YouTube video of Russian Meteor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90Omh7_I8vI)
Passage: Luke 24:36-48
We all have expectations about how life is going to go.
For instance, when I go to work in the morning, I expect the traffic to be pretty bad. When I go to a library, I expect it to be quiet. And if I find myself in Frankie & Bennie’s for lunch, I expect to feel a deep well of depression and resentment at paying ten pounds for a burger and chips. But that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles; that’s just how things go. Occasionally, however, something happens to pop those little bubbles of expectation; something happens to disrupt the patterns and cycles that we’re used to.
For example, you could be walking along the street, when suddenly this huge meteor comes crashing out of the sky, smashing into the floor, smashing windows in buildings and injuring hundreds of people. Sounds like a movie doesn’t it? But no, if you watch the news, this actually happened earlier this year in Russia…
Show meteor clip
…pretty unexpected, right? Ok, here’s another example. Imagine you’re in a room, much like this one, with a whole bunch of people, when suddenly this guy appears out of nowhere, who you know for a fact has died, but now he’s back…and he’s hungry! Sounds like a zombie movie, right? No, it’s actually today’s gospel reading…
Read the passage
…the shock of the unexpected hits the disciples with the force of a meteor.
And I’m not just talking about the obvious thing here: they’ve got a guy with them who’s just come back from the dead. That’s pretty shocking. But there’s something else. Jesus ‘opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures’.
By this point, the disciples had already realised that Jesus was the “messiah”. Messiah is an ancient Hebrew word meaning ‘anointed one’. The question is, anointed to do what?
There were a lot of expectations among Jewish people about exactly who the messiah would be and what he would do.. One of the most popular beliefs at that time was that he would be a military leader, who would lead the Jews to victory over their enemies (at that time, the Romans) and set up a Jewish kingdom.
But Jesus brought an entirely different understanding of the role of the messiah. Yes, he was going to lead them to victory and establish a kingdom, but this wasn’t a victory and a kingdom just for the Jews – it was for anyone who wanted in on it.
And yes, he was there to defeat their enemies, but the enemies he came to defeat weren’t the Romans, but death and evil itself.
And the way he was going to do that wasn’t by raising an army, but by laying down his life and sacrificing himself.
Imagine being a disciple hearing this for the first time having grown up with all these expectations. Jesus just comes along, takes their old understanding of how things work and goes ‘pop’
And it’s not just Jesus – there are so many examples like this throughout the bible, not of God changing his mind, but of our understanding of him changing and developing.
There’s this word in today’s passage, ‘repentance’. ‘Repent’ is a word chosen by the English translators to represent the ancient Greek word which appears in the original texts: ‘metanoia’. ‘Meta’ meaning ‘to change’, like metamorphosis, and ‘noia’ meaning ‘mind’. To change your mind.
How open are we to letting God change our minds about the way we think life works, and the way we think he works? Are there places in our own lives where we need God’s help to change the way we think about things?
Are there routines, patterns, cycles of behaviour that we know aren’t good for us or maybe hurt others, but we feel trapped in them? Maybe we do them so often, we don’t even think about it anymore. Are there things like this in our own lives that we need God’s help to break free from?
You can always get a fresh start. You can have the slate wiped clean. Because that’s the resurrection life.
To me the resurrection isn’t just a miraculous event that took place 2000 years ago. It’s a way of being. You can always put an end to the bad habits, those old cycles that trap you, and embrace a new life.
Because the past doesn’t define the future. YOUR past doesn’t define your future.
Expect the unexpected!
The Prayer Stations that followed this talk are: