Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Sunday, April 14, 2024

YEAR B 2024 easter 3

Easter 3, 2024
Acts 3:12-19
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24:36b-48
Psalm 4

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.”
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Okay, first thing we need to do today is look at the epistle reading from First John.  You’ll recall last week I pointed out the challenge of him saying he was writing these words so that you may not sin, while at the same time saying “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.”

And today we heard, “No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.”  John says we abide in Jesus; John also says no one who sins abides in him; John also says, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.  I’m as comfortable as the next priest with holding contradictions when it comes to our faith life.  But this section of First John the past two weeks makes no sense to me.  Point being, if you find it confusing, you are not alone.  I am right there with you.

Moving on.  “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.”  This is a key part of the gospel reading we just heard.  While in their joy, they were disbelieving and still wondering.  Now first we need the context for this reading, because I'm afraid we got dropped off in the middle of a story.  In Luke’s gospel, we go from the empty tomb to the Road to Emmaus.   That’s when Jesus appears to the disciples, but they don’t recognize him as they walk together on the road.  It is only after they sit down to eat together that something changes:  “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.”

Right after that, those disciples get up and rush back to Jerusalem, where they find the 11 disciples gathered in a room.  “Then they told what had happened on the road and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”  This Road to Emmaus story is one of my favorite stories in all of scripture because of that very line: He had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.  Ahem.  [points to Altar]  Anyway, while they were recounting this amazing story to the disciples, that’s the moment when Jesus shows up in the room in this morning’s reading.  And “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.”

But let’s back up again, to the empty tomb.  When the women get to the tomb, the stone is rolled away, and two men in dazzling white clothes appear beside them.  And they say, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to the hands of sinners and be crucified and on the third day rise again.”  Remember how he told you.  And then the women remember, and they run to tell the disciples.  

And as Jesus is walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he says to them, “how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”  Remember how he told you?  Remember what the prophets said?  He’s been telling them this would happen.  Over and over he’s been telling them.  They knew it was going to happen, and yet, while in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.

This past Monday, April 8th we had an eclipse around here.  Perhaps you heard about it.  Hopefully you were able to see it, because it was amazing!  We’d been hearing it was going to happen for months.  For years in fact.  Here comes the eclipse.  Here’s how it happens.  Here’s how big the sun is relative to the moon.  Here’s what will be amazing about it.  Here are some tricks you can do with a colander, or by wearing red and green.  We knew all about it, we knew precisely when it would happen, as it had been foretold by the . . . scientists.  And yet . . .

While in out joy we were disbelieving and still wondering.  Everyone I’ve talked to who experienced the full eclipse has said they knew it would be awesome, but they didn’t know it would be that awesome!  We knew it would happen, we believed it would take place, but while in our joy we were disbelieving and still wondering.  We all understand the science, but it is still somehow an impenetrable mystery.

Jesus told them over and over that he would be handed over to people who would kill him, and then rise from the grave on the third day.  They heard him say it, many times.  And then when he shows up, well . . . While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.  But maybe after Monday’s eclipse I kind of understand them a little more.  

Because the eclipse was awesome and scary, and beautiful and terrifying, and understandable and mysterious, and light and dark, and every other contradiction you can think of.  Joy, disbelief, wonder.  While in their joy the disciples were disbelieving and still wondering.  

And Jesus.  Still.  Shows.  Up.  

You notice that Jesus did not require their understanding to show up?  He didn’t need their belief, or their faith, or their personal commitment, or even their memory of the words he had already told them.  Just like the first step in experiencing the eclipse is for it to happen, so the first step in a life of faith in the risen Lord is for him to show up.

You and I have doubts, in the midst of our joy.  And Jesus still shows up.  You and I have trouble believing that a person can actually rise from the dead and eat a piece of fish.  And Jesus still shows up.  You and I do not fully understand what happens with the bread and wine on that Altar.  And Jesus still shows up.  While we are in our joy, we are disbelieving and still wondering.  And Jesus still shows up.

Listen again to the collect for this day:
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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