MAY 24, 2020
I find myself asking that a lot these days – for so long I was fairly sure about what my life was all about – the role I was to play day to day. Sometimes those roles stood alone, sometimes they intersected – but always I had some idea as to what I was to be and to do: child of God, daughter, student, young professional, wife, mother, Christ follower, seminarian, pastor, retired pastor, teacher, blogger – but then the pandemic happened – now what? How am I to do life, how am I to be IN life? Now what?
Wonder if any of you have these same thoughts?
It’s an anxious time isn’t it? So much information coming at us from some many different directions.
So many expert opinions about how we are to be and to do life
I am a news junkie which means I read and listen to all sides of the every issue so I don’t get sucked into political agendas. I work to discern truth in the midst of leadership hyperbole.
But even with all of this intentionality, sometimes, I have suspicions about what I hear and have a hard time trusting ‘facts’ as presented. I mean after all, how can facts contradict each other and still be facts? How are we to be – what are we to do – in the midst of this factual chaos?
When the life we have been so sure of is suddenly upended…now what?
I think that the disciples must have felt much this same way that first Ascension so long ago….
Over the past several weeks of Eastertide, we have thought about those disciples as they grappled with post resurrection life.
They had each played several roles over the course of their lives: sons and daughters, fishermen, tax collectors, adulteresses, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers – all forgiven and renewed men and women. However, those defined life roles were redefined as they followed the Rabbi and Miracle Worker, Jesus of Nazareth.
Because of their time with Jesus, they experienced healing and wholeness; saw blind and lame beggars now able to see and walk, no longer needing to beg; the hungry, outcast and homeless were fed, included and housed. Their lives were awakened to roles they never thought possible.
Yet, with Jesus’ crucifixion, their lives were again overturned as they became fugitives hiding away in fear for their own lives. So now what?
WAIT FOR IT!
In just three short days, their fear would turn to joy through the incomprehensible news of the empty tomb – and presence the risen Lord!
These appearances continued for 40 days – once the risen Lord appeared to 500 at one time! (1 Corinthians 15:6) – as the risen Lord walked among them reminding them of His teachings.
Was THIS to be their new normal? After all, it takes 40 to change a habit.
But then, Christ ascended into heaven – it seemed the followers were left alone…..now what? What were they to be – what were they to do? Christ said that He would not leave them orphaned – but it sure didn’t seem He was keeping His word!
Before He ascended, Christ told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait (Luke 24:49b) for the coming of the One Who would empower and mentor them to go into the world as new people. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the followers would once again claim new roles as they would begin teaching others a way of life – the Christ life. The life that is:
- the way of love and reconciliation with God and each other
- the way of forgiveness to all in the name of Jesus
- the way of humility by seeking forgiveness from others all in the name of Jesus
- the way of affirmation and inclusion of all in the love of Christ
- the way of peace in which competition and violence are no longer acceptable because in the world God intends for us – there are no winners or losers – God alone wins and violence and death are defeated.
But this is nuts! How on earth were a bunch of misfits, manual laborers, outcasts, and marginally educated individuals supposed to do these things?
On their own there was no way humanly possible, but as Christ Himself stated about salvation and beginning again: “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26).
I don’t know about you, but I would have found – and do find – such possibilities both terrifying and exciting; if I had been one of those first disciples I would have needed time to think it through.
Perhaps that was what Christ was doing – giving the disciples time.
- Time to think
- Time to pray
- Time to come to grips with their powerlessness apart from Christ.
- Time to come to a place of receptivity and trust that God would still be among them in a new way providing the power that they would need to live into God’s plan
So they waited…..not knowing how long the wait would be…we will talk about that next week.
But for now, what does all this mean for us?
For we, too, are waiting –
- waiting to see what kind of world we will be re-entering when the time comes
- waiting to see when the time is right for us to re-enter
- waiting to understand what role we will in this world of a new normal
When we re-enter the world, will we just pick up where we left off – go back to the way things were as competitors, winners and losers in the game of life, condemning and marginalizing all those we disagree with?
Or will we re-enter in a new way?
What if we spent whatever time remains in this time of relative solitude and waiting to consider the world as it has been and our role in it?
What if we spent this time of waiting reflecting on who and Whose we are and prepare ourselves to receive the power and truth that are found in Christ in a whole new way – God’s way – so that the Lord can use us more powerfully than ever before!
Being a Christ follower means more than reading scriptures, more than attending worship, more than praying, more than serving, more than giving – it means allowing all those means of grace to transform us so completely that the Christ life becomes our life without us having to think about it. The Apostle Paul calls that dying to self and living for Christ. (Galatians 2:19-20) So much so, that when we are in the world others see more of Christ and less of us!
But we can’t make this change alone – we have a Mentor – Who comes, Who empowers, Who enlightens – if we wait and prepare for all God has planned at the end of this time of solitude – wait and prepare not for things to go back the way they were in January – but to embrace a new normal – a holy normal – God’s normal! And to God be the glory! AMEN.
‘see you’ next week.