Sermon by Rev. Kelly Jane Caesar
April 26, 2020
When two disciples are fleeing from the chaos and pain and fear of Jerusalem,
Christ shows up.
So too is Christ is with us in our grief, in our shock, in our fleeing from pain.
In the cleansing comfort of tears,
In the kind listening of a friend,
In the new understanding gleamed,
Christ is with us in our pain.
When the two disciples are on the road Christ shows up even though they don’t realize it is him.
So too is Christ with us when we don’t even realize it until after the fact.
When a heartache somehow clears the way for a deeper love,
When a lost opportunity leaves space for a better one,
When deep growth and love emerges out of brokenness,
Christ is with us when we look back and see he has been alongside – or carrying- us all the time.
When the two disciples sit for a meal together,
Practicing hospitality, blessing bread and giving thanks,
They see that the stranger is indeed Christ.
So too is Christ with us when we extend hospitality, break bread together, give thanks for what we have.
When we offer what we have to help others,
Be it time, toilet paper, money, masks or groceries.
When we connect with one another
Be it over zoom or telephone or email or FB or handwritten note
When we give thanks and practice gratitude,
Be it with a simple prayer or gratitude journal
When we extend hospitality, connect and give thanks,
We are bound to something greater, our hearts are filled,
and we see that Christ is with us in the small great everyday connections.
When the two disciples return to Jerusalem to tell the others the Good News,
They learn they are not the only ones who have witnessed the Risen Christ.
The other disciples quickly tell them,
“The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon.”
Now, you might be wondering –
Wait, I thought it was the women who went to the tomb.
You are right.
All four gospels report that the women are the first to the empty tomb.
Jesus appears to Mary and the women on that first Easter Sunday morning.
Simon Peter sees the empty tomb after the women’s report –
But the only Gospel account of Simon Peter encountering the Risen Christ takes place days after the first appearances.
It occurs up in Galilee and includes other disciples too…
So that doesn’t quite line up with today’s scripture in which the disciples say,
On that first Easter Sunday,
“Jesus appeared to Simon”
However, there does appear to be a tradition that Jesus did appear to Simon Peter on that first Easter Sunday. In the letter to the Corinthians (1 Cort. 15:3-7) Paul states that Simon Peter (called Cepheus by Paul) does see the resurrected Christ – but Paul gives us no details on the encounter other than it came before Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples – which was the evening of the first Easter Sunday. The tradition that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter makes sense because Simon Peter became the leader of the early church.
So, if it is true that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter on Easter Sunday –
As the disciples report in today’s scripture and Paul later points to –
Then the Resurrected Jesus was doing some serious traveling on that first Easter Sunday.
First at the tomb and then with the women,
then with Simon Peter, then with the disciples on the road to Emmaus,
Then back in Jerusalem in the locked upper room where he shows his wounds to all but Thomas.
Given the number of reports,
It is possible the Risen Christ was in multiple locations at the same.
After all, when the two disciples started their journey to Emmaus,
They had not heard the account of Jesus appearing to Simon Peter –
They had only heard of the women.
This leads me to believe the appearance of Simon Peter was at the same time as Christ was walking with the two disciples on the road. Perhaps Christ was in two places at once.
In any case, these resurrection stories highlight that
Christ’s presence is not limited by time or space –
Christ is not limited by the time restraints us humans deal with.
Sometimes people worry that their needs or concerns or joys are too small to
“take up God’s time.”
Sometimes people hold back on sharing their joys or concerns with God,
Thinking they are not as important as others,
Especially when others are suffering greatly.
Yet we see in these resurrection stories that the Risen Christ is not bound by earthly rules of time or space…Christ is with us, beyond time, beyond space…
Christ can hear our little prayers and big heartaches with full attention.
Christ is eager to hear our prayers –
Whether they are shared before a meal,
In the shower,
Or spoken only in our minds.
The Resurrection itself shows us that Christ is always with us – nothing can separate us from Christ –
Not death, nor life, nor heights, nor depths,
Nor a cross, nor a government, nor a virus,
Nor denial, nor fear, nor guilt,
nor anything else in all creation
Can separate us from Christ.
Christ is always with us, always available to listen and sit with us through whatever we are going through
So let us take comfort, share with Jesus all the ups and downs, all the feelings, big and small.
Christ will walk with us and help us see. Amen.