Featured Reading: Luke 24:36b-48
I love the internet for many, many reasons: one of which is because it provides me with many therapeutic outlets. Let me give you an example of just one way the internet provides this service for me.
As someone who is prone to get worked up over things I read or see on television, it’s easy for me to jump on line and do a little research to justify my dissenting opinion. This feeling of validation helps me calm down and feel a bit more relaxed. In fact, I had an experience of this just yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday, after an exhausting week of ministry, I finally found time to sit down in front of the television for a minute around 6:00 PM. And wouldn’t you know it? Right away I encountered a group of folks participating in what I believe to be “The Most Useless Job on the Face of the Earth”. I started to get very annoyed.
Now before I tell you what that job was, let me tell you how the internet helped me deal with my frustration.
I jumped up from the couch, went to the computer, and googled “The Most Useless Job on the Face of the Earth”. I wanted to see if others would back me up. While I couldn’t find an official ranking of “The Most Useless Job on the Face of the Earth” from a credible news source, I did find several blogs where individuals gave their opinion.
The first writer suggested suntan lotion salespersons in Alaska had the most useless job. Another suggested that Britney Spear’s publicist had the most useless job. There was even an international flavor to the conversation when a Spaniard nominated the King of Spain as the most useless position on earth.
Sadly, I failed to run across anyone who shared my opinion. So I thought I might use this opportunity to share my answer with you all.
My nominee for “The Most Useless Job on the Face of the Earth” is NFL Draft Analyst.
“And how did such a group of people make it on my list?” you might ask.
My annoyance with said folks started three years ago when they called my favorite team - the Houston Texans’ - decision to pass on running back Reggie Bush “a monumental mistake”. At the time one of the NFL analysts called Reggie Bush football’s equivalent of Michael Jordan – and predicted the Texans would regret their decision to draft Defensive End Mario Williams instead for years to come.
Fast forward three years. Reggie Bush has become Reggie Who?; and the man the Texans did draft has recorded more sacks during the last 2 years than any other human being drafted behind him.
As I walked from my computer back to the couch and watched those NFL analysts on the screen for a few more minutes, I asked myself, “What is it about them that gets me so worked up?”
And I came up with the following answer. In their attempt to pass themselves off as experts, they are quick to jump to premature conclusions. They rarely have the wisdom to sit back and allow things to unfold so they could get a sense of perspective.
And then that pesky little voice in the back of my head – you know, the one that sometimes speaks to us - spoke up and asked: “Do you think NFL Draft Analysts are the only one that jump to premature conclusions?”
I hate it when that voice uses reason against me!
“No,” I sheepishly said.
In fact in this morning’s passage from the Gospel of Luke, we were introduced to another group that had jumped to premature conclusions: the disciples. For the disciples – like the committed group of NFL fans gathered in the Radio City Music Hall for the Draft– had lived through their own set of remarkable experiences. They had lived through Jesus’ public ministry of teaching and healing; they had lived through Jesus’ arrest and trail; and they had lived through Jesus’ crucifixion and those early reports of Jesus’ resurrection.
Now, the disciples could have stepped back and given the situation a little time and perspective before jumping to conclusions. But did they? No! Instead, in the days following Jesus’ traumatic departure they decided to make two things their new companion: fear and doubt.
It would be easy to stand in our current social location, glance across the millennia separating us from the disciples, and criticize them for how the responded to Jesus’ death and resurrection. And yet we better hold off on doing that. For let’s think about our own lives for a moment and how we respond to those uncertainties we face. Think, for instance, about the times when we experience brokenness in the context of our relationships. How do we respond? Do we stay open to the possibility of transformation that can emerge from those cracks in our lives; or do we prematurely conclude that our lives are over? Think about those times when we experience vocational upheaval following the denial of a promotion or the loss of a position. Do we open ourselves to the new possibilities that lie before us, or do we lose ourselves to thoughts of what was? Think about those times when we are confronted with our own mortality, or the mortality of a loved one. Do we become so focused on what might be, that we lose sight of what is? More often that not, in each of these instances we do what those first disciples did: we cling to fear and doubt.
Friends, in spite of our human tendency to jump to premature conclusions before the fullness of our stories unfold, we have words of hope before us in this morning’s Gospel reading. For in that story, we are reminded that we are not left alone to wrestle with our fears and our doubt. We are connected to the One who can manifest himself in our lives and do for us what he did for those first disciples: open our hearts and bring peace and understanding.
Now, I’d be more than a little irresponsible if I didn’t say a word about the understanding made available to us. It would be nice if that understanding came through means that we could control – through the books that we choose to read, through the workshops we decide to attend, and through the thoughts we entertain. But the challenge of this morning’s passage is the notion that for the disciples, the path to understanding was not a path they could construct or control; rather, it was a path to which they were open.
And so as we go forth to face the overwhelming challenges of our lives, my prayer for us is this: I pray that we will fight our urge to jump to premature conclusions, and instead give ourselves the time and the space to arrive at a place of understanding. For it is that God-given sense of understanding that will ultimately see us through.