Reflection for Sunday – April 14, 2024

Readings: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2: 1-5a; Luke 24: 35-48 
Preacher: Deni Mack

Peter says to us what he said to those who first heard him – “I know that you acted out of ignorance.” 

But we’re ignorant only some of the time.  Other times we’re repentant and dependent on God.  Our dependence on God wipes away some of our ignorance.  Clarity about the miseries and joys in our world come into focus as we depend on God.  There have been so many times I did not know what to do, did not understand my dilemma and felt helpless.  Yeah, I work like it’s up to me and I pray knowing it is up to God.  I beg God to tell me what to do.  I ask God’s help all the time.  I am dependent on God, and glad to admit it. 

God has never texted me, shouted at me or emailed me but I sense God’s direction.  I’ve pleaded, “what should I do” like a mantra with every breath, for months on end, several times in my long life.  Some clarity comes.  I am a voracious reader.  There’s that.  I get some information there.  For wisdom I bring questions to God and listen.  And listen to people closest to the pain of injustice. I listen to experts and check their sources. On any issue that I sense God tugging on my conscience I read at least ten lengthy emails from advocacy groups and compare them.  I study, ask questions, listen to speakers who’ve done the research, studied the graphs, endured the long waits for explanations.  Some clarity comes along with reliance on God’s will. 

Yes, God gives us Jesus, the Christ, our advocate. And he shows up in some of the most intriguing places – just when we’ve been puzzling over information we searched for or had handed to us. Jesus, our advocate, seems to nudge us especially when we are discerning whether to sign a petition or send a note or make a call.  We become an advocate knowing Jesus lives in us and is our advocate.  Not a simple thing.  Not a regular thing. Not an automatic thing, nothing like—I pray and I get answers.  No, not that at all.  This is more a process of discernment taught by spiritual directors over the centuries: a careful listing of pros and cons for at least two options to whatever is challenging us.  We carefully weight each pro and each con.  No quick count of more cons than pros or more pros than cons for this option and that option.  Rather discernment is a prayerful spiritual exercise where God’s priorities inspire us to weight each con and each pro according to biblical imperatives and our experience with people closest to the pain of injustice.

Careful not to act out of ignorance, we listen to people who are suffering injustices.  When we are dependent on God what we say and do can become the fulfillment of what God proclaimed through the prophets God sends to transform our attitudes and behaviors.  Amos rebukes those who tax the poor, who impose a tax on their grain. I hate and spurn your religious assemblies but let justice roll on like a river… like a never-failing stream.  We pray with Amos 5:21-24 and Micah 6:8, He has told you what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.  We pray with Isaiah or another prophet.  We find words to return to; some let prophetic words become their mantra to pray as they breathe. God’s will for us is to do the right thing, to think the right thing, to say the right thing, to ask God, yet again, is this your will?  And we listen…. 

We listen the way those two disciples walking to Emmaus listened.  Then and now Jesus burns through ignorance.  Jesus is in our midst saying, “Peace be with you” just as he was with disciples who did not feel peaceful even when Jesus was in their presence, alive and wounded.  Like them, no matter how troubled we may feel, we are graced to trust Jesus to make peace through us. The first disciples were grief stricken at Jesus’ death and could not yet believe the women who told them Jesus had risen. 

Jesus walked with the disciples, but they did not recognize him.  They invited the stranger to stay with them and recognized him in the breaking of the bread.  He walks with us.  We invite him to be with us and our sorely troubled world.

Denise Mack