The Easter story and other resurrection appearances all have an element of surprise. When we stop and think about it, surprises are found throughout the biblical narrative. The youngest son David is anointed as king. The mother of Jesus the Messiah is a peasant girl. Saul, who persecutes the followers of Jesus, becomes a leader of the Jesus movement. Even Jesus’ parables have unexpected twists. A Levite and priest pass by a man who has been beaten and left for dead. The person who stops to help him is a Samaritan, whom most ancient Jews would consider an enemy.
Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber suggests, “What if faith is about recognizing that when something is not expected . . . and 100% surprising – that perhaps it’s the work of God.” She gives an example from her personal experience. Nadia currently serves as pastor of a Lutheran emergent church. However, she was raised in a conservative Church of Christ. She left the church of her childhood in her teens. Recently, while taking questions after giving a presentation, one of the questioners introduced himself as a local Church of Christ preacher. Nadia tells what happened next.
“I braced myself for what I was expecting, which was so much smaller than what happened. See, the Church of Christ preacher . . . merely said “Nadia, I don’t know if anyone from the Church of Christ has ever apologized to you for there being no room in our denomination for your amazing voice, so I just wanted to make sure you heard it from me. Nadia, I’m so sorry.” That’s all he said.
And then a stone rolled away and I stumbled out of a tomb I didn’t even know I was in. Before I realized what was happening, my eyes filled with tears and through a strained, closed throat I fought to say “No. No one has ever said that to me. Thank you” and it was like my eyes had to painfully adjust to the light.” (For Nadia’s entire sermon, see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2014/04/sermon-on-empty-tombs-and-the-suddenness-of-dawn/)
Surprise! Reconciliation! Healing! New Life! Amazing grace! The joy of being Easter people!
Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” – John 20:18a