Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Presence of JOY

Easter 2
April 15, 2012
Fr. Philip Eberhart

The Presence of Joy!

Have you ever had the experience of knowing facts but not knowing the full ramification of them … until … that moment when the light comes on! The truth dawns and suddenly, there is this presence – this fullness – of joy and rejoicing?

Can you put yourselves in the place of the disciples, during those three days?

THEN...

Three years of your life invested in the hope of the Messiah.
Three years of seeing the miraculous work of this Jesus, from Nazareth.
Three years of faith rising, every time something happened!

Jesus and Peter … all the history… his confession and the rebuke
The great catch in Galilee, the day at Peter’s house,
The healing of the man let down through the roof
The healing of his mother in law
That night on the lake – walking out there with Jesus…

His brother, Andrew and Philip – the feeding in Galilee – so many… we thought ---

James and John, the sons of Zebedee – sons of thunder he called them – their mom
So bold to ask for her sons places of honor.

All the discussions – arguments really, about who was going to sit where when Jesus… well – you know.

Now all that is just swept away.
The King and the Kingdom… swept away.
The hope and the glory… swept away.
The things he did and said … all swept away… by horrible crucifixion and death.
By shouts from the crowd, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!

My God … did they not understand WHO this man is … … … was?
Were we wrong? Apparently!

Now nothing remains.
We are in mortal danger, just because we come from Galilee.

Fear! Dread for our lives.
Mixed with the cup of grief and loss.

Can you get that low in your imagining of that day and those nights after the death of Jesus?

Tears and grief … a hundred plus people sitting in dank, dark, silence … like captives
in a prison cell – a sniff here and there from the women who were there – a cough heard that sounded like a rifle shot in an echo chamber.

Weeping over what has been lost – over Who has been lost.
Or at least WHO we thought He was.

All that He said to us – all the promise and hope, all the joy – swept away.

Then – morning

A report just after sunrise
WHAT? The body of Jesus is gone! But how?

Oh, its just the women. Probably hysteria or they went to the wrong tomb.

NO! Peter and John went too and the body of Jesus is gone … and the weirdest thing?
His wrappings were there! And John said, that his head bandage was folded.
Taken off and folded.

Some of the women say they saw angels and some saw Jesus Himself – alive and walking and talking to them. And He’s different … somehow … some didn’t recognize him at first!

Is it possible? O God, could it really be possible?

He raised others from the grave… but this?

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All day there is this tension – between unhoped hope and deepest despair.

Jesus said things like this himself – in fact, the charge that finally led to his death was, “He said, ‘Destroy this temple, and I’ll raise it up in three days.’ “ Could it be?

Several times in fact, he said this … something about rising… but we didn’t know.

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And then this evening, the two from Emmaus, came back and told us of the ‘stranger’ who walked with them all the way and talked and taught them about the old sayings regarding the messiah, suffering and …

And then … at supper together … he broke bread, and they saw Him for who he was,
And he disappeared!


NOW...
So here we are, in the Upper Room, this morning – let’s say this evening…

It’s been a wild ride of emotion for the past three or four days – horror really.
But now…

And Suddenly, Jesus is standing in the room.

Let’s reread that first paragraph.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (St. John 20)

PEACE! We were so far from that!!
JESUS! We saw the wounds – His hands and side, he still bore them – the scars and the stripes. The places where the thorns, well, you know.
OH GOD! It’s really Him! All they’ve said today - it’s all true! IT’S ALL TRUE !!!!

PEACE and JOY!
How do you contain this? Overwhelming JOY…. Like a dam burst inside of me!!

Once again I am swept away!
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Peter would later refer to this time as being filled with “joy inexpressible and full of glory”
(1 Peter 1:8)

In fact, it is almost as if Peter is reminiscing about this passage in John and the example of Thomas when he wrote his letter:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

Friends, I don’t really have a category to put this kind of joy into. We have joy at a birth of a baby or of an offer for a new job. We have joy at watching Tim Tebow pull another one out of the hat! Or Todd Helton, hit another walk off home run, winning the game.

But how can these things compare? I don’t have any categories for this kind of joy.

And it’s in both of our readings from John the Apostle.

In his letter he wrote:

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Friends, John writes…

All that we’ve experienced of Jesus and his life… we pass on to you … so we can be in KOINONIA – in Fellowship and so that our JOY may be complete.

My prayer for you this week is that the JOY dawns.

The joy of realizing IT’S ALL TRUE.
The joy of knowing IT WAS ALL FOR ME.
The joy of seeing JESUS, in all His humble splendor – the Crucified and Risen KING

To hear Him say to you, PEACE Be With You.
And to rejoice with the disciple in that Upper Room when they encountered

The Presence of Joy Itself … Jesus Risen and Alive in ME.

Let us pray.

Dear Jesus,

Come this day among us here – reveal yourself to us and cause us to be swept into that river of “joy inexpressible and full of glory”. Stand among us this morning, risen and living your life in our midst. Come, Holy Spirit, reveal the Risen Son to us this day as we walk in the light of His life and love. Give us communion with your Son, O God and with His Spirit, as we take His body and blood – let His life enliven us to truly live His risen life with one another and to be His Body, reaching out to the world in His Name.

For the sake of His Kingdom and for the Fame of His Name.

Amen.

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