I have seen the Lord, by Pastor Noel

April 21, 2019    Easter Day, C

 

     I have seen the Lord.

     I have seen the Lord on the Cross.

     It was not God who put him there, it was fearful, angry people.

     Jesus came to bring life, not death.

     His death was not God’s purpose, and God was able to use this monstrous event to bring new life, peace, and hope.

     Jesus knew that the new life he was offering was not welcome by the authorities.

     He knew that showing people God’s ways went against the ways of the culture. It still does.

     He knew that he would pay the price of his faithfulness to the Father, and he did.

     The price was his death on the Cross.

     I have seen the Lord on the Cross in the faces and lives of those who fall victim to fearful, angry people. Those on whom we heap shame because they are different, other.

     I have seen the Lord on the Cross in all the war-torn places on the earth, and in all those who suffer because fear and anger overcome our need to live together in peace.

     The peace only God offers us.

    I remember all those we read about in the Scriptures who lived in shame, who lived as outcasts, thought unworthy to be part of the community.

     I can see the Lord on the Cross in them, and then the new life and restoration that Jesus gave them.

     Jesus reached out and touched those thought “untouchable,” healed and loved everyone who came to him.

     To Jesus, and to God the Father, there is no one who is an outsider. All are welcome, healed, forgiven, loved, included.

      The Cross was yesterday. Now it is the day of the Resurrection, Easter! We can say our alleluias and sing the glorious, joyful hymns. Christ is risen!

     Christ is risen indeed. And each time we side with fear and anger, each time we exclude or shame, each time we use violence to get our way, we put Jesus back up on the Cross and we stand with those who cried out, “crucify him!”

     I have seen the Lord.

     I have seen the risen Lord, alive and well in the faces and lives of those who know new life and hope because of him.

     New life and hope come not as we look toward heaven and life after death, but as we are transformed by God’s love and know the risen Lord here, now, today.

     New life and hope come as each of us faces the fear and anger in us, and open ourselves to God’s healing power.

     New life and hope come, as they did to a couple I know who couldn’t deal with the immigrants in our community. They left the church so they wouldn’t have to deal with them, wouldn’t have to worship with “those people.”

     Then they began to work with “those people,” and came to know and respect them. Suddenly it wasn’t “them” and “us” but just “us”— all working together. One. One in Christ.

     That is the power of the risen Lord.

     The power of the risen Lord brings us new life, makes us born from above, born anew.

     This wonderful gift of life is not just for us alone, not for us to keep as a private treasure.

     The gift of new life in the risen Lord is ours only when we give it away.

     We have all seen the risen Lord in the midst of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and here in our community and families.

     I have seen the risen Lord, and the gift of new life being given to rebuild Notre Dame, and, finally, the black churches burned in Louisiana.

     Even more, I have seen the risen Lord as we reach out and find homes for the homeless. As we fight against guns and drugs that are killing so many of us every day.

     I have seen the risen Lord in the lives of those who have found sobriety and peace.

     Whenever and however we respond to the needs of our neighbors—and our neighbors live all over the world—when we respond to needs with whatever help we can give, we are giving them the risen Lord.

     I have seen the risen Lord when we let down our defenses and begin to trust others and let others trust us. This is transformation, new life in the Lord.

     I have seen the risen Lord in people who let go of whatever has kept them from being open and trusting. People who start returning a smile and responding to “good morning.”

     I have seen the risen Lord open up lives that had been closed and dark. The light of the risen Lord brings all the power of God to them and then through them.

     My daughter once wandered through a church and came running to tell me that she had seen Jesus! Behind the altar was a stone carving of our Lord. Sadly, that is the way many of us see and relate to Jesus.

     I have seen the risen Lord.

     May we see the risen Lord in ourselves and in each other. Not carved in cold stone but alive and sharing the joy and wonder, love, forgiveness, and peace of this glorious day.

     May the world see the risen Lord in us.

 

The Rev. Noel Bailey

The Reverend Noel Bailey was born in Providence, is now back in RI for the 4th time, and hopes that this stay is longer than some of the others. She was ordained Priest at St. Michael's, Bristol, in May 1988, More details