God Opens Eyes and Sets hearts Ablaze (LWML
September 21st, 2008
We all have expectations as to how life should be and how it will turn out. These may not be written out, we may not have thought about them in great detail, but we all still have them. The child who studies hard, should be rewarded with good grades. Young children expect they will live in a secure environment, and they desire that their family will stay together. A newly married couple has expectations about having children, and what these children will do in life. They expect to be happily married, live comfortably, and retire having built up a good nest egg. As individuals we plan ahead, with the expectations of good health, and think while we know this may not take place, we do expect it.
By the grace of God many of these expectations are met, and God blesses beyond our expectations, and even beyond what our prayers have expressed. Ephesians 3:20 says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. However, as you well know life this side of heaven, life under our Savior’s care doesn’t always match expectations. That child who studies hard, still gets C’s and sometimes D’s, while others who don’t work nearly as hard, get better grades. Children who expected their parents would stay together, learn about a word called divorce, and at times fill like they are “Caught in the middle”. A newly married couple finds out they are not able to have children or will have great difficulty in having children. Expectations are not met for the couple who has been married for years, and yet still lives pay check to pay check, and the thought of a good nest egg for retirement isn’t going to happen. Good health which we certainly took for granted in our younger years, simply is no longer a given as the years go buy. What does all this add up to “Dashed expectations”.
Today, we are celebrating the work that God does in and through the LWML. When you boil it all down, it is a work to bring real hope to a world of dashed expectations. This hope is for the redeemed, those who through faith in Christ, are connected to his abiding presence and love. Yet, this real hope is also meant for a world, where dashed expectations are an everyday occurrence. God sends us out as he sent the disciples out, to bring to those who are reeling from unmet expectations, the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. You see before we even enter the picture, whether in a formal way through organizations like LWML, or through other ways God is working to shatter the false gods (expectations) people trust so they can build on what is true, and ever sure.
Most here know the account well. It’s the post resurrection account at Emmaus, where Jesus appears and makes himself known, to his disciples. How he does this, is quite instructive for us today, especially when our expectations and our hopes seem to be dashed because life does not turn out the way we expect it too. It is this message the LWML, and it is our calling to God’s people, and unbelievers throughout the world.
The disciples to had had their expectations dashed, and their hopes shattered. In a matter of a few days they went from the opportunity to obtain greatness through the coattails of King Jesus, to a scared stumbling group that seemed to lose belief in everything. When the women said that he had risen, they simply responded that their words seemed like nonsense. Now notice Jesus talks to them, but he shows them that where believe stems from. HIS WORDS. “And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory. He then proceeds to show how the whole O.T. pointed to himself. Jesus says in John 6 “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life, These are the Scriptures that testify about me. This past week we were looking at the Psalms in our devotions before school, and it was a hard to follow Psalm, and while Jesus doesn’t seem prominent, even that verses speaks of Jesus. You’ve heard the phrase “seeing is believing”, for Jesus it is “hearing and reading” are believing. Jesus was in front of them here, but for now, he didn’t have them look at him, but rather hear again of him. Even though Jesus was right in front of him, they didn’t believe. However, this soon changes as Jesus uses Words about himself, to soften and transform the dashed expectations into very real hope. We may not have the opportunity to see Jesus, but we may desire to feel or sense his presence, however our calling is not to trust seeing, feeling, over even our senses but rather the Words which Jesus spoke. For example in todays Epistle reading we are described as a chosen race, royalty, a holy people, with the purpose of proclaiming that to others the light of true expectations, in the midst of the darkness of dashed expectations.
So Jesus through his word shows his worth by hearing what he has to say, rather than merely seeing. Secondly we see that Jesus eats with his disciples. In other words he gives us the great invitation to the feast. I’m reminded of Psalm 23 which says, “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Jesus as Jesus ate with his disciples right after they died, he eats with them again. Now wonder we have the Lord’s Supper, and no wonder heaven is called the great banquet. Not only do we have his words, but he also gives us himself in our world. Even though we live in fast food world, when it comes to dining, it still significant to go our and have a meal with someone. For the most part we do not do this with those who are our enemies. In our world when expectations seem dashed, we can always find our Jesus where he has chosen to be for us, in his words, in his meal. These are not just reminders, but indeed the reality that Jesus himself simply will not let go of us, he simply is determined to let us know that sin, guilt, death, disease, will not separate us from him.
Real hope in the midst of dashed expectations is found in this resurrected Savior, who comes with his mercy in the Words, and in the meal. It is then that there eyes are opened and things make sense. Finally what do they do, they speak, they sing, and declare the praises of him to those who were there. What else could this be. Throughout the service we should be saying to ourselves, “wow this is really true”. The Words are here, the meal is here, his presence is here, where two or three are gathered. Is our heart in the greatest shape, it may weigh heavy at this time, it may be confused, to that we are invited to turn. Is our heart toward God rather bland, you are in your write place. We are also called to simply let others know that in this world of shattered hope and dreams, there is real hope. “This is the one who has brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light”. This is the one who loves to set down and heave meal with you. This is the one who loves to remind you of the wonders he has done. This is the one that opens our ears and our eyes, changes our hearts, so that whether it is the LWML, Trinity Lutheran church, or in our individual lives we who once had our hopes dashed are hoping again, though this time we will not be disappointed.