Experiencing Christ

On November 24, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Experiencing Christ Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Luke 24 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. In Luke’s gospel today, two people are on a journey, and along the way they encounter […]

Experiencing Christ
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Luke 24

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

In Luke’s gospel today, two people are on a journey, and along the way they encounter Jesus.

The story really isn’t about the days immediately following Jesus’ execution; it’s about how what Jesus represents is timeless and can be experienced whatever path we may be on.

A beautiful prayer, one of my favorites, is based on today’s gospel story. It is an evening prayer:
“Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love.”

Even though it is currently morning, that prayer is my heart today.
Lord Jesus…be our companion in the way, on our path.

My spiritual path has been a winding one and it ain’t over yet.

On every leg of my journey, I have bumped into Jesus.
My first experience of Jesus was kind of dysfunctional. He was my protector from an angry god.
It was neither a mature nor healthy theology, but I was young and my ideas about God would become less troubling.

Jesus then becam for me the one offering afterlife fire insurance. How fear based and self-serving was that?
Without Jesus, I was told, there would literally be hell to pay, but when the Grim Reaper showed up, if i said, “I’m with Jesus”…I’d get in to the exclusive club rather than being sent to the cosmic penal colony.
I blame, in part, the “fishidie” prayer…”If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.” I said that prayer every night and developed the idea that the point of prayer was to remind or persuade God to welcome me “if i should die.” Luckily, over time, my God and my Jesus would get a few upgrades.

As I matured, Jesus continued to evolve for me. He became for me a philosopher, a morality teacher, a justice warrior, a life changer, a soul healer. As I allowed God to get bigger, Jesus got better. He didn’t save me from God’s wrath, but rather helped me to think about God in more joyful and life-giving ways.

But one of the sweetest experiences I’ve had of Jesus so far is Jesus as Lord.

To call Jesus “Lord” is camp. It’s ironic. It’s humorous. It’s political. It’s subversive. It’s world changing.

Caesar was lord.
Military might, economic power, class privilege…these were the marks of lordship and Jesus didn’t have any of that, and he was pretty critical of many who did, especially if they didn’t use their advantages to help others.

Jesus is the opposite of a “lord” in any conventional sense.
His conception was a scandal.
He was born homeless.
As a toddler he became a refugee, crossing an uninviting border with his family to find safety.
As an adult he was arrested for sedition and convicted and executed.

To call that outcast, that rebel, that peasant Lord is to say that God has special care for the broken hearted, the mistreated, the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized.

To call Jesus Lord is to say that there’s not a spot where God is not, and we are each God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
If Jesus is Lord, he is the Lord of outcasts, and that means no one gets left out.

If Jesus is Lord, we all have sacred value. As an archetype, he is our hero, the symbol of rising from the dust of despair to dwell forever in the glory of grace.

As a friend of our hearts, he is someone who knows suffering, who knows injustice, who knows cruelty, and who stands in solidarity with the weeping and the weary, the despised and the dispossessed of the world.

To say Jesus is Lord is to repudiate Jim Crow era racism and its lasting legacy.
To say Jesus is Lord is to remove all shame from HIV/AIDS.
To say Jesus is Lord is to have as much compassion for a fractured spirit as for a fractured skull.

To say Jesus is Lord is to atone for the idolatry of worshiping cisgender heterosexism.
To say Jesus is Lord is to ache for those tormented by flood or fire, war or want, disease or despair, closets or cages.

To call Jesus Lord is to fight hunger, not the hungry.
To call Jesus Lord is to affirm same-gender loving people. God is love and WHOEVER lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.

To call Jesus Lord is celebrate transgender lives in the Rainbow diversity of creation. In Christ there is neither male nor female but we are all one in Christ.

To call Jesus Lord is to say that every person from cradle to casket has innate worth and dignity.

Jesus is Lord is the oldest creed of Christianity.
It is the opposite of empire, dictatorship, and domination.
The Lordship of Jesus is a commitment to the kin-dom of God, a realm where peace is the goal and love is the law and every person is known as a child of God.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on my journey until I could say, for me, Jesus is Lord.

Let me hasten to add, That in no way detracts from other faith vocabularies. The deepest truths of the way of Jesus are true in other faith traditions. Buddhists and the B’hai, Muslims and Mormans, Jews and Jains, Hindus and Humanists all have gifts that bless this world.
Every love filled faith experience I have ever had or witnessed was a window to the Divine. Any tradition that affirms the sacred value of all people, that prioritizes unconditional love, and that believes religion is best when it seeks justice for all is participating in the kin-dom of God and is compatible with the way of Jesus.

In the gospel story today, how did the travelers experience Jesus?
They told their stories. They were hurting, grieving, and they shared their hearts. They were vulnerable.
Christ was experienced in an open heart.

Then, they offered Jesus hospitality.
They didn’t know who he was, only that he seemed to need shelter for the night, and they provided it, no questions asked. They experienced Christ in their own act of generosity.

Then they sat down to share a meal…the open table, with a stranger, everyone valued, and in that moment of connecting, comm-union, they experienced Christ.

To say Jesus is Lord isn’t to argue details about his life, but to let the stories of his life inspire and transform our own.

When Jesus is Lord, we share our hearts, we share our resources, we share our lives.
Such sharing in Jesus’ name healed hurting people in the first century, and it still can today. And so I say this morning, for me, Jesus is Lord, and this is the good news. Amen.

Lord Jesus,
Be my companion.

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