Sermon for April 24, 2022 Second of Easter “It is good to ask questions”
There was a delightful cartoon posted to a clergy site I go to from time to time. The scene is some of the disciples sitting in a circle and one is ranting that Jesus is dead and that dead is dead. Then there is a pause..and the text continues…he’s standing behind me isn’t he? It is good to ask questions just ask Mattea Roach. Or in the opening of the Divinci Code Dr. Langdon says “a picture tells a thousand words but which words”, the right questions make all the difference.
Resurrection was and continues to be one of the great challenges to our fact driven culture. It does not make intuitive sense, it goes against all we know of the cycle of life, and yet we believe with all our heart and every fiber of our being that Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus lives again and forever. It is why it is called the mystery of faith and that mystery manages to sustain us in spite of its illogical nature.
Thomas, who was not present when Jesus appeared the first time and who some challenges believing the other disciples is our hero for today. He was brave enough to ask questions that lead to belief. And we continue to ask questions. And we have all sorts of questions: the biggest may be why does God allow bad things to happen? The challenge is that question can apply equally within and outside the church. Perhaps the first one I might ask is why did God allow the church to be taken over by politicians? This grassroots revolution Jesus started was about a new way of being and seeing, ourselves, others and creation. And yet from the time of Constantine Christianity has been a political tool to oppress. And it still happens and you need look in Plaster Rock or the American south to discover the ugly side of Christianity.
Why did the Crusades happen? Why have women been denied status? Why do we plunder creation? Why do wars happen? Why do children die? Why can’t I win the lottery? And on and on it goes as we struggle to fit God into our own image of who and what God should be.
It is good to ask questions and these are good ones but not the ones I am going to tackle today. Maybe someday with a coffee or tea.
The question I would like to explore is: is the resurrection of Jesus about my external life or my internal life? Jesus never said follow me and I will make you rich, popular, skinny, smart, successful and so on. And yet we have, over the centuries shifted the message to mean just that. What Jesus said was more likely to say is: follow me and you will continually give to the poor and needy, follow me and you will be wise stewards of creation, follow me and you will likely be last and least, follow me and you embrace meekness, kindness, mercy, a thirst for righteousness, pureness of heart, a peacemaker and one who is ridiculed.
The resurrection of Jesus is not to anoint rulers and rules that pit one against another, it was not about one gender or race or colour being better than the other. Resurrection is a wide open invitation to cultivate the inner landscape of your own life with the tools of justice, equality, genuineness and meekness. And from that place be a citizen in your community and world.
The kingdom, kin-dom, realm of God is not about conservative, NDP, liberal, republican, democrat, sultan or Czar, they are human constructs and will come to an end. The realm of God is beyond where we are now or as Jesus said ‘not of this world’ and it is to that realm that resurrection invites you. Our task is about tending our own inner selves so that can spill into our outer selves.
Maybe like the comic I referred to at the beginning says, before we start asking why gender or First Nations apology or climate change or my church is better than yours…we might be well served to pause and say…Jesus is standing behind me isn’t he?