SERMON TITLE: “Opening the Way: Open Minds”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 24:33-48
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: April 18, 2021 (Earth Day, Native American Sunday) at First UMC
Think about all the things we’ve learned in the past year that we didn’t know before—like the terms “coronavirus” and “COVID-19.” Think about how you learned to adapt to shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Some of you had to learn, or relearn, how to cook because you couldn’t eat out in restaurants all the time. We learned about wearing masks, social distancing, and solitude. Some people learned how to file for unemployment compensation. In the past few months, most of us learned how to sign up for our vaccinations. And think about the technology skills you’ve learned—like how to teach and attend school online, how to worship by Facebook, how to attend meetings by Zoom. Over the past year, most of us have become much more adept at using our desktop and laptop computers, iPads and tablets, and smart phones. Some of you have even found out how to worship using your not-so-smart telephones.
For sure, most of that learning was thrust upon us, and we certainly didn’t ask for it. We would be hard pressed to choose such a traumatic means of prying open our minds. And, yet, one of the positives that has come from this year of COVID suffering has been that we have been forced out of a multitude of ruts, giving us the possibility of thinking about new things in new ways. You could say that, in and through the pandemic, God has been opening the way for us to have open minds.
I’m describing our experience this way because that’s kind of what was going on for the disciples at the time of Jesus’ death. Certainly none of them, and I doubt even Judas, wanted Jesus to be tortured and executed on a cross. None of them would have chosen to feel the guilt, grief, and trauma that came with Jesus’ crucifixion. But, somehow, God was there in the midst of their pain, creating a grand opening for faith by rolling the stone away from the tomb so they could see that death was not the end of the story. And then, as the resurrected Jesus made a variety of appearances, he began opening their hearts and minds.
Open minds is our topic today. Let’s dig into our verses from Luke 24 and see if God might be able to open our minds too.