Friday, April 6, 2012

Where in the world is Jesus Christ?

Two Sundays ago I preached on "faith-full, fear-less" servanthood, with the key scriptural passage being:

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. - John 12:26, NASB
As I look out over both our congregation seated in the pews on Sunday morning and on the world at large, this statement of Jesus echoes in my mind: "where I am, there my servant will be also." When I was younger, there was both a PBS television series and a series of computer games with the title "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" The series still exists today. The idea was to "track" Carmen Sandiego across the world, finding out about the various places she visited and attempting to catch her. As they current site history notes, the games were designed to stimulate interest in "geography, world cultures, astronomy and history."

It occurred to me as I was preparing, preaching, and reflecting on the sermon that if it is indeed true that as servants of Christ we are called to be where Jesus is, the question becomes: "Where in the world is Jesus?" While devoutly praying that there will not be a television series nor computer games with this theme, that question is one that need to continually ask as Christians.

Garden of Gethsemane
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus is with his disciples in the upper room eating the (early) Passover Meal, then later in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he is arrested and led through a long night of questions and confrontations. Today, on Good Friday, he is brought before Pontius Pilate and, at the urging of the crowd, condemned to death on a cross. We believe that somehow that death on the cross completed and solidified the bond between the human and the divine that allows us to call the creator of the universe "Abba" which means "Father" or, more specifically "Daddy" (yes, it is that informal).

On Sunday, we will celebrate our belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day and appeared to the female disciples and then to the Twelve (actually, at that point, eleven--Judus was gone). He then appears to various others in various other situations, before ascending into heaven. Here is the problem: too often we metaphorically linger at the tomb, wondering what to do next, where Jesus has gone. We don't expect Jesus to appear in the world, perhaps even unexpectedly in our everyday lives. We often refrain from, to use a book title, Unbinding the Gospel. Even as Jesus' followers, we don't seem to fully grasp the fact that Jesus has been turned loose in the world--both through our hands and feet and through the Holy Spirit at work. As we again follow Jesus through death, burial, and resurrection, may we not forget that Jesus is loose in the world--and be on the lookout for him!