Rev. Rosemary Webb
15th April 2018
Can You Cope With The Mysterious?

How often have you seen some animal or bird lying on the ground and wondered if it is alive? Do you cope well with the unexpected or would you prefer everything to be organised, everything to be in order. No matter how often we hear this gospel passage we can still feel the mystery of the events and wonder how the disciples really felt how we would have coped.

And if we suddenly found Jesus standing in front of us, here among us, how would we feel, what would we do. Would we rush and hug him, turn away, or would be so busy arguing among ourselves that it couldn’t possibly be him – miss our encounter?

In the reading from Acts, Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus when the going got hard is calling people to repent and turn to God. Peter had just healed the crippled beggar and had asked the crowds why they were amazed. He had then given them the promise that all people can find eternal life, but they have to remember that strength and truth only come through Jesus Christ. That all people have to be shown the love that Jesus has for them, that in Christ alone can people find the way to eternal life.

Peter fully appreciated that he could not fully comprehend the greatness of God’s love, he knew that there were no words that could convey that greatness. Which is probably why we can still find it hard to explain to those who do not know Jesus why we have faith. The mystery, power and glory is just too wonderful for us to explain.

Peter is showing that through his belief in Jesus he is able to reveal the healing power of the resurrection, and he truly hopes that his witness will be able to guide those who rejected Jesus, those who did nothing to stop the crucifixion, towards understanding Christ’s life-giving, healing power.

Peter had moved from being the man who three times denied knowing Jesus, to being transformed, and more than that to having been forgiven.

This transformation is shown by his compassionate response to those who may have crucified Jesus, he tells them that they acted through ignorance, and he could do this because he truly put his trust in God.

In the Gospel reading the disciples are filled with a powerful mixture of fear, joy and doubt. They thought they were seeing a ghost when Jesus appeared in their midst, which is hardly surprising – the last time they had seen him he was dead, and the door to the room they were in was locked. It took Jesus showing them his hands and his feet to convince them. So, can we be surprised that some people today can find the resurrection beyond their understanding. The disciples had the feet and hands to convince them – we only have our trust.

So, what does it mean for us to live as children of God, knowing, as we do, that we are made in God’s image. We know that we fall short, but we also know that Jesus understands our human frailty.

We live in a troubled world, there seems to be far more talk of war and aggression than there is of peace and love. As I write this sermon the prospect of armed conflict seemed a real possibility. We may fear it but we also hate seeing families being attacked by modern weapons that we do not understand which have a consequence we do not understand. But the one thing we do know is that we must pray, pray that all world leaders of whatever faith or no faith may come to see God’s light shining in the darkness may feel his love for all his children. I wonder what the reaction would be if someone was bold enough to tell those world leaders who call themselves Christian to meet in the UN and pray for peace together – would they dare do it? But having said that I now wonder why no Christian Leader called on these world leaders to meet in prayer before taking action.

We all need to work and pray for peace and reconciliation, and we can start by loving our neighbour, even that neighbour who we find it hard to understand, or that neighbour from the land we have never visited from a place we have never heard of, for they are all our neighbour.

Jesus shared the bread and wine with them at the last supper, and then again when he wanted to prove to the disciples that it was him in their presence. As we share the bread and wine in this Eucharist let us never forget that it is the sign of Christ’s presence with us today, this presence which will never leave us, this sign of his never-ending love for us.

Luke 24: 36b-48