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Standing in the Resurrection
March 26, 1978

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

LUKE 24:13-35

Last week I came across the phrase, “standing in the resurrection”. I found it intriguing that the resurrection is something you can stand in, implying also that you can stand outside the resurrection and observe. The image that came into my mind was a shaft of light, a beam of light. You can stand in and experience light and feel the light, or you can choose to stand outside and watch, or choose to look the other way and not realize anything is going on. 

Two of the disciples were walking that Easter Sunday afternoon to Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were walking along discussing what had happened the last few days. A third man began to walk along with them and they began to talk with him and tell him about what had happened. He didn't seem to know about the crucifixion, but he began to interpret the scriptures and tell them about the predictions of God raising the Messiah from the dead. They walked all the way and that evening as they broke bread together, suddenly they realized to whom they had been speaking. They realized that it had been Jesus walking with them. Luke puts it this way in his gospel, “As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them. They saw him but did not recognize him.” They did not realize they were in the presence of Christ. They did not realize they had experienced the resurrection. They did not realize they could stand in the resurrection. I saw a cartoon of the story. Three men were walking along. The first man said to the other man, “Where is Jesus now that we need him?” And the third man had a pained expression on his face. They did not recognize him. 

The Easter event is a past historical event, an event that was predicted, an event that was witnessed by the disciples and many people of that time. God raised Jesus from the dead. The stone was rolled away. The women went to the grave. Easter was a past historical event where a real person, a real human being was raised from the dead. And this past historical event has future ramifications and repercussions for us. For this gives us our hope for the future. This gives us our hope that God's power will raise us from the dead. This gives us hope and certainty that there is a life after death. Our experience on this earth is not the end. There is hope, there is certainty. The past historical Easter event gives us certitude for the future. 

But the Easter event is more than just a past historical event, and it's more than a cause for hope for the future. Easter is a present reality. The power that raised Christ from the dead is still here, and can be experienced by you and me. There is opportunity for new beginnings. There is opportunity for new starts. There is opportunity for resurrection right here and now in our midst. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you and in me. It’s possible to stand in the resurrection because Jesus is alive. As the choir told you this morning, Jesus is alive! Standing in the resurrection is first of all, a matter of seeing, a matter of vision. Seeing is a matter of putting on the resurrection glasses. The disciples as they walked to Emmaus, didn't see him. They didn't recognize him and he was there all the time. And that's the point. The resurrection was there and they didn't see it. Look around to see. The shaft of light is here with new hope and new beginnings. Can you see it? Holy Week is always a hectic week in the church. We have so many services; there's so much to plan for. It's always a busy kind of harried week. This year was no exception. But this year was even even more harried because all of a sudden we had a lot of sickness in our church. A lot of people were ill this week. Problems of people seem to be increased this week. 

Easter seems to have a reverse effect on some people as they feel hopeless. The world is like that. The world is sometimes ugly, sometimes cruel. There are disappointments. There are heartaches. There is guilt. There's sorrow, anguish, sickness. But, in the midst of this world for he or she who have eyes to see, there is resurrection. There is the power of the resurrected Christ. There is that shaft of light in which we can stand. I saw evidence of the resurrection this past week— one vivid example of the resurrecting power of Christ. Walt Burkett is back in church this morning. There was healing this week. 

George Luck last week lost his eyesight while he was ushering. He couldn't see. He went to the doctor and found that he had blockage in a vein, and he had successful surgery to free up the blood so that it could run to the brain and perform its functions. It was a blessing in disguise that he had trouble with his eye. We saw the resurrection power of Christ at work in our midst. 

We held a Good Friday service in which we saw cooperation among the churches and the ministers of this town. We see unity in Manteca. That’s rare. It's great when we can experience and see unity among the people of God in our town. With a lot of competition, resentment and bitterness in many places, I see unity as resurrection power. I personally experienced refreshment this week—fellowship with friends, walking in the evening. How beautiful the sky was this past week, so clear, and the stars were beautiful. On every hand we see Christ at work, Jesus is alive! We can stand in the resurrection. 

Where did you see the resurrection in the last few days?  Standing in the resurrection is first of all a matter of seeing. And secondly, standing in the resurrection is a matter of choice. Moses gave us this word way back in the early pages of the Old Testament. Moses spoke to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19. The Lord says, “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God's blessing and God's curse, choose life.” The Revised Standard Version says, “See, I have set before you today life and death. Choose life.” You choose. We have been given the capacity and power to choose. Death in the Bible usually means separation. Death means to be separate from one another, to be separate from God, to be separate from ourselves. You may choose death, characterized by fear, guilt, physical death, characterized by all that would disrupt, disturb and prevent you from being what God made you to be. 

On the other hand, you may choose life, hope, concern, reaching out, eternity, life. Those are our choices. These choices confront us every day with countless opportunities through each day to choose life or death. We may choose to begin each day standing in the resurrection by giving the day to God, saying, “God, this is your day, the day you've made.” Commit your life to God, commit to God what happens today, pray that you may stand in the resurrection, pray that whatever happens today, you may be of service, pray that God and the Holy Spirit may work through you. Choose to begin each day with God and through the day, choose death or life. 

Two fables, two stories: The first one is about Roger. Roger was afraid other people wouldn't like him so instead of taking any chances, he decided to not like other people first. He began thinking of himself as a rubber stamp. When Roger met people for the first time, he would promptly bop them on the head with the palm of his hand and leave a big “Canceled” on their foreheads. But having canceled most people, Roger needed something to do to keep from feeling lonely. So he started canceling everything. Roger bopped trees, stores, houses, bicycles, fire hydrants, dogs, cats, automobiles, rocks. He even canceled Joey Kincaid’s pet fish. One day on Main Street in the dead of winter, Roger met Shirley. He bopped Shirley on the head just as she was about to say hello. But Shirley took a handkerchief, wiped away the “canceled” and bopped Roger back. Roger was frightened. He turned to see his reflection in the nearest store window. Shirley had stamped him with the word “special”. “Hey, you can't do that,” yelled Roger as he hit himself on the forehead and canceled out Shirley’s “special”. But, Shirley wiped the ink off Roger’s head and hit him with a fresh “special”. Roger canceled it and they went on and on, stamping and wiping, stamping and wiping. Roger and Shirley lived happily ever after. Sort of. 

The other fable is about a woman named Olive. Olive had two shopping bags. One was old and brown. In it she carried around words that would connect her with other people—words that would overcome separation, life words, words like care and share and I love you, words like warm and tender, life words. What are some other words she could have in her bag? What are some life words that connect us with other people—care, share and what else? What are some other life words? Feeling, receive, give. I bet you know the other kind of words better. 

On her other bag (this bag was white) was a picture of a big shoe. These carried words that shoot other people away. These were death words, words like No, I don't want to, I can't do that. What other words like that do you know? Get lost? Drop dead? She carried these bags around and would only use the words out of the brown bag—the life words—on special days like Christmas, birthdays or with people she wanted to impress. But the other words, the words in the white bag, the words that shoot other people away, she used readily. She used those words like darts, just ping, ping. Have you ever met anybody like that? Soon people would back away and leave her alone. Well, one day Olive was in a big store, carrying her two bags and the old brown bag got a rip in it. It started to fall apart and fell on the floor. All the connecting words fell out and immediately connected her with everybody in the store. It was just like Christmas or Easter. 

Jesus came to give us that kind of life. Jesus died that we might know life, the abundant life. Jesus was raised from the dead on Easter day to empower us with this kind of life, to empower us with eternal life—life that raises us into resurrection day by day with countless opportunities. Standing in the resurrection is possible for those who see and for those who choose life.

© 1978 Douglas I. Norris