Standing with Greatness
Luke 24:36 -48 Acts 3: 12-19 The Rev Dr. George Hermanson
One of the issues we face as individuals and as groups is to locate ourselves and devise ways to move to unknown locations. We have several methods of doing this. We create plans. We have people who have shown us the way to go. We have persons we want to follow.
Each has its power and also limitations. When I first came here for a meeting I check my google map. It gave me a route but then I noticed the bridge on Earl Armstrong was not there so no direct route from Barrhaven. It gave many ways of getting here but not one that worked the best. As good as GPS maps are, they are only maps. Maps are not the territory they represent. We are at the mercy of our maps.
Then we have people in our experience who have guided us. We love heroes. There are many tv shows and magazines that sell us heroes, some with clay feet. I remember being in a Blues bar and in walked Dan Ackroyd. Heads turned. A buzz went through the crowd. Being a Canadian bar meant nobody rushed up to touch him. However, people continually made a lot of trips by where he was standing. It became a moment and conversation with those we were with. The joke became, “ Remember when we where at the bar with Dan Ackroyd.” Some of the dust of his fame drifted over us.
Our society uses heroes to motivate people. Be like, you fill in the blank, we tell our children.
In our materialist world there is an active narrative of heroes who were ceos of successful companies and they were those who were to guide our economic world. Yet those heroes turned out to cause the problems we now face economically. Our trust is broken and that happens when our heroes turn out to have clay feet.
We are back to the issue of what is it that will sustain us? What will address the deeply felt fear we have about the future? To what and to whom will we turn?
To often we hear what will be will be. No, Luke suggests, it is the opposite of what will be, will be. What will be is yet to be determined? It means history is being created by our ideas and how we live them out.
Given this reality we are faced with two stories about life. Hope or fear. Our problem is compounded by the fear merchants who try to manipulate us. There are narratives asking us to give over our freedom to escape fear. We project a controlling agent that will save us at the last minute. We get frozen in fear which freeze frames us as victims. At times we have had theologies that reinforced and created dependancies that froze us in immature faith. In such a faith, atrocities and evil were willed by God. That makes it even harder to love God!
Our hearts are churning with issues of war, terror, economic free fall, and family issues. What we have discovered is all the societal updates provide little consolation for our deep spiritual distress. Spiritual bromides are just that.
What is needed in a fear culture is a second look? We need to pause, gather our thoughts, take a breath, and then ask penetrating questions. We move from a fear frame, being frozen, to a freedom frame. It is to call upon our faith that we are not alone. We live in God's world. We ask "What is needed?'‘. How do we witness?
The bible deals with this problem. Jesus finds his disciples quivering in an upper room. They have lost their nerve, and they are fearful. Jesus appears in
Their midst and says, "Peace be with you." He does everything he can
to get their attention off the fear and onto something greater. His is a
Voice of comfort and reassurance that appeals to their history. In that moment they discover their true humanity, lose their fear and set off to change history.
It was in concrete act of relationship that the disciples came to feel and to know that their encounters with Jesus was a metaphor of God-with-them. Jesus touched people to heal them, Jesus broke bread for those who were hungry, Jesus broke down barriers of exclusion and shame in actual occasions of table fellowship with the poor and the outcast. Luke depicts the Risen Jesus continuing the same central features of his earthly ministry with his disciples : he touches them, as he'd touched countless others, he eats with them. In this encounter the disciples continue to experience Jesus' ministry — indeed, they are empowered to continue and expand Jesus' ministry.
We know it takes a lot of work to fashion faith that is alive and well on the most ordinary and uneventful days. We need a spirituality that can deal with the bumps in life. We are thirsting for living water, hungering for solid food. We come here to be fed. We come not just to find some moral tidbits, some basic self affirmation, though that is important. We look for something more grounding than civic ethics or behaviour, though they help. We come to taste that which is really true that which is life changing and world changing. We want a faith that can deal with the hard issues of evil and loss and not be overcome. We need a faith so we can move on into that dangerous future to create a hopeful reality.
This is why the church is in the world, for we are witnesses to the real and vital continuing relationship with the Risen Jesus. It is that continuing relationship we internalize. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit — that empowers us. It is to move from frozen in fear time to greatness. With hope, we claim our freedom to be more humane.
We stand in Greatness and it is grounded by our daily attention of letting the power of faith guide us in all things. The Good News for this Sunday is: the Risen Jesus continues in real and vital relationship in the community of those who follow him. We have a real and vital relationship that transcends the limits of death, and that continues to be manifested in concrete acts of ministry, healing, teaching, learning, community compassion, and outreaching love. We are called to greatness and we are asked to live our version of it. We have all that is needed. We are not alone. God is with us. We are here. Look around, we are community that will move boldly into the world of danger and joy.