Sermon for April 26, 2020 Third of Easter “The Gift of Knowing”
Like many worship leaders in the Maritimes and across the country we are trying to understand, pray for and support the victims and affected communities in Nova Scotia after last weeks tragic events. To add this layer of terror to the disruption of COVID-19 puts us in a delicate and tender place. One that will require the combined wisdom and patience of all. Those most deeply affected and all in Nova Scotia will be held in tender prayer in the times to come. Our Christ Candle is lit… I now light a candle in solidarity and prayer for our neighbours in Nova Scotia.
Over the years, I have come to realize that scripture is a place of understanding and insight for what is happening in the world, community and personal life. I am aware of the dangers of taking a document that at its newest is 2000 years old and superimposing that on the 21st century. Society, context and life are vastly different now from two or seven thousand years ago. There are however lessons and teachings that can aid our understanding of ourselves and the nature of God and Jesus.
In the writings and reflections of Richard Rohr he points in this direction from a time when he was going through surgery. “During that time, it was not the indirectness that hit me in this passage, but the directness! My best spiritual knowing almost always occurs after the fact, in the remembering—not seen “until God has passed by.” I realized that in the moments of diagnosis, doctor’s warnings, waiting, delays, and the surgery itself, I was as fragile, scared, and insecure as anybody would be. If I could stay with the full narrative all the way into and through, only afterward could I invariably see, trust, and enjoy the wonderful works of God.”
When we first hear news, we think it will not happen to us, then it does affect us and our family and community and it is not until we have walked the fragile walk of being vulnerable and scared that we begin to witness God’s wonder, of the unfolding of creation. The world is still in the grips of a pandemic and there is no clear view of an ending. Speculation is certainly the stuff of the virtual water cooler chat or virtual Tim’s café chat but in the end, it is conjecture, we do not know. So, we are left with being in the present moment with its challenges, frustrations and opportunities. We may wonder where God is in all this but ancient and new wisdom reminds us that it is not until we have walked through the valley and look back, that it then starts to make sense and we can see the nudging and love of God with clarity.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were astounded at the teachings of the stranger they met along the way. For seven miles, they listened to history being revealed in the present context. It was sacred obligation to offer hospitality to this stranger and I expect they wanted to hear more. At supper, the stranger broke bread and shared it with all. In that single moment, their eyes were opened and they recognized the risen Lord. In the instant of recognition, Jesus disappeared from sight and they were utterly amazed. Were not our hearts burning as he spoke along the road they exclaimed…and it all made sense.
After the experience they could see clearly the hand and working of God and they were filled with wonder. If they had tried to figure it out sooner, if they had grown weary of the journey or the speaking along the way the ending would be very different.
Our situation is in many ways similar. We know there are lessons to be learned, that we are being prepared for something new, we have a growing awareness that live is not ‘going back to normal’ and we are in the midst of transformation. We are however required to finish the journey. It is only then that the truths that we can now see dimly, will be revealed. It is at that point we can be in awe of the glory of God…again.
In my prayer and reflection time these days the image of the encounter of God and Moses keeps appearing. The scene where Moses wants to see God. God says certainly but you cannot see my face only my back. As God passes, Moses eyes are covered, and only when God passes can he see. I am reminded, gently chastised and grateful that God is always ahead of us leading the way.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.