While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:36b-48 NRSV)
Last weekend, most churches and pastors around the North Carolina Conference received the news about appointment changes. Often, this kind of news bring a combination of emotions. Sadness, excitement, disappointment, hope and perhaps even anger. These emotions are some of the emotions the disciples are experiencing as they are still discerning what had happened in Jerusalem in the last days.
The two disciples in the walk to Emmaus reflect these emotions, as Jesus encounters them on the road, they are “looking sad.” However, after this encounter with Jesus, they ended up announcing with joy that “The Lord has risen indeed….” And the story does not end with this announcement. As they share about their encounter with Jesus to the other disciples, Jesus appears again, stands in their midst, and proclaims: “Peace be with you.” Jesus also reminds them of what should be his purpose from now on: “…repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”
As many churches in our district and conference will experience transition in the following months, I pray that the same Jesus who appeared to the disciples then, will show up again reminding us that no matter the transition, no matter the changes, no matter our fears, Jesus’ desire is the same: “Peace be with you.”
Jesus also wants us to remember our purpose as the Church of Christ; the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations. Put differently, Jesus want us to continue sharing the story of God’s redemptive plan for the world. Even more, Jesus wants us to identify areas in which the way God’s story has been told needs redemption.
Something else to pay attention this week, is that this Sunday is Native American Ministries Sunday. Bishop Ward and Rev. Dr. Kenneth Locklear (Gateway DS) extend an invitation to you here. Personally, my life has been enriched by the wisdom, spirituality, and scholarship of my Native American brothers and sisters, and I join Bishop Ward and Rev. Dr. Locklear in inviting you to give generously to the Native American Ministries offering this Sunday.
Dr. Richard Twiss, author of One Church Many Tribes and Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, has been a great influence in my life and ministry. His native name was Tayoate Ob Najin, which means “He stands with his people.” Dr. Twiss introduced me to the idea about redeeming the ways in which the Jesus’ story has been told. Jesus came to proclaim peace amid tribulation. Jesus came to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus’s story is use to exclude, to oppress, to divide, to justify violence, it needs redemption. May God help us to tell the story of Jesus in ways that reflect God’s desire for all nations to be redeem.
Let’s pray the Psalm for this week together:
4:1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
4:2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
4:4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
4:5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
4:6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!”
4:7 You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.
4:8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Ismael, follow this link: https://heritagedistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/