Sunday, April 22, 2012

To All Nations

While the disciples were telling how they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." Luke 24:36b-48

Last weekend I had the privilege of leading a retreat with a group of Navajo people who are training for ordination. We talked about the "process" a lot, and about some of the challenges of making the church culturally appropriate across their nation. Some things don't translate from culture to culture and folks have to find ways to express them in their own ways. In the past, the church frowned upon any Native cultural expression being brought into church. In my mother's generation and before, they were told that all of the spirituality and traditions of their people were of the devil, and to be a christian they had to put away all that they knew. Now, we have a great deal of work in repairing that loss and exclusion. And yet, wonderfully, these folks want to carry the Gospel across their vast nation, and desire to share their faith within the midst of their people.

Jesus found the disciples, isolated and early in the morning. He asked to have something to eat as they trembled in fear, not knowing what to do. Just a few days earlier, they had known only death and destruction, and were having a hard time comprehending the resurrection. Taking in that reality was overwhelming. From that humble little breakfast with friends, that place of intimacy and care, we hear Jesus empowering them to take God's love and forgiveness to all nations. From the humblest of places, the simplest tables, God empowers us to share the good news.

Today I ask God to empower us all, with a spirit of humility and joy, so that we can carry the message of love and forgiveness to our various nations, not hiding the good news in confusing ritual, but rather sharing it right where the people are - from breakfast tables, from family gatherings, from familiar places - to all our nations. May we be translators and interpreters, hosts and servants, so that all the good news might be shared across our unique and gifted nations. Strengthen us today, Lord Christ, that we might be simple disciples, ready to rejoice in the wondrous love we have been given, and willing friends, sharing our stories with the world.

The Collect

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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