April 15, 2018
3rd Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1-7
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
One of my favorite ice breaker or getting to know you conversation starter has been, “Tell the story of your favorite scar.”
I know, slightly quirky, but it works well for people of all ages. Scars come with all sorts of stories. I think there are three kinds of scars…ones that happen by accident, ones that happen on purpose, and the ones we know are there, but we cannot see.
The accidental ones often make the best stories. For example, this finger has a scar on both sides. It happened on a first (and only date). Parked three blocks from the restaurant, I slammed the truck door shut and my finger was in it. I said, Jay, can you open the door? He said, what? I said can you unlock the door? He said why? I said, my finger is in it!!
Needless to say…that made for an interesting evening.
There are other accidental scars that many of us get growing up because we’re living our lives to their fullest. We may have scars from bumps or bruises, biking or playing on the playground, skiing, skateboarding, sports, you name it. They are accidental, but there they are.
Some scars are part of our bodies on purpose…they are the ones often times from surgeries. Whether planned or emergency, we have opted to have something done. Something that will leave a scar, but will hopefully provide healing or better health in our future. It may be a new knew or hip, they are very popular these days. It may be the removal of a tumor or lump that could be cancerous. But they are scars that we see as part of our bodies as something we needed to help us move forward in life in the best physical condition that we can.
And then there are the scars we cannot see, but we know are there. It’s the scars that we have in or on our hearts. When mass shootings happen, we carry the wounds of a hurting nation. When loved ones die, our hearts are wounded. When someone we care for deeply is struggling with addiction, our hearts are wounded. When someone we love goes through a divorce, job loss, or the loss of a child, we carry those wounds in our heart. And when we ourselves have been emotionally or verbally hurt, those wounds are there, too.
It’s safe to say that we all have scars.
We have all been hurt at some point in our lives and we carry the scars to prove it. Scars are a sign that we never totally forget our pain, although we can be restored.
Jesus stood among the disciples and he says to them, “Peace be with you.”
They fear he is a ghost to which he replies, “Why are you frightened? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet, see these wounds, touch me and see…for a ghost does not have flesh and bones like I do, see that I am myself.”
So they look…and see…but while there is joy, there is disbelieving.
It seems that they are so happy, excited, overwhelmed, even, that Christ has been raised from the dead that the news is so good, that it still cannot be true. Even through Christ is present, is standing in their midst, they are still not able to fully believe what they are seeing.
There is a good chance we have felt this way on some level before. Maybe you have been at a family gathering and had truly hoped a long lost relative would attend, but you couldn’t be sure of it…and then he or she walks in the room…and you are happy, excited, but still cannot believe they made it and are here with you.
It may be the joy of being accepted to the number one college choice, or being hired for job that seemed too good to be true, but you receive the acceptance letter and have to read it twice, or even more to let the truth of the joy sink in.
While there is joy…there seems to be an ounce of uncertainty, that the other shoe could drop, that this is too good to be true.
For the disciples, this is an absolutely tricky place to be. While Jesus had been with them, he had foretold his death and resurrection, yet in those initial hours and days after Jesus had been raised, they were still in the shock and grief of mourning…not wanting to come to terms with the fact that their teacher and friend had died, and now, and empty tomb, and look…here he is.
Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. No wonder there is some disbelief.
So Jesus shows them his hands and feet. Look and see, he says. See that I am myself.
I am the one who was put to death on a cross and was buried.
You can see the wounds, the wounds of suffering and death.
The wounds of pain and agony.
The wounds that show how death and the grave have been conquered.
The wounds that show the presence of Jesus in the midst of all pain, suffering and death.
The wounds that show that Jesus has been restored.
The wounds that remind us that we can be restored.
We have been restored.
It is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that we have been restored and are continually restored to wholeness in God’s eyes.
In the presence of the disciples, in the midst of their joy in disbelieving, Jesus shows the wounds, the scars of what he has experienced. The scarred and wounded Jesus comes to us glorifying God in wholeness and fullness and grace. And at the same time, still very human and vulnerable.
When Jesus shows the disciples (and us) these scars, we know what he has experienced, we know that he has been healed, and we know that all of that has been for us. We know that he has experienced life to the fullest – a life that included love and loss, sickness and pain and in the end death. (Except that death was not the end for Jesus.)
We can seek comfort in the peace that Jesus shares with his disciples and with us.
We can seek comfort in the wounds of Christ that we see on the risen Lord, because we know from them that he knows our pains, our struggles, our suffering and our loss.
We know that whatever scars we carry, Jesus is with us, Jesus knows our pain and wants us to be restored. We live in the light of an empty tomb…knowing that the scars we gain here are not the full story. Through the waters of baptism, we are restored, made whole and given new life in Christ.
We carry our past experiences in our scars, as does Jesus, knowing that we too, are transformed, restored to continue to live lives of love and service for others.
Whatever the scars are that you carry on you or inside of you, know that Jesus bears them as well. You do not bear these experiences alone. Together, we continue to live and love, support one another and share in this journey of life and faith.
May the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, amen.