Ever sat down and had a conversation with Jesus? Perhaps a strange question to pose!
Most of us in the church believe Jesus to be God-become-human, the second person of the Trinity, and the one that provides access into relationship with this Triune God. This access happens via the crucifixion, where Christ became, not only the High Priest and the altar, but the final sacrifice itself, thus securing atonement for sin. We could call sin, in this moment of global pandemic, social distancing from God, a distance, not six feet, but eternity-wide. Finally, those in the church also believe that the resurrection of Jesus became the first installment of a new world--a picture of a would-be restoration of all things, a refurbishing of our world that paves the way for a world with no disease, crime, tears or sorrow. This Jesus promises a return to lay final claim to that work--as heaven and earth coalesce and all is made firmly and finally new.
That last paragraph is a theological mouthful. While many of us have ended up with these beliefs as our faith has grown over time, none of us starts there! Instead, we often begin with a simple conversation with Jesus. It often goes something like this: Are you there? Do you care? Can I know you? Are you really God? Is this true? Have you really always existed? Are you still living today? If so, do you have my back? Will you really come back?
And for some of us, these conversation starters are already too far along. We find ourselves in a set of circumstances or in a particular situation that simply has us pleading: God help me! Please show up! Lord save me!
It might be easy to assume that every character in the Bible sports a halo; each one a saint to be revered. Instead, the pages of the Gospels, the books of Scripture that tell the story of Jesus, are full of normal, everyday people kind of like, maybe even just like, you and me. People with money. People who are poor. People with an advanced education. People struggling for hourly pay. Married people. Single people. Sick people. Heartbroken people. People with all sorts of questions about faith, and people that are seemingly too busy to even care. Old people. Young people. And everyone in between.
And many of these people who are not unlike you and me ended up pinning their entire lives, their highest hopes, and their grandest dreams on this middle-eastern Galilean named Jesus.
During Easter Season we will be exploring the everyday conversations that these normal people had with Jesus. So pull up a chair. Let your guard down. Bring out your questions. Let’s have a conversation with Jesus.
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020
Mary Magdalene - John 20:1-18
Mary Magdalene didn’t have it all together. In fact, she had none of it together. Many accused her of sexual indiscretions. She was thought to be demon-possessed. Mary Magdalene was the woman that would send others scurrying across the street. Women would hide the eyes of their children when they passed. Yet, Mary Magdalene passed by Jesus and would never be the same. Here is a man who offered her hope and healing. She would learn that this man was also God. Guilt over what she did and shame attached to who she was would begin to melt away in the presence of Jesus. She was heartbroken by his death yet heart-stricken by his Resurrection. Could it be that everything he said would come true?
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Thomas - John 20:19-30
Every crowd has a skeptic. The one we call out as a “doubting Thomas,” even though we might not even be sure to whom the reference is referring. Well, meet the authentic article--Thomas, the doubter. He was an empiricist--maybe the first scientist. He wanted to see and touch. Yet, he would learn something about hearing and believing.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Zacchaeus - Luke 10:1-19
Today our church focuses on our Local Outreach partnerships. What a Sunday to explore a conversation that Jesus had with Zacchaeus. Here is a diminutive, “wee little” man that talked a big game and demanded hefty taxes. He was despised by his own people as a tax collector who extracted their wellbeing and extorted their livelihood. He worked for “the man,” but he couldn’t help sneaking a peak when Jesus came to town. Little did he know that Jesus would invite himself over to his house and into his life. And this dishonest hoarder would give himself away to local outreach!
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Nicodemus - John 3:1-21
It took the cloak of night to help Nicodemus become comfortable with a conversation with Jesus. He had heard all about him. After all, Nicodemus was on the board of the local church. But wow, he did not understand what this Jesus was all about. What he was after. What does it mean to be born again? Nicodemus felt, as the bumper sticker goes, that he was “born okay the first time.” Then a conversation with Jesus turned his world upside down.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
The Samaritan Woman - John 4:1-42
Three strikes against her in that social context: A Samaritan. A Woman. A Divorced-more-times-than-one-can-count Sinner. She was a racial, gender, and moral outcast. Yet, Jesus saw right into her heart. He knew the pain of her life. He was tender with her. Yet he didn’t shy away from her own culpability. Instead he called her out and compassionately called her in too. And this woman, at the end of her rope, ended up convincing her whole town that Jesus must be the Messiah!
Sunday, May 17, 2020
The Man at the Pool - John 5:1-15
Chronic conditions can be emotionally paralyzing and spiritually debilitating. Meet a man who had spent 38 years beside a pool rumored to provide magical healing. A man, probably with no family and no job--a man on disability struggling for a sense of value and worth. Jesus, in a way that perhaps only Jesus can, compassionately calls him out: Do you want to get well? It was a moment for this guy to realize that he had already given up that desire to be made whole. He was merely existing. Then he met Jesus and everything changed.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Mary and Martha - John 11:1-46
Two sisters heartbroken by the death of their dear brother. They had been friends of Jesus’ for years. Jesus heard his friend, Lazarus, had one foot in the grave, and...he delayed showing up! What was he thinking? Martha was ready to give him an earful. Mary couldn’t do anything but weep. Jesus met them with truth and tears. They needed both.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Peter - John 21:1-25
If you feel like you’ve let Jesus down. If you feel like what you’ve done, what you’ve said, or where you’ve been, discounts you from having a conversation with Jesus, well, you are quite mistaken. Peter was always saying the wrong thing, and when Jesus needed his good friend most, where was Peter? Gone. Vanished. Told three people he didn’t even know the guy. Yet, a conversation with Jesus on the beach erased all of that. Peter was welcomed home to arms that were always wide open--embracing the world at the cross and embracing Peter over breakfast by the beach.