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    Apr 30, 2017

    An Idle Tale?

    Passage: Luke 24:1-12

    Speaker: Michael E. Karunas

    Series: God

    Category: Faith

    Sermon Delivered at Central Christian Church April 30, 2017 Rev. Michael E. Karunas Text: Luke 24:1-12

    After Jesus rose from the tomb, he appeared to many people.  Though he appeared to each one differently, this changed them all.  They were not the same people after meeting the risen Jesus Christ as they were before.  In our current sermon series – entitled “Easter Changes Everything” – we are looking at how Jesus made those appearances and how it changed the people involved.  Last week we saw that the disciple Thomas had a defining moment when he met Jesus and saw the wounds in his hands and feet.  Today we meet a few more people who were changed by Easter, though not all at the same time.  (Read Luke 24:1-12)

    A handful of women come to the tomb on the morning of the first Easter to anoint Jesus’ body.  The law stated that a person who died must be buried before sundown of that day.  But since Jesus died later in the day, there wasn’t time to anoint his body properly for burial.  Anointing meant covering the body in fragrant oils.  In these cases, the Law allowed a body to be buried twice: once, quickly, so that it would not be out in the open after sundown, and then the second burial after the body had been properly anointed.  This is what the women were doing – preparing Jesus’ body for his final burial.

    When they get to the tomb, they discover that it is empty and they meet two men (who are meant to be angels – messengers from God).  They tell the women that Jesus is not dead but raised and alive again.  And the women believe it!  They go immediately to tell the disciples this Good News, which is what they were told to do by the angels.  But the disciples do not believe the women – at least not right away.  And I wonder if the reason has something to do with a difference between doing “work” and doing “chores.”

    On the one hand, “chore” is a kind of work and in that sense they are similar.  But I wonder if there’s not more of a distinction between them.  Work, for example, is something we choose to do.  Sure, we may say that we have to work, but ultimately if we have to work it’s only to gain some greater good we desire.  We work because we want income, for example, which allows us to provide for our loved ones and have the things that make us happy, comfortable and safe.  These are all things we want.  Or we work because this brings us meaning and fulfillment in life, which we want.  Or we want to work because this is what we believe it means to be a contributing member of society.  In all of these explanations, working is still a choice we make because it is a means to some end that we want.

    Work is also something we are more likely to associate with compensation.   When we do “work,” we expect to be paid for it.

    But I wonder if chores are different?  If chores are really what we have to do?  I would suggest that chores are not as glamorous and are not as readily considered to be part of the way we construct meaning in life.  When we are asked as children ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ we say things like, “Doctor, Scientist, Teacher, Astronaut.”  We don’t say “I want to do chores when I'm older.”  Though we may get an allowance for doing them, chores are often not compensated.  Rather, we do chores out of duty and obligation and responsibility.  Chores do aid to our overall comfort.   We’d all probably prefer something that is clean to something that is dirty.  But cleaning that something is a chore; an ordinary and menial thing that is noticed more when it is not done than when it is.  We notice something that is dirty far more than we appreciate something that is clean.

    In this scenario, I find it especially meaningful that the women discovered Jesus to be resurrected from the tomb in the midst of doing “chores.”  They would not have discovered the tomb to be empty had they not gone to anoint the body.  And anointing a body for burial was a chore – a duty, an obligation, a responsibility.  The women were not going to anoint Jesus’ body because he was Jesus, but because he was deceased and that was simply what you did for the deceased.  You anointed them.  And you buried them.  Now, they may have been prepared to anoint his body with greater love and devotion than for a stranger.  But the act of anointing was a normal, ordinary, simple, chore-like activity.

     There are four Gospels in the New Testament and all of them tell the story of Easter.  But each one tells the story a bit differently.  A different version of the same story.  In Matthew’s version, for example (which we heard two weeks ago), the same women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.  But when they get there, there’s lightning, an earthquake and the soldiers guarding the tomb pass out like dead men.  Big, sensational, literally earth-moving things are happening.  In today’s telling of the same story, from Luke, there’s no earthquake, no lightning, and soldiers aren’t even mentioned.  Each Gospel tells a different version of the story for a reason – to emphasize a different side of our relationship with God.

     Matthew reminds us that the Good News of God’s salvation sometimes comes to us in grand and sensational ways – with earthquakes and lightning strikes and angels descending from heaven and mortals overwhelmed and passing out.  But sometimes, as Luke reminds us, we meet the risen Christ in the simple tasks that we undertake on a daily basis – the dutiful things we do because that’s what it means to be a responsible, dependable person in our family and community.  Last week, Tina said in her sermon that sometimes God’s defining moments are quiet and come to us through our regular daily experiences.  That’s also Good News.

     Because most of the things we do in life are ordinary and pretty regular.  To meet the risen Jesus Christ – who lives among us today – is not doing different things.  It’s doing the very things we do now… just differently.  With greater openness and awareness, recognizing that they can be the very moments God chooses to be our defining ones.  To be the “Aha” event where the risen Jesus Christ appears to us clearest and strongest.

    The mystery of this story of Easter, as told by Luke, is “Why didn’t the disciples believe the women?”  All evidence points to the fact that they should have!  I don’t know the answer for sure.  But I believe it has something to do with the fact that they represent the part of us that wants the earthquake and lightning bolt to announce God’s revelation.  They just couldn’t believe the women, because they couldn’t believe God could show up in such an ordinary way to such otherwise ordinary people.  But they also serve as a reminder to us not to overlook the ordinary, normal and routine things we do on a daily basis – the chore-like things we do day in and day out.  They can be just as important.  And God can just as easily be using them to speak the strong word of salvation to us.

    Question for Reflection:

    As we prepare for communion today, and as we prepare to leave this place and move out into this coming week, we invite you to be in prayer and reflection about this question:

    Whose voice do you typically discount or disregard in your life?  Is it a voice close to home?  At work?  Out in the media?  Ask yourself: How might God be using them to communicate his Word to you?

    What are the chore-like activities you do on a daily or weekly basis?  What do you dread doing throughout the day and week?  Ask yourself: What might God be revealed to you through them that can draw you closer to him?