Sermon for Easter 3, Year B

People have asked Cassie a lot in the past weeks, “Can you believe its been x days since the baby was born?”

    To which she responds, “I haven’t had x days, I’ve had one long very long day.”
    This morning is our third week of that first Easter Day, it has been one long and one very good day.
    Two weeks ago, when we first heard the story of resurrection by way of an empty tomb, I argued that God is in the business of rolling stones away.  Does that ring a bell?  Saying that God is in the business of rolling stones away is a clever Easter-y way of saying that God opens doors.  God is in the business of opening things up, and He does so in two very different ways.
    The first way God opens doors can be thought of quite literally, like opening the tomb.  The Greek word for this type of opening is Anoigo and is used by Luke seven times in his gospel, all in the first thirteen chapters, mostly in parables by Jesus about entrance into the kingdom of God.  The other side of this type of opening, which is clear in Jesus’ parables, is that sometimes God closes doors.  We experience this type of opening all the time, one door opens and another closes. The work, then of followers of Christ is to discern in community what doors are opened and what doors are closed.
    In January of 2001 I had one of those life changing moments – deciding where to spend my spring break.  The door that seemed open to me had me spending my spring break in Germany. A good friend of mine from High School was studying abroad in Munich that year, and she invited me to spend a week enjoying all the sites and sounds I had missed during my first trip there in 11th grade. I was working and saving and planning in order to walk through that door, but for some reason, and I can’t even remember why, it shut. I was disappointed, but within a few weeks I found a new opening, and ended up spending spring break in Pittsburgh where I met Cassie for the first time. One door closed, but another door – a much much better door was wide open.
    Decisions about where to spend spring break aside, the work of discerning the real choices in life is difficult.  Knowing which doors are really open and which are really closed is often hard to really know.  We can spend a whole lot of time forcing doors opened that are, in reality, closed.  It requires the help of prayer, scripture, and the community of the faithful to test and retest our intuitions, but it is fruitful work; be it a new job, a new relationship, a college decision, what-have-you, finding the opened door is infinitely more rewarding and ultimately a whole lot easier that pushing your way through a door that is closed.
    But, as I said, God opens things up in two ways.  A couple of weeks ago, one of our EYC kids asked me, “do you think Eliza June is going to negatively affect your preaching?”  I didn’t really have an answer, but I thought to myself, “yeah, for a while, Eliza might affect my preaching.”  I learned this week, as I prepared through bleary eyes and prayed while trying to not fall asleep that perhaps the self-sufficient way in which I prepare sermons might be closing.  So on Monday I reached out for help and set my facebook status and asked my online friends for help.  A door opened at 1:30pm that afternoon when John Talbert called me and said, “I’ve got something that might help your sermon.”
    He pointed out that when Jesus opens the minds of his disciples, he does something different Anoigo opening; He opens them such that they might be closed again, and then he opens things by dividing them in two, or to use that great line from the marriage ceremony, to put asunder.  This type of opening, dianoigo in Greek, happens once and that which is opened remains that way forever.  This particular type of opening, Luke only describes four times in his gospel, three of which come in chapter 24 in post-resurrection stories.
    In our Collect for Today there is a clear reference made to the well-known story of Jesus’ encounter with Clopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus.  After their long walk and talk Cleopas and his friend still did not recognize Jesus.  It was getting late, so the disciples invited the stranger they thought they were walking with to have dinner with them, and he obliged.  He took some bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and as he gave it to them, their eyes were opened, dianoigo, and they recognized Jesus.
    Their eyes were opened, and would never again be closed.
    In the gospel lesson for today, we hear of Jesus appearing in the middle of the room while the disciples were still discussing the crazy events of that first Easter Day – a room filled with fear and trembling.  After once again explaining to them the story of salvation; from the law of Moses to the Psalms to every word of the prophets pointed to him and the work he had done on the cross, Luke tells us he opened, dianoigo, their minds.  He ripped apart the old understanding they had carried for so long, and replaced it with a new understanding, and they would never again misunderstand his message and his mission.
    Jesus blew their minds, (hand gesture of mind blowing) and replaced it with the knowledge that he was the anointed one of God and he had risen from the dead to give new life through repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
    The funny thing about mind blowing experiences is that it often takes quite a while to figure out what actually happened.  We stand, slack-jawed, awe-struck, dumb-founded for some time trying to put words around the amazing events that took place.
    It will take the disciples 50 days for the disciples to figure out what this new knowledge means.  It will require the help of the Holy Spirit to turn spinning thoughts into concrete actions, to turn gibberish into words for all nations to hear, but as evening drew near on that first Easter Day the disciples gathered together in awe would finally open their minds to the plan Jesus had been trying to tell them all along.
    We prayed just a few minutes ago that God would open, dianoigo, the eyes of our faith.  This is one of those “be careful what you pray for” prayers.  Are you willing to have your eyes open to the will of God so that they can never be closed again?  Are you ready to see the pain and the heartbreak that God sees every day?  Are you capable of the compassion required to see with the eyes of God?  Do you want to see Christ in all persons, even your nosy neighbor or your annoying boss or your worst enemy?
    God is in the business of rolling back stones and leading us along the path of his desires.  In the resurrection, God is also in the business of blowing our eyes and our ears and our minds wide open so that we see and hear and know only as a part of the body of Christ.  Are you ready to have that kind of life changing experience?  Be careful what you pray for, it might just happen.

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