It really is a joy
to get to dwell with these texts for an extended period of time.
One of the reasons that I love this preaching thing is that I get to just sit
with these wonderful stories for a week or two,
and often in reading and thinking and pondering and studying them,
I’ll come across little gems that shine new light on me…
You don’t have to be a preacher to do that, of course.
I recommend this practice to all of you, not just reading scripture in one sitting
And then letting it go
But maybe taking a bite size chunk
And letting it work on you for a while, making the connections
With other things you’re experiencing from day to day.
As for today’s reading
I found at least two of those little gems I want to share this morning:
First, Kristen Bargeron Grant tells a story about when she was in Kindergarten:[i]
One of my favorite activities was “What’s in the box?”
The teacher cut a hand-size hole in a box,
and placed some mystery object inside.
You could reach in the box. You could smell the box.
You could shake the box – everything… but open the box.
Each one of us would take a turn with that box,
and share what we discovered with the class.
We tried to guess the right answer: “It’s kind of fuzzy.” “Is it a teddy bear?”
“It feels like a ball, but it’s pointy on the side.”
“Is it a football?”
We thought it was just a game, but our teacher was trying to show us
HOW to explore the world,
How to ASK the right questions
Put together clues
Hold back wild guesses
And be patient,
Waiting for the right conclusion to emerge.
Grant was writing about what it was like to learn how to learn.
Maybe it can be first clue for today’s reading, too,
a beautiful image for the kind of pedagogy that Jesus uses
as he leads the disciples into exploring the post-Easter world.
There are some major differences, of course.
Unlike an eager bunch of Kindergarteners,
the disciples are, well, in a different emotional place all together.
They are scared, right?
given that the leader of their movement was just arrested and executed.
Our emotions sometimes impact how it is we learn, how we see what is true
And how we value accuracy over speculation.
And then there’s something else:
the disciples are pretty sure
that they ALREADY KNOW what they are seeing.
Sometimes, being so sure that we already know the answers
Keeps us from seeing what is right before our eyes.
After all, there are only two ways to explain why this man
who looks and sounds an awful lot like Jesus is standing before them.
One is that Jesus hadn’t died at all.
But as much as they wanted to believe that, they knew that couldn’t be true.
They had SEEN the cross, the body, the sealed tomb.
They had all the evidence of THAT that they needed,
and so there was only one other conclusion:
this was a GHOST, and ghosts are not generally signs of good news.
BUT Jesus (kinda like a good kindergarten teacher, take note!)
Jesus gently coaxes them toward a third, unconsidered conclusion…
Jesus doesn’t EXPLAIN resurrection. Did you notice?
No. Jesus encourages them to DISCOVER it for themselves.
Look….my hands, and my feet. Where I was nailed to the wood.
Yup, that’s right. I did die.
A ghost? Are you sure? Is this what a ghost feels like.
Go ahead. Touch for yourself. Discover. Think. Consider.
Jesus. Jesus woulda been a great kindergarten teacher…