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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 24:36–48   

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (NRSV)

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.” That line might be my favorite line of this entire story. I love the combination of joy, the active form of disbelieving, and the mystery of wondering. Other than Widor’s “Toccata No. 5,” I cannot think of a better description of our human reaction to Easter. Widor’s toccata sounds like Easter to me, with its driving rhythm, strong melody from the pedals, and building volume. But the combination of joy and disbelieving and wonder feels like Easter to me.

Perhaps some of you might be concerned that disbelieving fits into my Easter reaction. I am comfortable with claiming it, because we still see so dimly on this side of eternity. So while I trust the Easter promise, I will always struggle to understand the beautiful mystery of it all. In addition, I find a good dose of active questioning keeps me growing in my faith. It keeps me from getting too comfortable and too settled. Finally, it is the combination of the three things—joy, disbelieving, wonder—that are so powerful.

How does Jesus respond to their reaction? He eats some fish. He does not shame the disciples or blame them or show any disappointment in them. Rather, he takes a bite of fish so his followers can continue to joyfully wonder and question this great gift called resurrection newness.

Easter God, you continue to love me as I am, and for that I am grateful. Thank you for wrapping up my joy, my wonder, my doubt, and my questions with your grace and love. May I go through this day filled with all the dramatic mystery of this Easter life, and may I be changed by it, by you. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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