May I speak to you In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
In today’s gospel Jesus invites us to become witnesses, but If you’re anything like me when you hear “you are a witness of these things” you think ‘eh that’s probably just directed towards the baptists’, but Jesus actually directed it towards everyone even the episcopalians. We are all witnesses, but what are we witnesses of?
On a Sunday, morning In October of 2014, my dad was inside a Wal-Mart waiting on an employee to open the newest shipment of hunting supplies. In the same moment, several aisles over, a man who had been shoplifting shot a police officer. Even though my dad wasn’t an eyewitness, he only heard the shots, he was still considered a witness; along with almost everyone who was in the Wal-Mart at the time, because everyone has story unique to them. Even when people experience the same thing they don’t have the exact same account of what happened. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell the story of Easter a little differently. We weren’t alive when Jesus was, we didn’t actually see him like the disciples did, but I think we all have moments in our lives when he reveals himself to us. I asked Will Evans, my 6 year old brother, If there was a time when he felt like Jesus was really with him. He told me about a time he planned to jump off the fireplace mantle then land “safely” on a bean bag chair, but it didn’t go quite as he had planned. He missed the bean bag chair, yet still landed safely, he credited Jesus for his safe landing. Feeling God’s presence doesn’t have to be a near death experience of some kind, it doesn’t even have to be unique or complicated.
Have you ever seen how amazing a newborn baby can be? or sat on the beach at night and watched a lightning storm off in the distance? or felt like you really knew someone when you looked into their eyes? or had everything all go right for a day? or seen a sunset that was so beautiful you almost felt like the sky was painted just for you? It’s simple moments like those when you can really feel Jesus is with you. Other times we really have to be paying attention or we miss these moments. When I found out I got accepted to the only college I applied to, the university of Alabama, I thought back to a moment about a month before that. I remembered being particularly stressed out about getting in to college, while waiting at a random red light here in Montgomery. When an 18 wheeler belonging to the university of Alabama with the words “trust the process” painted along the side, drove past me. I think that was God’s sign for me to stop worrying about my future and trust him. I know being a witness can sound kinda scary or uncomfortable, but it can be as simple as sharing a story with a friend or family member about a moment when you felt like you saw Jesus. We sometimes stop ourselves from sharing these wonderful stories with each other because, we’re worried we’ll mistake a coincidence or a lucky break for God, but how often do we stop ourselves from sharing a rumor that may not be true? Why is it easier to share complaints, than it is to share in gods glory?
A few years ago I came across a poem,
“Our deepest fear” by Marianne Williamson,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
When I first read today’s Gospel, It made me think of this poem for a lot of reasons. I think it speaks to the question Jesus asks at the beginning of today’s Gospel, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”. Later on, The disciples were still some what in disbelief, when Jesus told them “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me” In today’s gospel Jesus’s message for the disciples isn’t just about becoming a witness, it’s also about trusting the process. God has a plan for each and everyone of us, to serve our unique purpose in life, whatever that may be. Our entire lives God encourages us to trust the process, as we are called to journey deeper into his love. As our journey continues, we’ll come to realize there are no “coincidences” or “lucky breaks”, everything happens for a reason. So often in life, it seems like we’ve lost our path or made a wrong turn, when really God is leading us toward a bigger picture. Life can be difficult and full of obstacles; We can’t know what God has in store for us, but we can trust the process. For difficult times especially I’d rather have something to trust, but God still has a plan for us whether we trust him, or not. When our trust is broken by someone we try to protect ourselves, by shutting out other opportunities to build trust. God is more reliable than any person, He will never break your trust. Gods trust isn’t a two way street, no matter what you do, it will always be there for you. Distrust is full of fear and doubtfulness, while total trust feels like peace is with you. Amen.