Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday, Year A, Matthew 28:16-20
“When they saw him,”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…
Friday was the last day of school for most of the kids around here. It was the last day of school for my kids anyway… Last day to set our alarms to get up for school. Last day of making our lunches the night before… Last day of picking out our clothes beforehand… Last day… And because of that, our family was able to travel to the center of the state to get a chicken coop. It was all very exciting because when you buy something on Craigslist and make an agreement over the phone before you’ve seen the actual product, you never really know what you might find at the end of a long trip.
But we packed up the kids and hit the road. Based on the conversation on the phone, we suspected that the coop was made by an Amish family. This offered us lots of discussions as we traveled there. There were many questions about the Amish people and about Amish culture. Questions about language and religion and lifestyle.
“Do they have horses, Mom?”
“Do they go to school, Mom?”
“But Dad, if they don’t use technology, then how did they put the add on Craigslist?”
“Can we become Amish, Dad?”
The closer and closer we got to our destination the more glimpses we had about Amish life. We were all very excited about all of the farms and farm animals.
More questions came… Jodi spent a significant portion of our trip using her phone to “google” questions that came up…. Until there was no more cell service.
Once the cell service was gone, we were on our own.
Finally, after almost 3 hours of driving, we arrived at the address.
We knew we had the right place because our chicken coop was on the side of the road. We pulled into the driveway and there were a number of boys and girls running around. Some were playing, some were working… As I walked up to the house we asked for Richard.
He was our contact.
“Hello. Is Richard here? We’re here for our chicken coop.”
“Oh. He said somebody was coming. He isn’t here though. He left about a half hour ago.”
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll just go give him a call.”
It was at this time that I started to have a lot of questions of my own.
“What do you mean he’s not here? How am I going to call him? We don’t have cell service. And how DOES Richard have a cell phone? I thought the Amish didn’t use phones. Would this all be just a giant waste of time?”
I went back to the car, sat down and decided I had better just take a deep breath. The kids were out of the car already, playing with the children that lived there.
And though the questions kept coming, I began to relax a bit and enjoy the moment.
That farm was a mystical place. Young children driving a team of enormous horses to cut the grass… ponies walking around unfenced… Rabbits, chickens, dogs, kittens, cows, and barns.
And I waited… We waited… I hadn’t *waited* in a long time… for anything.
I waited for a good 45 minutes.
Eventually, Richard did arrive. He and the father of the family had gone fishing. Can’t really fault them for that, can I? It was a good thing that he did arrive. I was able to put the rest of the pieces together. He was the broker for the Amish family. He ran the communications and the family built the coops. It was a nice arrangement for them all. Lucky for us, they all pitched in and got the coop on the trailer.
I tell you this story because of the gospel for today. As I read it this week, I tried to put myself into the story. I tried to imagine what it could have been like to be right there with the disciples. Right there as the disciples walked to Galilee. Right there with Jesus on the mountain. And Matthew’s gospel doesn’t say very much about the Resurrection at all. So it allows us to use our imaginations a lot. In fact, the 28th chapter, the last chapter in Matthew, is only three paragraphs long.
The first paragraph is about the two Marys coming to the empty tomb. The gardener tells them Jesus is not there but that Jesus is on his way to Galilee.
As they are running back to tell the other disciples, Jesus miraculously appears to the women and tells them not to be afraid and that they should tell the other disciples to meet him in Galilee.
The next paragraph, the second paragraph in chapter 28, is about the guards who were placed at the tomb. The author wants us to know that the authorities had paid the guards to lie and say that Jesus had not been resurrected, but instead that the disciples had stolen the body and taken it elsewhere.
And this final paragraph, our gospel text for today briefly describes the disciples’ response to Jesus’ request to meet him in Galilee.
And this got me thinking. About traveling and expectation and waiting. About remembering.
The text says they arrive at the mountain where Jesus had told them to meet. I wonder what the trip would have been like. It would have been quite a distance for them to go to Galilee. To go back to the place where it all started. Where Jesus had called the first disciples way back in chapter 4. Where he began his ministry of teaching and healing. Back to a time when Jesus and the disciples were a part of amazing things. A time before things went terribly wrong. A time before Jesus endured the cross…
I wonder what would they have been thinking about on that journey. No doubt, they had a lot of processing to do.
I wonder who was the most talkative. Which disciple did they all want to avoid walking next to? Which of them packed the best food? Who forgot to bring any food at all? Which of them tried to put the pieces together in a nice neat package? Who was the most skeptical of it all? Who was jaded? Who was overwhelmed and quiet? Which of the disciples was still intent on violence against the Romans and other authorities? All of these questions about the story. No “Google” to help us out.
And when the waiting is over… and they see Jesus, things do get a little weird.
They begin to worship their friend. The friend they fished with… ate with… argued with… The same friend that they misunderstood and misrepresented… They see Jesus in a way that they had not seen him before.
For the first time…They recognize his Divinity.
And Jesus responds and gives them the Trinitarian blessing.
He tells them to leave Galilee and tell everybody this whole crazy story and to baptize people who want to be a part of it in the name of GOD: Father Son and Holy Spirit and to teach them about the Kingdom of God.
In asking them to meet him in Galilee, he asks them to remember the beginning.
Remember how things started.
Remember how you were initiated into this story.
And maybe that is the lesson for us today. As we reflect at the end of our day. As we reflect on the past few weeks and months. As we reflect on the span of our entire lives…
Remember on Trinity Sunday that you were baptized in the name of the Trinity.
Baptized into the Trinity.
And as you may be waiting for news from the doctor… Remember…
As you wait for summer visitors to arrive… friends and family… Remember.
As you wait for the birth of a grandchild… or for a special anniversary… Remember.
As you wait for a family conflict to stabilize… Remember…
Remember your baptism…
Remember you have been set apart… that you are Holy.
Remember that you are image bearers of pure goodness.
Image bearers of the Divine.
And remember…. That in this time of waiting… between your baptism and your death… that you are called to go and tell others about a God who is goodness.
To invite others to join in on the teachings of Jesus which offer hope for the poor and the marginalized. Hope for the oppressed and all those who feel displaced. Hope for any who finds themselves at a place in life where a new reality has caused a life crisis.
To be agents of Justice, not justice as the world commands which promotes retribution, but kingdom justice which commands reconciliation.
So rest when you can. Rest when you need to. We are called to be disciples and that will take great strength and endurance.
Because We are traveling together to see the Risen Christ… We are waiting to see what God will do and remembering how we are called into that reality.
And we are remembering that Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age.