April 3, 2016 — Rev. Lamar Robinson
The Reader’s Digest periodically carries an article in its monthly magazine with the title of “Ten things your doctor, lawyer, accountant, whoever won’t tell you.” These are things you really don’t want to know, but perhaps you should. In the March issue it was “Things your sleep doctor won’t tell you.”
Well, today I am going to inform you of one thing your minister won’t tell you. The truth is, most ministers (and I was among them) have a short list of Sundays they really don’t particularly enjoy. Such as, Fourth of July Sunday (the congregation is always up and down, that is, up in the mountains or down on the beach), Labor Day Sunday (same thing), the Sunday after Christmas, and perhaps most of all, the dreaded Sunday after Easter!
Why then? First of all, he or she is usually exhausted and still in recovery. And (let’s face it) Easter is a hard act to follow, and worship attendance (after that full house on Easter) is down, down, down in the cellar!
However, my happy observation has been that Union Church once more is different, and that we usually don’t fall into that pattern. So, let’s give ourselves a small pat on the back (or in the interest of humility,) I will do it for you.
Actually, the Sunday following Easter should be a great day of continuing celebration. And that’s the idea for today!
We have experienced a wonderful Lent. It came this year in what was for us was a time of transition. Change is never easy, always a bit uncertain, but Lent was a time of reassurance, and affirmation. Last Sunday we celebrated Resurrection, and the Risen Christ, and the joyful path forward for Union Church and for us all.
Enough introduction! So, what reflection do we bring on this Sunday after Easter?
For me (and I believe for most of you) Resurrection is not merely something that happened in Palestine about 2,000 years ago. It is a dimension of our continuing life experience. And Christ is not merely a figure of the distant past, a starting point in the history of our faith. Christ is our contemporary, in a deeply mysterious but powerfully real way, alive in us and in our world.
So, I say to you and I say to me, today, as the first disciples said to each other two thousand years ago, that Resurrection is real, that Christ is risen, and that we meet him again and again upon our journey through life.
Each of us sees and experiences the living Christ in his or her own way, in our own experience. Even as in the New Testament records he appeared at different times, at different places, in different ways, to different people, so it is for us.
Mary Magdalene met him in the garden; the disciples saw him in an upper room and in the breaking of bread on the Emmaus Road, and at breakfast by the Galilean seashore.
The apostle Paul found him on the way to Damascus.
St. Frances saw him as a beggar on the road.
Luther met him during a thunderstorm in Germany.
Handel met him in his study, as he worked days without stopping in composing “Messiah”.
Martin Luther King saw him in the victims of bitter racism and prejudice in America.
Mother Theresa saw him in the sick, suffering, weary people of India.
Pope Francis sees him in the poor, suffering, downtrodden people of the world.
And so it goes that each one meets and experiences the Living Christ as he meets us.
The late Albert Schweitzer’s closing statement in his book, “The Quest of the Historical Jesus”, seems appropriate:
“He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, he came to those who knew him not. He speaks to us the same word: “Follow thou me”. And he sets us to the task which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey him, whether they be wise or simple, he will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in his fellowship and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who he is”.
And what of us? What of us?
You have seen him in the smiles of new parents, looking down upon the infant child, God’s gift for this family to feed, clothe, protect, teach, and love.
You have seen him in the eager, expectant eyes of youth, exploring, dreaming, seeking fulfillment from life, and searching for it through faith and love.
You have seen him in the face of those moving toward the completion of life’s journey, letting be what will be.
You have seen him on the evening news, in the anguish of the victims of terrorism and hate, and in the desperation of refuges seeking a better life for themselves and their children.
You have seen him in the faces of those who are served here in Biddeford and beyond through our various forms of mission outreach.
And – you have seen him in those you most deeply love, your family, your friends, those whose lives are most entwined with your life, and your happiness, and your deep sense of meaning.
We could go on – but we will not. It is enough. On this Sunday after Easter – we simply say “thank you.” “Thank you” to the God who made us and cares for us all -–the God of Resurrection, the Christ of continuing presence, the mystery of eternal Love. Amen and amen!