Lost and Found…
April 7, 2015
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” -John 20:19-23
Alyce (our office receptionist and bookkeeper) likes to make fun of me! Apparently I can be a little bit forgetful and often, when I am headed out for a lunch appointment or to go home for the day, I will have to return to find my keys, my cell phone or even my wallet. Now, this is not anything new. I’m sure it’s not the sign of early on-set Alzheimer’s, instead I am sure it is simply the nature of distracted mind and my getting in a hurry. But fortunately I have learned how to deal with it for I’ve been dealing with it most of my life.
Like many of you, when I find that I have “misplaced” an item, the first thing I do (besides grumble about my stupidity) is go to the last place I remember having that item firmly in my possession. Most of the time, it is laying there contentedly waiting for me, hence my frequent return trips to the office!
You know, I wonder if the disciples had learned a similar discipline. When Christ was not with them, when they were feeling lost, they went to the last place they had been with Him in a meaningful way… the upper room. Indeed, a week later, Peter took that idea even further and went fishing… the place where he had first encountered Christ and had been called to become a “Fisher of men”. And whether or not they had learned this from experience, they were practicing a form of an important spiritual discipline… repentance.
Now, my friends who are spiritual directors are probably scratching their heads right now, but bear with me. Repentance is simply turning from that which has caused you to be “lost” to that which is right…or in another form to return to that place where you had found a renewed relationship with Christ and begin again. And while we generally talk about it being a spiritual act, sometimes the physical act of returning to a point of encounter is quite beneficial. Indeed, that might be a better way to think of the C&E Christian phenomenon… not their lack of commitment during the rest of the year but their desire to return to a place that has been significant in their personal relationship with Christ. Most of us are skeptical of those semi-annual visits doing much in the lives of these people, don’t sell Christ short. Sometimes a new fire is lit in the hearts of these people. Likewise, for we who are more regular in worship, from time to time, it is also important for us to return to those “holy” places in our lives, especially if we find ourselves feeling distant from Christ.
When we do, sometimes, by the grace of God alone, Christ is there. But don’t expect the warm fuzzies , a hug and kiss and Him saying “All is well” when you do encounter Him there!
When the disciples encountered Jesus, they got the hug and kiss… the affirmation, but they also received a new challenge to live life differently…. a charge to be not just His disciples, but to be His presence in the lives of others and to set those who are captive to sin free. However his charge is not easy, the alternative is unacceptable -to live life distant from the one who loved us enough to die for us.
Prayer: Lord, help me to return to the place where I can encounter you anew. Help me to accept the call you give to be a witness for you and to serve others. Help me to be the person you have called me to be. Amen.
(Steve & Deb on vacation)
Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran
ABCRM Executive Minister