Sunday, April 19, 2015

We are a resurrected people!

We are a resurrected people!

Our Gospel opens today right after the two disciples return from the Emmaus road encounter and everyone is talking about what happened in how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread when he suddenly appears in the room.
The experience is unexpected and terrifying for they think they are seeing a ghost.  Yet he asks them “Why are you afraid?”  He basically explains to them this is what I have been talking about all along…if you were paying attention.  I mean I told you “that everything ever written about me in the law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44) Then Christ opens their minds for so they can finally see and understand all that was written about the Messiah.
Rev. Michael Marsh states “It’s not enough that the tomb is empty. It’s not enough to proclaim, “Christ is risen!” It’s not enough to believe in the resurrection. At some point we have to move from the event of the resurrection to experiencing the resurrection. Experiencing resurrected life begins with recognizing the risen Christ among us. That is the gift of Easter and it is also the difficulty and challenge described in today’s gospel.”[1]
The problem here is the actual sudden appearance of Christ in the room.  This is what I call a Breaking in.  Christ/God is constantly breaking in, breaking into the everyday experience of normal people.  Basically that is what much of the Old Testament is about.  God walks in the Garden of Eden.  God shows up in Josephs Dreams.  God appears in a burning Bush.  God comes as a still small voice to Elijah.
So what is the shift here?  What is the Difference?  There is the obvious shift in that God has taken on the Mantle of Humanity to live and experience all we experience.  God walked among people for 33 years and offered wisdom and counseling and example of how we should live.  God was and is among us.
Reverend Marsh goes on to state “With Jesus’ resurrection, however, God shatters human categories of who God is, where God’s life and energy are to be found, and how God works in this world. Resurrected life can never be comprehended, contained, or controlled by human thought or understanding. Jesus’ resurrection compels us to step outside our usual human understandings of reality and enter into the divine reality.”[2] The invitation here is for us to participate in the life of Christ as Christ participates in our own.
This isn’t a God in heaven breaking in and then leaving us again to our own devices.  This is a living God who has experienced our experiences and as we live in Christ and Christ lives in us so are our own experience is God’s experienc. “The resurrected life of Christ, it seems, is revealed in and through the created order. It is not, however, bound by the created order. Rather, the resurrected body and life of Christ unite the visible and invisible, matter and spirit, humanity and divinity. On the one hand Jesus has a real body. On the other hand it is not subject to the natural laws of time and space. It’s not one or the other. It’s both. It is a new and different reality.”[3] This newness, this different reality is a unique and bold relationship between God and man and no longer is God some far off in heaven judge watching over creation like a man contemplates a chess board deciding what his next strategic move will be.
This is now a God that we have a relationship with.  This is a God we have permission to seek out.  This is a God who invites us into a loving relationship.  To live as a people of the resurrection and yet we are often blind to that.  We often have other things and other ways blocking our vision.  We are a people of the world and cling to the earthiness as much as possible.  We actually fight the invitation to see ourselves as beloved children of the resurrection. Reverend Marsh refers to this as “being bound to the created order”.
You see “the degree to which we have allowed ourselves to be bound by the created order is the degree to which are unable to see resurrected life and holiness in this world. We bind ourselves through our fears, our sorrows and losses, our runaway thoughts and distractions, our attachments and addictions to things, people, and even beliefs. Sometimes it’s our unwillingness to allow or trust God to grow and change us. In binding ourselves to the created order we lose recognition of and the ability to live in the sacred. That’s the very opposite of resurrected life.”[4]
In other words in the beginning there was light and dark and so on.  Then there were the Law and the Prophets.  In the world in which Christ and his followers lived in there was a hierarchy and an expected order to life and people and things. But God as Christ broke through all that so we could live better stronger lives in a beloved relationship with God. Part of that beloved relationship is recognizing that God is with us, Literally Emmanuel.
“The resurrected life of Christ reveals that all creation and every one of us are filled with God, holiness, divinity. Nothing can bind or supersede the grace that is given us through resurrection: unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional life.”[5]  We are called into experience more than just God breaking in but a resurrected Christ.  This resurrected Christ is with us day in and day out, revealing God’s grace to us, all we need to do is look and see, touch and feel, and then know….know that God is here.
The Gospel says that Christ opened their minds to understand the scriptures. “He said to them ‘this is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name.”(Luke 24:46) Living life in the resurrected Christ we have a changed heart and life.  We live to proclaim that there is nothing you can do to separate you from the love of God.  In the resurrected life there is nothing but forgiveness, if, if we allow ourselves to feel, to learn, to know the resurrected Christ.
“Christ our God longs and desires to open our minds to understand the scriptures, to understand all that has been written, spoken, and revealed about him in whatever form that happens and has happened. That’s what Jesus did for the disciples and it’s what he does for us. This is not an academic or intellectual understanding. That the disciples are witnesses does not mean they now have all the answers. It means they now have the life Jesus wants to give them. They are witnesses based not on what they know, but on who they are, how they live, and their relationship with the risen Christ.”[6]
I have said the secret to being a Christian starts with telling the story.  This is what we do as a congregation every Sunday.  We tell the story as it is written.  But there is a second part of that story, the second part of the story of the resurrected Christ is you.  How you live the resurrected life, how you seek out and Find Christ in your day to day life and allow that to manifest in this world and that, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story.
So the challenge before us is to seek out the Christ that doesn’t just break into our lives but is with us every day.  We are not to look to a God that is there to offer us an answer to a prayer, or a miracle on a special occasion but to see and live out the resurrected Christ in our daily lives. So where is the resurrected Christ in our daily lives?  Where are some of the places it is easy to see a vibrant God in our lives?
Reverend Marsh goes on to say “I don’t know how this happens. I can’t give you a set of instructions or a to-do list. That would be like giving you a set of instructions on how to fall in love. The resurrected life is not acquired it is received. It happens when we risk unbinding ourselves from the usual ways of seeing, living, and relating. This is not a rejection of the natural order. It is allowing the natural order to open to and reveal something more. That’s what happened for the disciples with Jesus’ hands and feet, with his flesh and bones, and the broiled fish. They saw and recognized something about Jesus and in so doing they saw and recognized something about themselves; holiness. It happens for us too.”[7]
I think this may be where I disagree with Reverend Marsh…you see there are a set of instructions, there always has been.  Through Christ’s teachings and way of being we get a foundation.  Christ shows us how to live, how to pray, how to eat and how to love.  Yes I said Eat, Pray, Love! No I do not mean the movie, I mean this is the example of how to live a resurrected life as it is shown in the way Christ walked on this Earth.
I want you to “Think about a time in your life when you lost track of time. I don’t mean you forgot what time it was, but that you were so awake, so present, that you entered a new world. Think about a time when life seemed more real than it ever had and you touched or tasted life in a way like never before. Recall a moment when your heart opened, softened, and you knew you were somehow different. Remember that day when you sensed something new was being offered you; possibilities that you did not create for yourself. They just opened up. Reflect on that moment when you realized that you were ok and could again start to live. Those are the moments when Christ opens our minds to understand. They are moments of awe and wonder that leave us in sacred silence. They fill our eyes with tears. We weep, not from sorrow or pain, but the water of new life. They are the moments in which we say, “I never want this to end. I don’t want to leave this place.”[8] Oh what a blessing.
One of the desert Fathers, Markios the Great, believes that when we are with the resurrected Christ we, ourselves become that self-same light in the world. He says; “If you have become the throne of God, if the heavenly charioteer has ascended within you and your soul has become a single spiritual eye and has become completely luminous, and if you have been clothed in light ineffable and fed from spiritual delights and drunk from living water, and all your inner life has been tested and proven in hope, then all the truth you have started to live the eternal life, even in this present age, and your soul has found its rest in God.”[9]
You see what he is saying is when we make that connection with the pure light, or touch that pure moment when we are so aware of everything around us.  In those moments where time seems to stand still and we experience everything as a glorious lighted moment of God. “In each of those moments the one who is fully alive and risen, the Christ, is calling us to see and recognize him, to join him, and to discover our new life. This is the authentic self we long to become, the self that we already are, and the self we are becoming. This is resurrected life.”[10]
In the resurrected life, in living in the here and now and trying to be fully human, fully alive in the way that Christ was, we become a light in the world.  You are the light of the world.  When you rest and live in God it is God that is seen through you.  You are the face, hands, and feet of Christ in the world. Nothing new you have heard it here before.  This isn’t about something new; it is about allowing Christ to open our Minds that you may see and may understand.
To quote the desert father again; “When the soul becomes totally radiant and covered in ineffable beauty of the glory of the light of Christ, it comes to share in the very life of the divine Spirit to such perfection that it is changed into the very chamber and throne of God.”[11] We are invited and we do share in the very life of Christ a life that lives here today just as real, just as present to us as it was to the disciples over 2000 years ago.
We just have to take the time, make the time to practice seeing, to practice hearing God now today.  How this is done is different for each one of us. Some people like contemplation in action.  Some find it through studying the scriptures.  Others find it through expressions of song, music and dance. I cannot tell you any one way is best but, what I can tell you is that you must seek out and find your way.
Where is your secluded room?  Where is your place that Christ is going to pop in on you?  Do you take time to reflect and see where you might have seen Jesus today?  Do you ever stop and just pause in the awe and wonder of being alive?
We have the story of Christ and the apostles.  We have the writings of the apostles.  We have the writings and reflections of the desert Mothers and Fathers.  We have great teachers like Henri Nouwen, James Finley, or Thich Nhat Hanh.  You need to find your own path.
There are retreat centers surrounding the Los Angeles basin that offer days of silence or opportunities to stop and be with God in prayer through Guided retreats. There are centers that offer classes in painting sculpture or weaving.  I asked you the other week do you play and pray?  There are professional spiritual companions who will talk with you and walk with you and help you discover how Christ is walking with you today.
In todays centering prayer/song we heard Eddie Vetters sing:

I feel part of the universe...
open up to meet me
my emotion so submerged...
broken down to kneeling

what's listening?... voices they care...

had to somehow greet myself... read myself
heard vibrations within my cells... in my cells

Singin' laaa...

my love is saved for the universe...
see me now I'm bursting
on one planet so many turns...
different worlds

singin' laaa...

fill my heart with discipline...
put there for the teaching
in my head see clouds of stairs...
help me as I'm reaching

the future's paved... with better days

The future is paved with better days, not because Christ died but because Christ Lives. So I challenge you to leave here today and pay attention to the world around you.  Listen for Gods still small voice.  How is God calling you into a deeper life, a richer life, a resurrected life?  Once you find it, where will it lead you?  I look forward to hearing the rest of the story from you.  Amen!

[1] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[2] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[3] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[4] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[5] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[6] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[7] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[8] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[9] John Anthony McGuckin, The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul's ascent, from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives (Boston, Mass: Shambhala, 2003), Digital eBook.
[10] Michael K. Marsh, “You are Witnesses” – A Sermon on Luke 24:36-48; Easter 3B, April 22, 2012, accessed April 13, 2015,
[11] McGuckin, The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul's ascent, from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives.

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