IF CLAUSES

April 12, 2015
Bible Text: Luke 24:1-35 | Preacher: Rev. Feras Shammas Different people describe life differently, but no one will disagree that it’s anything but perfect. We all believe life can be better if we do this or that or if this thing or that thing can take place. In any given day, the idea of changing things occurs to us more than once. We would often say to ourselves: “if only this or that can happen, things can look much better.” Usually, when we need to fly somewhere, we chose an airline that we can trust & afford. However, when we need to go somewhere in our minds we usually start by using what they call “if clauses” or “conditional clauses”. “If clauses” can help us to start to imagine the change we want to see so we can work on it. In this sense, “if clauses” can help us see the things that can’t be seen to the naked eye. Or they can help us see the turns our life needs to be taking. “If clauses” are very powerful; they give us the energy to explore possibilities beyond our immediate context. + Today is the 2ed Sunday of Easter. Easter is a very special time for church people. It’s the corner stone of our faith. We believe nothing happens without this belief. Jesus resurrection from the dead is what makes us who we are: “Easter people”. But as we came here last week & we exchanged the Easter wishes with each other, and as we do this almost every year, we are aware the world around us does not share with us the faith in the resurrected Christ. I think it’s fair to say that many people in this world don’t see the resurrection happening because it’s not seen to the naked eye. The world does not share our faith in the empty tomb because it does not exist in its immediate context. I wonder if I can invite you today to see what can’t be see & explore beyond where we’d normally stop by using our “if clauses”. I wonder how we’d we chose to finish the sentence that starts by saying: “If Jesus was risen …” Allow me this morning to suggest 3 answers for the sentence that starts: If Jesus is resin (what will happen?) + Let us start: +(S) If Jesus is risen…you will not come for anointment, rather you will come for testimony. It was the custom in the Middle East to put spices to the dead bodies. Usually they would do that before burial, but in Jesus’ case they couldn’t because they had to bring him down from the cross & bury him quickly before the Sabbath starts. In the Jewish law, if the Sabbath starts while you are impure because you have touched a dead body, you will be looking at a difficult week until the next Sabbath. So, early in the morning, dawn time, some ladies (mother of Jesus accompanied by family & friends) went to the tomb to anoint Jesus. - But Jesus was risen; he was not there. - When the ladies found out that the stone was rolled away, & did not find the body in the tomb & were told by the angels that Jesus was risen as he had foretold them, who would care about the spices & the ointment anymore! Spices were expensive & hard to get, but who would care for them anymore when Jesus was risen? The angels asked Merry & her company to go & tell his disciples about that. - When these ladies left their houses early in the morning, while it was still dark, they had an assignment in their minds (they had something to do). - They had to anoint the dead body, but when they left the tomb they had a totally different mission: they are to tell Jesus friends that he is not dead (he is risen) There is no way to compare the two things: the first is so painful & sad (a mother anointing her dead son). The second is bringing the good news to those people. What would you chose? Years ago, in winter time, I had to take the train to get to my school. Many details of those mornings made me to remember Mary & the ladies who went with her for Jesus anointment. We had to be in the station early in the morning while it was still dark, and of course it was bitterly cold. Only one look at some people’s faces was enough to tell you how unhappy they were to be there at that hour going to their work. Mary & her friends were not super happy about their mission that morning. - If Jesus is not risen in our life, we will not be happy with our life mission. - We will be probably busy doing things that we will get tired from soon. - Those who came to anoint a dead body left with a mission (with a transforming mission) they were to bring good news to the people (what can be better?). In what sense are we anointing dead bodies in your life? Do we want to have a real mission? Listen to this: Jesus is risen indeed & this can change your life. - According to some articles which I came through when I was looking to learn more about “if clauses”: The first thing you have to do if you win the lottery, is to stay anonymous. - But if Jesus is risen, go for a testimony (for a new mission; not an old one like anointing dead bodies). +(S) The second answer: if Jesus is risen, you will not look for the living among the dead? When the angels met the ladies in the empty tomb they asked them: ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is the lord of life, death couldn’t hold him. Death is the power of nothing; Jesus is the lord of the creation (he is the Lord of every living thing). Death did not have the last word in Jesus story; life did because Jesus is the life. The angels asked the ladies a very big question: ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Have we ever done that? Have we looked for the living among the dead? - We don’t need to buy spices & leave our houses at dawn, while it is still dark, to be looking for the living among the dead. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian novelist who is considered one of the most significant authors of our times, was asked where he gets his stories from. He said: “I go to the poor streets of Mexico city; if you go to Avenue Foch (a street in Paris) you will get nothing” and then he said: “do not look for the living among the dead” - Avenue Foch is one of the most expensive & prestigious addresses in the world. - Of course we are not judging the people who live in that Avenue or in any other one, but the point is that life is not found where we usually expect it. - The world’s compass can be misleading. - Too many people look for life where it is not found. - I think each one of us has to ask his or her self: where am I looking for life? - Are we looking for life among the dead? Do you remember the story of the Samaritan women? She was looking for water (water is life), but Jesus told here you need to ask me for the living water. We go out for water every day (for life in different forms), Jesus tells us you need to ask me for the living water. We don’t need to be looking for the life among the dead, Jesus is the life; he’d gladly give it to us. - If Jesus is risen you will not look for life among the dead! + (S) If Jesus is risen in your life, you will not go to Emmaus. When the people who accompanied Jesus heard that he was dead, they started to go back to where they came from. People went back to their cities & villages. They thought…..it is over. They thought that the beautiful & promising story has ended in a bad way. Two of the disciples went back to their village called Emmaus. The risen Christ met, explained to them what happened & broke bread with them. Jesus made himself known in the road of Emmaus. Their eyes were opened & they came to understand that Jesus has risen indeed. Once they embraced that, they went again to Jerusalem. Most of the people have a faith story in their life, but this story comes to an end at some time. Some of the stories end in a bad way, others just give up on their faith. When our faith stories come to an end we go back to Emmaus. It is a sad & unfortunate trip. There is a heavy traffic on the road to Emmaus. Many people think that faith stories are over & they don’t make sense any more. The risen Lord is on that road all the time: meeting people, explaining to them & even breaking bread; making himself known to them in mysterious ways. Some people have their eyes opened, others not. Did I say that “most of the people have a faith story in their life”? Well, I should have said also “all of us have faith stories that had sore ends”. - If our eyes were opened, we will change our way. If our eyes were opened, we will go to Jerusalem. - Emmaus is the way out (is the way of giving up), the way to Jerusalem is the way in (the way of keeping on). - We take the road to Emmaus when our faith candle is put off; we take the road to Jerusalem when our faith candle is kindled again. - Usually, in the bible there are two famous roads: the narrow & the wide roads. Well I think we should be remembering these two roads too: Emmaus & Jerusalem. - The resurrection is an excellent opportunity for us to have our eyes opened. If Christ is risen in our life we will not go in the road to Emmaus, we will go in the road to Jerusalem. Biblically & theological, going to Jerusalem is going up. Jerusalem is seen as the roof of the world, the top point of the world & for a good reason. The Israeli air lines are called ALLIA, which means going up because they land in Jerusalem. Every road is a downhill road if you compare it with going up to Jerusalem. If Jesus is risen you will go from the valley to the top of the mountain. + Yes, life is anything but perfect. Certain things have to happen for it to change. If Jesus is risen in our life, this change will take place We will not come for anointment, rather you will come for testimony We will not look for the living among the dead We you will not go to Emmaus Feras Chamas April 12, 2015 Chesterville Winchester Morewood