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Apr 01, 2018

If You Had Seen What I Saw

If You Had Seen What I Saw

Passage: Luke 24:13-49

Speaker: Father Will Lowry

Series: All

Category: All

Keywords: easter

It would be really nice to have angels just show up when things got hard or to point us the way when we need it or even to engage us with specific missions for God. But, you know, now that I think about it, I know plenty of stories about angels - and I bet you do, too.

This week I spent some time researching moon phases and cycles and went all the way back to the first century. And, according to my research and calculations Easter Sunday in the year 33 CE was in fact on April Fools’ Day. That’s right, 1,985 years ago Jesus was raised from the dead on April Fools’ Day. (Nah, I’m just kidding). 

If I had to bet, over 80% of preachers this Sunday have alluded to the combination of April Fools Day and Easter on our calendar. I didn’t want to be in the minority so I have now done my duty and we can move on (maybe).

Surely, when Mary saw the angels sitting where Jesus had been lying she thought it was some kind of joke. In fact, she probably couldn’t believe her eyes from the moment she realized the stone had been rolled away. And let’s not even pretend that she didn’t do a huge double take when the gardener turned into Jesus. Even though she likely knew an angel or two had meddled in another Mary’s life, even though by now she should have been used to strange things happening - it must have been quite the surprise for Jesus to suddenly be standing there where the gardener once had stood. 

And, I imagine, the other disciples when Mary told them her story felt much like she did. Surely she is playing a prank or has gone crazy. (Or, they must have known that it was April fools day.)

I can only fantasize about what it must have been like to live in a time where angels and the resurrected Jesus were present. It would be really nice to have angels just show up when things got hard or to point us the way when we need it or even to engage us with specific missions for God.

But, you know, now that I think about it, I know plenty of stories about angels - and I bet you do, too.

One of my favorite writers recently wrote about an encounter he had with a stranger at a grocery store who recognized him and told him his angel story. The man had been riding in the back of his father’s pick-up truck as a child with his older brother following in a car behind them. They were on a dirt road and hit a bump that threw the younger version of the man out of the back. His brother couldn’t stop and ran over him. As the three of them sat there desperate in the middle of nowhere - the young boy not able to take a breath and his lips turning blue, a drifter wearing a fedora hat appeared. He had a duffle bag. He said nothing. He reached out, touched the boy’s chest once. The boy’s chest expanded - he could breath. The man had already disappeared.

The first funeral I ever officiated was of a woman who lived directly behind the church and rectory at my first parish. She was 92. Her friends called her “Ger”. It was a nickname her grandson gave her because he couldn’t say grandmother. I got to call her “Ger” too. I like that. Ger told me about her angel story. She owned and ran a small flower and jewelry shop on the square.

At lunchtime, a woman entered and looked around the store for a minute and then left. A few moments later the woman and a man burst back into the store and he pulled a large knife. They were there to rob Ger’s store. She resisted - she was stabbed many times. But she told me she never felt any pain. Instead, there was a being standing behind the man - nothing was ever said, but she knew she would be okay - even as she felt herself begin to pass out the comfort of this being remained. The last thing she remembered before passing out was that she felt “like the warm sunshine shining on her face and warming her entire body.”

I too have had my own moments. None of them tragic or gruesome. Some of them dream like, some of them as real as you sitting there in that pew.

Most of you are also probably aware of the stories of the “Butterfly People” after the Joplin tornado in 2011. There were reports of “butterfly” like beings that protected people in the midst of that great tragedy. A three year old boy who was found in the middle of a field miles from his home, when asked how he got there he responded that the “Butterfly People brought me.” Another resident was quoted as saying, ”If you had seen what I saw, you would understand."

And perhaps that is where Mary and the disciples were too. “If you had seen what I saw, you would understand.”

And I’m sure we would - I mean that’s why we have doubting Thomas, right?

And perhaps that’s the problem. We did not see what they saw. We were not there. We don’t get to stick our fingers in the wounds.

Are we to discount what Mary and the disciples saw like some might discount these other stories simply because they are hard to believe? Because we haven’t seen what they saw?

Friends let me tell you. Jesus Christ is alive and well. And the living God is among us. There are Holy moments all around us - maybe, we don’t notice, or believe them even when they are right before our very eyes. 

Perhaps the problem is that when we come face-to-face with obviously holy things we don’t pause long enough to notice them. That’s the real trick. To stop and take notice - to pay attention long enough that we don’t miss the point. We simply must keep our eyes wide open so that we might see the glory of God - the resurrected Jesus.

So here is what I want you to know.

Everything that you have heard here today is true. All of it. The angels, the empty tomb, the resurrection of the one who had been dead for three days. It is all true. It’s not a trick. It’s not a joke. 

If you don’t believe me, look around you. Christ is sitting next to you. God is all around you, right here and right now. And God is present with us in each and every place in this world. All we have to do is take notice.

Amen.