This is a hard time to be a Christian. I’m not referring at this moment to living in 2018, but rather to living in these first days and weeks after Easter. It’s hard to make sense of these post-Easter appearances of Jesus we’ve been hearing about, and if it’s hard for us who believe we know the whole story, imagine what it must have been like for those who lived through those moments first hand. Jesus was crucified, he died a brutal death on a cross. Not all of his disciples witnessed it, but some of them did, and they would have told the others. Jesus died. Their friend Joseph, with some help, laid Jesus’ body in a tomb. But two days later, on the morning after the sabbath, when the women went to properly anoint the body they discovered it was gone. That was only the beginning. People began seeing Jesus, except time and again, they didn’t initially recognize, or believe, that’s who it was. It reminds me of an experience I had with Zack almost seventeen years ago.
It is not different for us today. We are in the midst of fear, anxieties, and worries, which may be legion. There are many things of which to be afraid in this life. Internal and external fears abound. And in the midst of all that fear is the place where Jesus comes and says Peace be with you. Whatever fear-filled locked rooms we have put ourselves in, or been put in, Jesus shows up, offering us peace.
Darkness and light are two important themes throughout John’s Gospel. From the very first chapter until the last, John talks a lot about darkness and light. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and what came into being from him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it. The Gospel goes on to tell us that John the Baptist was sent as a witness to the light.
Like the people gathered around a campfire, we heard this story tonight around this flame. But unlike the campfire of our childhood, they are not ghost stories, although the story about Ezekiel and the dry bones might have felt a bit like one. But rather, these are sacred stories, our sacred story, stories about liberation and love and life.