Untied Methodist (John 11:44)

A working preacher in Washington, D.C., wrestles with Scripture, the (sigh) United Methodist Church and his soul.

Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Currently the pastor of Foundry UMC in Washington, DC, a wonderful and blessed reconciling congregation. Formerly a United Methodist communicator and editor. Formerly a campus minister. Formerly pastor in Philadelphia for 24 years. Graduate of Albright College and Boston University of Theology. Husband of Jane Malone and father of David, Nancy and Naomi. Resident of Capitol Hill, a wonderful place to live! Articles published in Zion's Herald, a must-read magazine for Methodists, a variety of United Methodist publications, the Christian Century, newspapers.


A Sermon on the Post-Resurrection Church -- Luke 24: 13-35

It was the afternoon of the first Easter. Earlier in the day, the women followers of Jesus had discovered that the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid was empty. But it was now later in the day.

Two of the followers of Jesus were walking on the road to Emmaus. They were not two of the twelve disciples, actually there were only 11 left. The 11 disciples were still back in Jerusalem. These were two of the larger group of 60 or more who were also Jesus’ followers. One was somebody named Cleopas and the other was somebody else whose name is lost to history. These two were walking on the road to Emmaus, a town seven miles down the road from Jerusalem.

I want to suggest this morning that Cleopas and the other person whose name we don’t know are, in this story, meant to be a prototype of the post-resurrection church. This story is not just about two of Jesus’ extended community of disciples, it is about the post-resurrection church. They are us. We are them. What is true of them in this story is true of us today. This story is about you and me and the half-anonymous collection of humanity who have been the church these past two millennia.

Here’s what the story tells us about ourselves:

First: they were nonplused. They were scratching their heads, wondering what was
happening.They had thought they knew what God was up to in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. They had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel, but it wasn’t happening the way they had expected. Jesus had died on a cross instead of becoming king, and now the women were saying strange things about an empty tomb.

Something seemed to be happening. God seemed to be doing something, but they couldn’t figure out what it was. It certainly wasn’t what they had expected.

This is the normal condition of the post-resurrection church. We are intrigued, convinced that God is doing something, but we are not quite certain what it is.

This is the significance of the resurrection: what God is up to is outside the box of our human comprehension. What God is up to in human history continually exceeds our own hopes and surprises us. What God is up to in our church continually exceeds our own hopes and expectations and surprises us. What God is up to in our lives exceeds our own ability to fully grasp it and surprises us.

(Sermon continued here.)


Blogger John said...

There is nothing figurative or 'prototypical' of the Resurrection. The Bible says that he bodily rose from the dead. The language is very precise is all four Gospels.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Dean Snyder said...

john: Thanks for reading my Untied Methodist blog. I am, however, surprised at your comment about my blog on Cleopas and the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus and the Risen
Jesus comming to join them. I did not say that the resurrection was a prototype but that Cleopas and the other unnamed disciples were a prototype of the post-resurrection church. "They are us, and we are them," I said. We can understand ourselves by watching what happened to them. I don't think I used the word "figurative" at all. I would never call the resurrection figurative!

I did said the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were a prototype of the church ( a prototype as defined by Webster is 1. the original or model on which something is based or formed, or 2) someone or something that serves as a typical example...)

I have appreciated reading your blog. I suspect there are enough topics that we could constructively disagree on without having to make them up or misrepresent each other. I suspect the usefulness of the dialogue that happens here is dependent upon fair play ... which includes not putting words into the mouth of another. Thanks.

12:54 PM  

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