Are You Ready to Believe?


April 15, 2018

Luke 24:36b-48

Emotions are powerful!!! However, being emotional, is often seen as weakness. We are encouraged to keep our emotions in check so that we do not appear weak. Whether that emotion is one that brings tears or anger, there are individuals that will chastise us when we show either of them in the workplace. At times, those emotions are justified and are calling us internally to pay attention to what is happening.

Jesus was no stranger to emotion. He cried when his friend Lazarus died, and we know that he showed anger in the Temple when he overturned the tables of the money changers. It seems quite often, the emotion that emanates from the disciples is one of fear when they struggle to understand the divine that is in their presence.

In this morning’s gospel, we learn that Jesus, “opened [the disciples] minds to understand the scriptures” (v. 45).  This is after various times when they were left understanding nothing about the things Jesus said.  We too may feel like that when we read scripture. The sermon is one way for you to get a little better understanding of scripture, yet it is usually one sided. Christian education is a great way to enter into dialogue with one another over scripture and various topics.

A way that you can do it on your own is through Lectio Divina. If you are not familiar with it, Lectio Divina is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation, and prayer. In Lectio Divina, we welcome the word of God to live among us and listen and pray. There are four movements to Lectio Divina. We will quickly move through them this morning, not too quickly though.

  • Lectio (“read”): perhaps several times. Meditate on it as it is read.
    • What do I notice?
    • What feelings does that word or phrase bring up in me?
    • What might God be saying to me through my reaction, the emotion that is drawn?
  • Meditatio (“meditate”): Listen for the Holy Spirit, how is it moving you?
  • Oratio (“pray”): enter into dialogue with God. Listen.
  • Contemplatio (“contemplate”): A chance to just be silent and still

I pray that as we walked through that process you were able to listen and perhaps hear something different in the word that you may not have heard before. It is even better when you can spend more time with the word and an extended dialogue with God.

Each of us heard different things. Different words and phrases that spoke to us. Different emotions that developed within us. As I do this weekly with our Sunday lessons, it usually leads to the culmination of my sermon. This is the word that I need to hear from God at this present moment, and also one that the Spirit guides me to speak to Trinity Lutheran as well.

The disciples first response when Jesus appears to them in this passage is not much different than when they encountered the divine previously. Even though they heard of the previous two times Jesus appeared after the resurrection, they were startled nonetheless. They may have been joyful, but their disbelieve was still present.

I wonder if it was too soon! In their mourning, they did not want to see Jesus yet. Jesus reappearing to them means that they must get up and leave that upper room where they have been sulking. They must start living out the calling Jesus has placed on them to proclaim the good news and baptize. I wonder if they are ready to step up to these tasks and Believe. There seems to be a bit of reluctance and dragging of feet.

Whenever we are pushed out of our comfort zone, it creates an uneasy feeling and causes us to drag our feet. Change will do this. Change means that things as we knew them are no longer the way they used to be. The disciples no longer had Jesus to lead them on their journey through the countryside and beyond. The change of having to go out on their own and become leaders is startling and terrifying.

While there are similarities and skills I can take from my previous career in retail management, I will admit that the calling of a pastor brings much more anxiety. I had the answers when working for large corporations and was given directions to follow. That does not happen in the church. Each of our churches are in different context and different ministries are required in each of those contexts. It takes time to learn those contexts and the communities that we minister.  Many of you may have experienced similar situations in your careers or if you have moved from community to community.

It is easy to just sit back and hope that everything will take care of itself. There always comes a time that we must step up and believe what has been told to us and what we have seen. Jesus wants us to be transformed as we encounter the living word.

Before Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to understand scripture, he showed them how human he was. He encouraged them to touch him and feel that he is real. He is standing right there in their presence, not as a ghost, but in his physical human form. He has flesh and bones just like them. After that, he eats. Once again, to show them that he is physically with them. In their heightened anxiety, he brings them peace. That is the grace of God at work. When the disciples are exhibiting the most human emotions of fear and anxiety, Jesus comes to them bearing peace. A glimpse of the kingdom to come. He shows them that he is truly real and once again sits down to eat with them.

When we are called to be transformed, Jesus is with us. Jesus is with us in our own anxiety and fears. Jesus is with us in our doubts and uncertainties. Jesus is present to guide us when we have no idea where the road is going. Our emotions are a great indicator that something is about to happen or may not be quite right. They are our own internal thermometer that measures how we are as people of God. Jesus is present with us in all our emotions.

Whether we are fearing that next step that we must take or are joyful of the promotion that we just received. Whether we are depressed over a relationship that just ended or elated over the birth of a child. Whether we are angry with a co-worker whose errors seem to be overlooked or happy that we made our quota for the month. Jesus is present with us all the time to provide us peace. A peace that gives a glimpse of the kingdom to come. A peace that gives us the resurrected Christ.

Let us pray…All comforting God, we give thanks for the times you bring us peace and we are unaware. May we be open to the indwelling of your Spirit and the living word that resides among us. In whatever emotions we bring to you, may you still the waters with a love that knows no bounds. Amen.

Picture: Fish & Pita, Mark Hewitt, April 2012. Pastel 290W x 210H.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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