Sermon – 04-12-20 – Easter Sunday – Cycle A
Scriptures: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10
Sermon Title: “The Reunion in Galilee”
Bryant took his family for granted while living at home, going to high school, playing sports. There was always food prepared or food to be prepared in the refrigerator, clothing laundered or a handy washing machine, someone around to share the disappointments or the joys of the day. Leaving home to go to college was exciting. Freedom shouted loudly from the skies. That was Day 1 and maybe Day 2. Then the duties and responsibilities peeped their lovely heads from around the corner. But still, it was good.
Then came classes. Some were interesting and kept Bryant alert. Some were like “this class costs how much and how am I going to stay awake?” And the dining room food! This is suffering without a doubt! Absolutely no calling it quits yet. So one day after another. No going home on the weekend with 400 miles between the haven of love and the upper bunk in the dorm.
Bryant is not a spoiled, upper middle class college kid. He managed to work for money a bit each week, his family saved and saved and he and his family will be paying for this college expense way into the years ahead. Quitting after a month at college really is not an option. But by the time Thanksgiving comes, this kid is beyond ready to hitch a ride to the bus depot to catch the long-distance bus that goes to the city near Bryant’s home. He is definitely eager for the reunion that is waiting for him.
Well, hugs were always available when one wanted them but they were usually not desired by a high school male. This is different. With the pumpkin pies exuding their fragrance somewhere behind the more important mother, father and even younger sister, this college male reaches for the hugs. This first reunion feels so good. It is time for rejoicing! The time together has a fresh feeling as well as a time of renewed memories from the past 17 years. Bryant discovers a new, strong feeling of belonging and trust and hope. Bryant can revel in this familiar family nest but it is not grabbing him long-term.
Bryant has been out of the nest long enough, spread his wings over unknown land, met new people, gained new self-confidence even though he did not realize this was happening in the space of time from September through November. But as Thanksgiving vacation comes to a close, Bryant feels ready to assume a new persona, with newly acquired knowledge and new ability.
Let’s move the feelings of Bryant to the disciples of Christ. The feelings of disappointment, hopelessness, even rejection. The disciples of Jesus the Christ had made the leap from familiar to totally unknown when Jesus called. Here there was no top bunk even. No, most likely there was bumpy sod for a bed. It cost them money just as college cost Bryant and his parents money. The disciples had given up their income and even their families in a moment, according to the story. Did you ever wonder how the families survived?
Did the disciples ever have reunions with their families? Strange, don’t you think. Did their families understand that this Jesus calling was not a simple desertion as husbands and fathers? How about parents who expected these very men to support them in their old age? The whole lives of the disciples were consumed by the charismatic man of God. Almost like being in quicksand, once in that spot of following Jesus, a disciple could expect to be drawn into that bond ever more deeply. Think about the women who followed this band of men led by Jesus. The women gave their lives to be part of this ministry. They helped to provide what goods the men needed because some of these women were wealthy. They sacrificed time and money to support this new, real thing happening.
Both the devotion and action of these disciples and the supporting women involved their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. It certainly was not a vacation in an exotic place. But it was not an ordinary life by any means. And these were no ordinary man. There was no college degree at the end of these three years or no business success. And yet they followed or, more honestly, they were drawn.
But as three years are coming to a close, they find themselves in Jerusalem. What a place! Loud, full of people. No wonder. It is the observance of the Passover; a very sacred time to remember how the Israelites were told to wipe the blood of animals on their doorposts to save their children. Every year the Jews (Israelites) are expected to walk or ride animals to come to this holy city to offer animals as sacrifices in thanksgiving to God for this saving of their children.
The disciples know this year is different. Their master has tried to tell them that something dreadful is going to happen to him. It is hard to comprehend. Harder than the college classes Bryant was handling. The disciples soon learn the hard way. They have a final supper together. There is talk about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood. “Oh dear!” they probably say to themselves. Then there is this business about someone betraying Jesus. One of them! Jesus tells Judas to go do what he must do. Well later some of the disciples are in the garden with Jesus when Judas kisses Jesus. That kiss sets the soldiers into action and the disciples disappear into the night. The trial. Dragging the cross up the hill. The hanging of Jesus on the cross. The final dagger in the disciples hearts wherever they are hiding at the 3:00 afternoon earthquake and death. Final! No bus to catch for home in this scene. Total despair! Not only does it seem like a waste of three years. This were their master, their protector, their leader, their mentor. Now what!
In the version of the Easter story that we are using this year from Matthew, as two women are approaching the tomb where Jesus had been placed on Friday, an earthquake and an angel arrive together. The guards shake! The angel rolls the stone from the entrance of the tomb. He invites the women to see the empty tomb. Does this mean that Jesus arose and escaped through the stone? The angel says,”Go tell the disciples that Jesus lives and they shall meet Jesus in Galilee!
While the women are spreading the message to the disciples, Jesus appears and repeats the angel’s direction. “Meet me in Galilee!” It seems that Jesus is very anxious to leave this city – Jerusalem. He had to be here. It was God’s plan. So Jesus came, went through the ordeal; the Father is pleased with his Son, and now it is time for the reunion. It is time for the disciples to come from their hiding places.
Each of the four gospel writers write the reunion differently. We are using Matthew today. Matthew does not include a table scene. Matthew’s dramatic reunion scene in Galilee is at a mountain. There Jesus charges the disciples to begin the church of Jesus Christ. His last words indicate a permanent reunion. Jesus says, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
[This sermon will continue next week when we explore how the disciples’ new energy is like Bryant’s experience of a new self, a new purpose.]