannot plan, nor can we control.
Like Mary Magdalene in the Garden, like Peter on the boat, we may not even recognize the appearance of Christ at first.
It may simply begin by someone we don’t know calling us by name, or someone speaking words of peace, or someone inviting us to a meal.
It may simply be someone out in nature, someone indoors, or someone in the mundane reality of daily work and ho-hum living.
Today’s reading may not have the spectacle of a Hollywood movie or a well-presented Facebook post, but what it does is simply state: Jesus Christ is alive, and Christ has been resurrected by God.
Even if we don’t fully understand it, even if we can’t make sense of it all, we can be brave enough to believe, that somehow, someway, Jesus overcame and conquered the numb mindless sting of death.
To believe, and to proclaim that even as we continue life with its big bangs and “whittle” whispers, we know that the resurrected Christ is alive, about and all around us,
speaking, breathing, feeding, sharing, calling, teaching, restoring, forgiving, and grounding us in God.
The woes and the ways of the world may still be here, but God’s Kingdom is real and breaking in, and the presence of Christ is now and forever eternal.
Amen and amen.