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Do You See What I See?

             I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they had spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of their hectic schedules, it was difficult for the couple to coordinate their travel plans. So the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, while his wife planned to fly down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter from her email address and sent the email without realizing his error.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a Baptist minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow checked her email, expecting condolence messages from family and friends. But after reading her very first email, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I’ve Just Arrived Today. I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now, and you can send emails to your loved ones. Since I’ve just arrived, I wanted to send you an email. Everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing you then! I hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

  1. S. It sure is hot down here!!!

Today is the Third Sunday of Easter according to the Christian Calendar, Lectionary. After Easter to Pentecost, we call these times “Eastertide.”  We call them the first Sunday of Easter, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Third Sunday of Easter, etc. After Easter has a little different meaning.  “After Easter” means that “it is done after it happened,” but “of Easter” means we are still “in the Easter season.” We are “Easter People.” We may still say, “Christ is risen indeed!” and celebrate it. But it is not as familiar to us as if the greeting, “He has risen!” which is applicable only on Easter Sunday. I wonder why we forget the joy of Easter so fast. Some say joy in life is for a moment, but sadness is for a whole life time. It is life. It is what it is. What do you think?

This is how I thought before I met the risen Christ in my life. However, meeting Jesus in the hospital changed my life. To tell you the truth: He didn’t change my life, but my mindset. Even though I believe in Jesus and served God and God’s people, I also experienced much sadness in my life: I’ve lost my father, mother, elder sister, and my beloved American mommy. I also experienced failures, which meant my life didn’t bring me where I wanted it to. However, there were differences between the times before and after I met the risen Christ. Even though I lost my loved ones, I still hope to see them again.

Because I believe in Jesus and his teachings and promises, such as resurrection, eternity, and Emmanuel (God is with us), even though I sometimes fail, I know that failures cannot bring me to the end of the world because I believe in God. God is only the beginning and the end. Since I believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I can see hope everywhere. There are wars, poverty, violence, injustice, death, suffering, diseases, and more disasters in the world than we know. However, God is the living God. God is still working for the world because “God so loved the world” so much so that He gave His Only Son. And then, I think God will never give up on the world because He made and gave His only Son. Jesus used to say, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). Yes, that’s why I am hopeful even though I see the grieving world. Do you see what I see?

If we are too sad, we may not see hope. It was when I lost my mother that I couldn’t see any hope for a while. I planted a new church after I graduated from a seminary in Korea. Our church grew slowly. I started the church with one of my colleagues in the seminary. At six months, we still didn’t have anyone attending Sunday services. However, we had services every morning, Wednesday, Friday night, and Sunday. After six months, we had one attendee in service. And then I started a preschool along with church ministry. The preschool was good with many kids, but the church only had a few attendees in service. After one year, the preschool started, and we had many church members. They were mostly the preschool kids’ parents and their family members. Finally, our church and preschool were good with many members, but then my mother passed away.

I felt like I lost everything. My grief was too much, and I couldn’t see any hope. Yes, I believed in God, but my enormous sadness and grief hid my hope for the future. However, my siblings told me, “You are a servant of God. Ask your God what you are going to do.” And I went to a prayer place to pray to God. And I found what God wanted me to do. I saw hope, my future, and God’s plan for me. So, I prepared to come to the United States and was finally able to come. Yes, we Christians can be in the grief of loss. However, we don’t stay there, but move forward as God leads us.

In today’s scripture, there are two disciples. They may have been in a huge crowd when Jesus did miraculous work for the hungry and the sick. They may have been one of the people who ate a piece of bread among the five thousand people. They may have been there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They may have been in a huge crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem, waving palm leaves. They may have been there in a group when Jesus was crucified. And they may have been among the disciples who talked about Jesus’ resurrection. Even though they saw many miraculous works and learned many teachings from Jesus, they were full of sadness, grief at the loss, and disappointment. Their sadness, suffering, and disappointment hid their hope. Even though they opened their eyes, they couldn’t see the risen Christ with them. Walking with the risen Christ, they just talked about sadness and disappointment negatively. They were with Jesus but couldn’t see the risen Christ while discussing the negative and suspicious story. And they went down along with sorrow, despair, discouragement, and disappointment. However, when they heard Jesus’ story in the scripture and prayed for meals with gratitude, they opened their eyes and ran up to Jerusalem again.

Please pay attention: The two disciples might be like you. You experienced our church’s prosperous times because you grew up in this church. Once upon a time, you may have been proud of being a Methodist member. However, we are now in need of help because of reduced membership and financial resources. Now, you may worry about the church’s future. Too much worry might hide the Emmanuel God, who is with us. If you still can’t see the risen Christ, throw the negative mind away. We are in Eastertide. The risen Christ is here with us. We are Easter people who live in the hope that God works for us. We, Christians, are the people who live in the hope of resurrection, the hope of eternity, and the hope of the future because God is still at work for us. Please open your eyes, and see how God works for us. Thanks be to God. Amen!