Preached July 26 as Part of the G-Force VBS Series.
So… today we get to the end of our journey for our G-Force series. VBS begins tomorrow… actually the fun starts immediately following worship. We’re ordering pizza and decorating for everything starting tomorrow. You’re invited to stay for lunch and help out if you don’t have lunch plans, yet.
Again, we have have been looking at VBS themes and texts—first Go, then Care. This week we are looking at how God’s Spirit empowers us to share.
Yes, share our resources.
Yes, share of ourselves.
In today’s instance what we are talking about is sharing the story of Jesus’ Resurrection.
The women going to the tomb were going about doing what they were supposed to do. They were following the custom of what one did when a loved one passed away. The unique part… well, the first unique part… wasn’t going to the tomb. That was to be expected. The unique part was that there was to be a stone rolled away…. Though the hewn-out tomb, with places for several loved ones, was common the notion of the stone rolled in front was not as common for adherents to Judaism. So the fact there was a stone and that the stone had been moved were both unique.
Its important for us to realize that this amazing thing happened in the middle of normal, everyday circumstances. People moved about, probably much like we do on Mondays, somewhere between ready to begin a new week and already feeling the burden of all the week entails. The market was set to open, chores were to be done, safety was to be seen to, prayers were to be said and sacrifices offered. In the middle of that very common experience, something amazing happened.
A second thing to notice is how this story is constructed. One way the first Easter could have happened is this: the disciples, still reeling from what happened to Jesus and risked meeting together. Somewhere in the middle of their gathering to share their grief, the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, stood up and said:
“say… remember that thing Jesus said about being raised from the dead? He was probably speaking metaphorically, but why don’t we send some folks down to the tomb on the off-chance there might have been something about his crazy talk.”
No. The women had this experience that they had shared in. It was their direct experience and not intellectual enquiry or conjecture.
Their stories simply had to be shared. There was something so compelling about what they had experienced on that first easter that it had to be told again. Sure, part of the reason for sharing it was in order to process it. But part of it was also amazement. Part of it was that the experience was too big to keep to one’s self and the only way to process it was through storytelling.
Speaking of stories. Y’all know I love listening to Moth Radio. Moth started with the originator trying to recreate what he had experienced in, of all places, Georgia. They would sit on the back porch of a friends house sharing stories. Now that porch was screened in, save one little hole that moths would fly into, unable to stop themselves from being attracted to the light. Kind of appropriate, eh… we can’t keep away from the Light that shines in the stories and songs we share and re-share? It’s even more appropriate, given that an early name for Wesley’s original accountability group when he was a student at Oxford was the “Bible Moths”. I’m glad the other derogatory term, methodist, stuck instead.
But back to the Moth..… When a storyteller stands up there and shares their story, part of the rules is that the story has to be true from the storyteller’s point of view. That might sound as if it either seems rather self-obvious or a kind way to say “don’t plagiarize”. But there’s something important here. People are sharing their experiences, their personal experiences. Part of what makes Luke’s Resurrection story so powerful is that the women who went to the grave were sharing from their own experiences. And their storytelling evoked a response… sure many thought it incredulous but Peter ran to the tomb and he had his own experience.
Here’s a story that’s true from my point of view:
We were on vacation a couple of weeks ago. Now, usually, when on vacation there’s a few days in the middle… somewhere past the process of unwinding and somewhere before thinking about all that needs to be put on the todo list so as to hit the ground running… that middle point is a place where you are truly “away”. You’re never far from my heart but I am, truly “away” in that window of time.
This time, that didn’t happen. And that’s probably a good thing, given what is before the church in these coming days, weeks, and months. Anyway…. one afternoon we were sitting on the beach. My wife and daughter were making a sandcastle, I was watching the tide roll in…. watching the sharks swim by.
And it was there on that beach that I had a realization—that what we are doing as a church is not just a good thing, a responsible thing, a sustainable thing—how ever you can describe this in the sense of “ought-ness”–but that there is this sense that this is a good thing we are anticipating. That God is in this. That I know all will not only be well, but this will be something no one will want to miss out on. That in doing this we will bless our community with a spirit of grace and welcome in a way we have yet-to-do.
I can’t really tell you how I know that. I wasn’t hit by lightning or bathed in light. I didn’t hear God’s voice. The anxiety of “what if (we can’t do this, we actually got to focus on ministry and not spend every moment worried about our facilities or the next financial crisis)” is gone. It is replaced by a sense that somewhere between of confidence and assurance. Sure, most details of what we are going to be doing is still in formation but I know “all will be well” in a way that only a few things surpass—love of God, love of my wife and child, my ordination vows… and that’s about it… right after that is this.
That surety also comes from, as one person said this week, a knowledge that all will be well because of the people and processes that are involved in guiding this church during this season of our lives. Maybe its more coincidence that in Luke the 1st evangelists were women and our Lay leader, church council chair, and chair of our redevelopment group are all women. Our story is compelling. Sure it will be a new chapter and it might even be the beginning of a second volume. But it is still the same story, same author.
Now maybe you’re thinking that I just got too much sun. And that’s okay… but my prayer for you is that you’ll be like Peter, running to see and experience for yourself so that you’ll have your story to share.