Theologically, I have to defer to one of my pastors who told us a few Sunday’s ago that Jesus reveals himself to each one of us in different ways. We all experience the saving power and wondrous deeds of the Lord in different ways. We also experience God’s kindness and faithfulness differently. So when we are looking for Jesus, we will find him in different ways also. The most important thing, he told us, is to ask Jesus to be in our midst. If we do, he will be there. Not just so we can see him. He will be there to guide us and lead us. The resurrection isn’t just about Jesus rising from the dead. It is about Jesus always being with us and meeting our needs.
That sermon got me to thinking about what is it that I need from Jesus that requires him to always be with me. Let’s get practical here. That’s where I have to defer to the Amish. It is always so straightforward for them. They recognize that they need Jesus to always be with them to keep their heads and hearts focused on loving God and each other. They try to live their lives as if Jesus is always in their midst creating a more loving community. It is in that community that they individually experience the kindness and faithfulness of God. They grieve the death and dying of Jesus but they are ever grateful and joyful because they know Jesus is in their midst.
Most of us don’t experience our faith that way. We all experience the individual longings for Jesus to be in our midst but we don’t all live in communities that reinforce our faith with daily practices of love and sacrifice for others. In fact, we too often live in the midst of injustices, selfishness, and insecurities. And we feel so often alone in the midst of it all. Jesus comes into our midst if we ask, yes, but it is much easier to trust that he is with us if we are in a community that shares that experience through daily interaction of love and kindness toward each other. That’s what I heard from another pastor last week. She reminded us that if you want to know that Jesus is with you, cultivate relationships of caring with other people who know how to share Christ’s peace, love, and joy in practical ways.
It is a lot easier for the Amish to experience Jesus in their midst because of the way they live. One of my Amish friends, a bishop, told me once that the Amish didn’t think any less of Catholics and Lutherans because we worshipped differently. The main difference they see between us and them is how we live. He said he thought we could live Godly lives just like they try to live if we would just stick together. So I am left pondering these questions. If Christ appears to us all differently and we all experience Christ differently, then how do we experience Christ in our midst? I know that the sacrament of Holy Communion binds us together in Christian community but it has to be more than what happens on Sunday or just in church. We have to live rituals of forgiveness and renewal of the bonds of love in all of our interactions throughout the week. So this Easter season, I am praying that I can live my life in such a way that Christ is revealed in my words and actions. Alleluia!
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