As Sunday April 11th neared I braced myself a bit. There was word of a “White Lives Matter” protest based on posters that had been placed around cities such as Fargo: posters with a stereotypical Aryan-looking man’s face on them, square jawed, light hair, master-race look from WWII. Thankfully, virtually no one showed up in Fargo or anywhere for those rallies. In Fargo a couple hundred folks did show up, peacefully affirming diversity instead. Then came Monday. A colleague from Brooklyn Center shared the news of another black man killed by police and chaos into the streets. On the national news there were images of a black soldier being pepper-sprayed in his car by police. As the day unfolded there was a school shooting in Knoxville killing one student, injuring more and injuring a police officer. A police chase in Georgia ended up in three officers shot and killed. On a personal note a family friend collapsed at work with a possible heart-attack. An acquaintance’s daughter took her life. A vandalism-spree damaged 60 cars in Devil’s Lake Sunday night.
Friends, we can brace ourselves in this life. But, bad, stressful stuff can still take us by surprise. I saw a number of Facebook posts Monday with varied versions of “This just has to stop!” “We have to be better to each other!” “Our nation’s people are tired!” Not long after the beating, trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus, not long after the word of the disappearance of Jesus’ body, with a few accounts of a risen Christ, Jesus’ disciples were sticking close to one another. They were supporting each other and bracing for any next “bad” thing that might come their way. Jesus’ resurrection had not claimed and transformed their lives…because every time the risen Christ drew near. his followers were terrified and filled with fear. On Sunday we’ll read Luke 24:36b-48 and hear their fear described.
Jesus’ followers were bracing themselves for the worst. So, the risen Christ kept appearing with the words, “Peace be with you” and “Do not be afraid.” Peace be with you. Some days we desperately need to hear those whispered into our lives. A sunrise, a world covered in a blanket of snow, the laughter of a toddler, the nuzzle of a four-legged friend vying for a bit of attention, sure, none of those things is as big a sign as the risen Christ standing in our midst, but they are all good things.
Another good thing the risen Christ shares with his followers when he appears is a word to look at his feet and hands–scarred, that is, wounded and healed. Sometimes the best thing Christ’s church can share is the truth that life scars us, as well as scares us. Life scars us is a much different word than life wounds us. Scars imply healing after the pain. Scars imply joy on the other side of despair, hope on the other side of fear. Scars imply, when bracing ourselves isn’t enough and life knocks us down, God will tend our wounds and lift us back up, again and again.
Today, I invite us to work with God. Acknowledge another who is hurting. Acknowledge some days life is difficult. Then help others up in every little and large way you can–in the name of the risen Christ.
In God’s Peace and Christ’s New Life,