I find it fascinating how long it took Jesus to convince the disciples that he was not dead.
Now, we should not look to denigrate the disciples for their struggles. After all, "resurrection" had never happened before. They had seen Jesus die! While they had hoped things would be different, the stone rolled in front of the tomb seemed pretty strong evidence that indeed it was finished.
Then Jesus starts appearing - here, there and everywhere. The disciples were filled with a strange mix of emotions. Over and over again we read and hear about them being terrified and confused, and yet joyful, when Jesus is with them.
In the 24th chapter of Luke's gospel, we find a most intriguing gathering. Jesus shows up with the disciples and says "Peace be with you." The disciples, we are told, are startled and terrified.
But this leads to a really extraordinary exchange between Jesus and those who knew him best. Jesus recognizes the terror in the eyes of these people and tries to set their minds at rest. "Why are you frightened and what do doubts arise in your hearts?" Jesus asks. "Look at my hands and my feet. It is really me. Touch me and see."
Still, we are told that they were "joyful, but still disbelieving and still wondering." Jesus had to wonder what in the world it would take to convince these disciples that he was not dead.
Jesus knew that unless and until they believed that he was not dead they would not be able to really hear, understand and accept what God had made possible in and through Jesus' death and resurrection. What would it take to break through?
So, Jesus does something wonderfully unconventional. He asks them a question. "What do you have to eat?"
Undoubtedly, the disciples had to wonder if they really heard this. Nevertheless, they go and get a piece of broiled fish and give it to him. "And he took and ate it in their presence."
And Jesus took the fish and he ate the fish. Imagine something so ordinary and common would be the tool which Jesus uses to convince these disciples he was not dead. Not his appearing among them. Not his words. But Jesus eating a piece of fish!
Once they were sure that Jesus really was not dead, it was then that Jesus could move on and begin to "open the Scriptures" to them. When they accepted that he was not dead, "then" they could hear these life-giving words for them.
Sometimes we are led to believe that it is only by a "jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, knock your socks off Lucas-film type" of miracle that we can begin to experience the presence of God in our lives and through our lives. Yes, the Apostle Paul is proof that there times that God uses such miraculous displays to intercede in the world.
Yet, how often do the Scriptures point to the "ordinary" ways in which God reaches out to get our attention. Jesus in fact used the simple and ordinary objects and experiences to help those around him begin to explain the mysterious and inexplicable Kingdom of God.
I began to wonder - just how might God be trying to get our attention? What might it take us to be convinced that God is alive and at work and with us?
Could it be something as simple as the bright sun in the morning? Or the laughter of children playing? Or the cycle of the seasons? Or eating together around a table here at PPC?
Or the lives with whom we intersect, either long term or for a few moments, which may not only make a difference for the others, but certainly touches our own lives.
It is indeed an awesome thing to realize that God is with us and that God continues to reach out to us even now. Knowing that God is truly with us can make all the difference in our life's journey.
Yet, perhaps, just as awesome is for us to consider that we, as individuals and as a church community, can be the means through which God reaches out to the world. We could be the ones through whom God gets the attention of others. Knowing that God is working in us and through us can make all the difference in the life's journey of the people and the world around us.