Be Free! Do it!
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For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/30/2017 The 3rd Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 24:19-35.
Today, I intend to set believers free. I intend to let you just throw off the blinders, the water wings, and the awkward feeling and just be free to honor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Doesn’t that sound great!?
As I was preparing for thissermon, two things happened to illustrate the very point of today’s Gospel. I love when the Lord provides. The first was that in the interpretation of Luke 24:30-31, when Jesus was at the table with these two disciples coming from Jerusalem on the first Easter, he is said to have “taken the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them.” Now, the commentary that I was reading was walking along saying how everything in this passage lined up with scripture, with angel appearances, etc. Yet, when it came to admitting that the language of take, bless, break, and give are distinctly Eucharistic language, the commentator said, “It is not necessary to think this is an illusion to the Eucharist.” To that I just started laughing—out loud.
Why not? We believe that Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread of the Eucharist. For those of us who have a high sense of the Sacraments, this is exactly what happens in the Eucharist, and if it doesn’t then why bother? It is just as ridiculous as when those on the highly Sacramental side do not believe that 3,000 were really converted in one day in response to Peter’s preaching, or that God speaks through ecstatic speech, or that people are healed by invoking the Lord and laying of hands.
The second thing that happened is that several people I know had encounters with angels and/or visions they reported to me this past week. Every single one of them acted like it was unusual. They “excuse talked” the Gospel to accommodate the restrictions that the Enlightenment puts on us. The “age of reason” insists that anything supernatural is a figment of our imagination for the very purpose of putting humanity in the center of everything. If everything is limited to our ability to know through our five senses, then it eliminates what we all know happens to us over and over again: the Lord appears to us in many ways.
Look, our perspective is all messed up. We believe in the abilities of the God of the universe. Many of us have had ecstatic experiences of God. Many of us have seen God do things that are just amazing and we then, say, “Wow. How did that happen?”
Just stop! It you don’t believe that God can do things that are outside the accepted realm because he is somehow captive to the rules of physics, then your god is too small. Yet, you are in company with legions of Christians.
Look at Cleopas and his companion as they were walking back to Emmaus from Jerusalem on Easter. They were sad and downcast because it had been three days since Jesus was dead. No irony lost on us who have been celebrating the GREAT THREE DAYS for millennia. When Jesus appears to them, they are glum and cannot recognize him because their mindset was set to not recognize him. They recounted to Jesus how all these miserable things happened to Jesus and in the end, the one they thought would be their Messiah was dead.
Then, Jesus did something amazing. He showed them the Scriptures of the Old Testament that said that the Messiah would suffer. He would die. He would be raised on the third day. Friends, discouraging events are part and parcel of the Christian life. It is only in light of the Crucifixion of our Lord that they make sense. Psalm 34:19 says it best, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
The reason? The world is at war with God. Ever since the Garden of Eden when we decided that we knew better, we have been at war to prove that we know better than God. We are going to force God to see, even if we have to kill his messengers. We will even kill his son if his Son is sent as the messenger.
Yet, over and over, we Christians act like following the Lord is about getting whatever Joel Osteen is promising us. That is NOT what the scriptures say. What the Lord promises is companionship in this battle. We, who walk with him every day, we know who he is. We know how he talks to us. We know how he comes to us in the breaking of the bread, just like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. He speaks to us through people. He speaks to us through Scripture. He comes to us in prayer.
If we know he sends us to battle, why do we anticipate it is going to be easy? If we know he was killed on the cross, why do we assume that we are going to be spared anything differently in such an important work we have to do? If we know that he comes to us in these ways, why do we not expect it? If we know that he does all these things, then why don’t we just openly talk like it to one another? Be free to talk in God speak. Let your hair down and be a Jesus freak. Don’t excuse yourself in front of someone who needs to know that there is a life lived with God they have never experienced. Just say “as a Christian, I believe God is active in my life.” Let them deal with it.
Sure, there are Christian communities where open talk about the Lord coming to us in visions and answering prayers is culturally acceptable. We should be like them. Sure, there are Christian communities where the Eucharist is an encounter with the living God. We should be like them. Sure, there are Christian communities where being in relationship with Jesus means we answer the calling of God to go out and speak, be, and do the Word of God. We MUST be like them.
Be free to talk and act like God is real, because he is. Be free to talk and act like God heals, because he does. Be free to talk and act like the Lord of the Universe just walked into your life and told you what you should do, because he does. Our lives could be worry free, dynamic, and like living the pages of the Bible, if we just opened our eyes. It is all a biblical battle. It is all a biblical life.
If you think your life is too insignificant for God to work through you, then you have forgotten about the youngest shepherd in the family of shepherds and the 12 and half year old maiden who carried the Christ child. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are EXACTLY the kind of person who is being sent to spread his Gospel.
To the commentator who thinks it is impossible for Jesus to be in the bread and the cup of wine because you cannot see him, then you need to get your eyes checked. You are not looking with the eyes of faith I know you have.
To the people who have come to me amazed that the Lord has appeared to them and given them a mission, read your Bibles. Believe it. Pray it. Do it.
To the rest of us, we can be free to talk about it openly in front of one another, because he comes to us, walks with us, speaks to us through the Scriptures, and makes himself known to us in the breaking of the Bread. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.