We rolled the Word for All Ages, the scriptures and the sermon into one today, doing `church in the round’ reflection on the gospel. We started with some brain-teasers. I asked Jim to make a fist, and asked if anyone could get him to open his fist in 30 seconds. (I had imagined a child doing this, but our usual children were at home with daddy today). Someone tried to pry his hand open, then another come forward to shake his hand. Then someone asked him to please open his hand. He did. The first response though was to pry it open. (Sometimes it is as hard to open our minds and hearts as it is to open a fist.)
A few more brain teasers…
How can you hold an egg above a concrete floor and drop it four feet without breaking it? (it’s a raw egg) Hold the egg five feet above the floor and let it go. It won’t break until after it falls the first four feet.
You are sitting at a keyboard. How can you spell DEFLATE by only hitting three keys? You’re sitting at a piano keyboard, so press D, Eflat, E.
These brain-teasers show that our minds are used to thinking in certain ways about things – how might we view the world and possibilities if we think in different way.
Luke 24:36b-49 is another post-resurrection appearance coming just after the Emmaus road story. We read the passage from three difference versions – NRSV, New English Version and The Message, and people had opportunity to share their insights, ask questions, note the differences in wording etc. The conversation focused mostly around how the disciples may have experienced Jesus in different ways, depending on their need.
Jesus appears in Jerusalem `in the flesh/but through closed doors.’ Another way to see this is that our faith must be embodied, not just in our heads and in our prayers, but in our actions as we live out what it is to be disciples of Jesus in our community today.
People also spoke of personal experiences of themselves or others close to them sensing the presence of someone they experienced as Jesus.
I told the story of being in ministry in Merritt, when I was asked to preside at the family funeral for three children murdered by their father. I was also asked NOT to tell anyone else, as the family did not want it to turn into a media circus. Although I was honoured to walk with this family in their terrible grief, I felt the burden of not being able to share the load with others. I prayed for help. “God, I can’t carry this alone,” I prayed, “I need you to send me help.” Suddenly I felt this beautiful warmth surround my shoulders, a loving multitude leaning in and the assurance – “We are here with you, you won’t be carrying this alone.”
I can’t say that I identified anyone specifically, but the phrase “great cloud of witnesses’ came to me, and I felt blessed and accompanied, knowing these spirit beings were a God-given gift.