The Second Sunday of Easter

I laughed. I read it on Twitter. It must be true. I saw the photo. Seeing is believing.

A woman was flying from Melbourne to Brisbane when the plane was unexpectedly diverted to Sydney. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes. Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The passengers could see her Guide Dog lying quietly underneath the seats in front of her. The lady seemed very familiar with this flight and even some of the crew. The pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, “Kathy, we are in Sydney for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?” The blind lady replied, “No thanks but maybe Max would like to stretch his legs”. And that was the accompanying picture – of a pilot in sunglasses walking off the plane with a guide dog! Apparently many of the passengers tried to change their flight!

I laughed. The ‘moral’ of the tweet was that ‘things aren’t always as they appear’!

And that comment is part of my world! My world and the tools I use as a pastor – words grounded in a book, water, bread and wine – seem so ordinary and commonplace and yet I use them under instruction and with the belief that Jesus is present and active through them. There is a lot more to those words, water, bread and wine than appears before our eyes and ears!

Conversely people have told me that they will believe in Jesus if they see him. I accept that the sentiment is genuine but often it is not thought through. How will they know that what they are seeing is reality and not a trick? Precisely because things aren’t always as they appear, how will they know that what they see, if they saw Jesus, is true? Maybe a person might believe if they saw Jesus but I think most people will want to corroborate their experience somehow and for that they will use words. Perhaps they will ask Jesus questions? (How will they assess his answers?) Perhaps they will rely on the experience of the moment? (What happens in later years should they start questioning the experience itself, reinterpreting it?) My point is that if it takes words to corroborate their experience then if those words are true, they are true without the experience! In other words, you don’t need to see to believe. In fact the opposite is true, believing is seeing!

And that is why Christians can seem so weird to the world. They can go through the same things as everyone does – we can see this! – Christians can be rich or poor, have happy marriages or divorce, get cancer, and win awards – just like everyone else. They go to hospital – to work and get better. They have wrong done to them and they do wrong to others. We can see all this. But there is also something else – a routine, a pattern, sometimes there is a stop and start – of going to worship, of reading and hearing certain words, of returning in heart and mind to the water of their Baptism, and receiving bread and wine at Holy Communion – and they don’t see Jesus either! – but they do all this because Jesus comes to them, because Jesus died for them, because Jesus is risen for them, because Jesus is with them, and he makes their life one they want to live – with him! And maybe their life makes some sense to others or it is as strange as a pilot with a guide dog but by the light of an empty tomb, life with Jesus is always more than – better than – it appears!