Monday, April 19, 2010

Can You Relate?

Can you relate to the way the disciples felt after Jesus' death and resurrection? Have you ever had the rug pulled out from under your feet? How did that make you feel? Were you ready to give up? How were you able to get past your grief? Have you ever felt so lost and in such despair that you thought there was no way you could recover? But then you did and joy came into your life.

Maybe it happened bit by bit, a little ray of light breaking into the darkness just a little further everyday. Or maybe you experienced what the disciples did when Jesus suddenly appeared in the room when they were behind locked doors. One day you are lower than your shoe laces and the next day sunlight bursts through the darkness and you’re almost blinded by its brilliance.

And you wonder, how’d this happen? And the next thing you knew the light was gone and you were plunged into the depths of darkness again. The roller coaster ride was almost too much to take. You just wanted one or the other.

What do you do when life is tough or where do you go? Do you go to bed, pull the covers over your head and hope that when you wake up you’ll find out it was all a bad dream. It never is you know. Or do you run away and hope that you can outrun the darkness that has invaded your world. What do you do?

Do you go to your knees in prayer? Do you seek out your best friend? Do you rail against God? Do you look for answers in the clouds, alcohol, books, or The Bible? What do you do?

Or do you give up on God or maybe just think about giving up on God? Maybe you’ve done both. Did it help? Or were you so lost and so empty that you never thought you’d find your way back to God?

When we get to that point will God call us back? When you got to that point did God call you back or is he calling for you today? How did you recognize his voice? Where were you when you heard him calling you? What did you hear him say? Did he chastise you or were his words soft and kind, filled with love?

These are all the emotions the disciples felt. How do you think Peter felt? Listen for a moment to what Peter has to say…(Monologue written by Rev. Ann Scull)

I've made some big mistakes in my time! ... but nothing like the ones I made on the night when Jesus was arrested. It all started to go wrong when the soldiers came to arrest him. I couldn't believe it was happening! I jumped in like a real life Rambo and took a swipe at one of the arresting soldiers - but I only managed to remove his ear and before I could have another go, Jesus reached out and healed him. I was astounded. And as the crowd started to snigger, I felt big and stupid and clumsy. So I stood and watched them lead him away as it hit me that after three years I still didn't really understand what he was on about. But I couldn't abandon him. I followed the soldiers at a distance till they reached a courtyard. I tried my best to blend in but it was difficult. They all recognized me, the servant girl, the gatekeeper, and a big bloke who was a relative of the soldier whose ear I had removed! He recognized me in a flash!! And if they didn't recognize my face then my Galilean accent gave me away. They were all having a go at me - trying to make me admit I was one of his friends. But I couldn't do it. Three times I denied that I even knew him! I was so scared of what they would do to me. I caved in like a house of cards.
But that's not the worst of it. Jesus knew what I was doing! As the soldiers led him away he looked straight at me, our eyes locked through an open doorway.... and I could tell. He knew all right. And ....and there was nothing I could do! And I remember his words telling me I would do this awful thing. I felt ill just thinking about it. I ran outside and cried like a baby. It was as if my heart was breaking. In a matter of minutes, my whole world was in shatters.
After he was crucified, strange things happened. I was one of the first to see his empty tomb. He appeared to us all one Sunday when we met together in secret. But for me, life became even more difficult as the dark cloud of my denial of him spoilt any of the joy. It was as if there was a wall between us - a wall which I had built - which I didn't know how to remove. I was dying to speak to him but it was also the thing I dreaded most.
So I went back to my boats and the fishing. What else could I do? I didn't have the heart for it any more but it kept my hands busy. I conned a few of the others into fishing with me. And one morning as we returned home, there was Jesus - on the beach. I was so intent on speaking to him that I couldn't wait for the boat - instead I dived straight in and swam to shore. But I was tongue- tied. I couldn't say all the things that were on my heart. Instead I ran around doing everything he asked with all the enthusiasm I possessed. And my business and eagerness hid the wall between us - but could not break it down.
After breakfast, he took me for a little walk along the beach. I didn't know what he was going to say. The weight of my guilt blotted out any other thought. I couldn't think how to even start to say all the things I wanted to say. If I had tried to say that I loved him it would have sounded trite and hypercritical after all that had happened. But I didn't have to. Instead he asked me if I loved him! Three times I had said he was not my friend on that terrible night. Three times on the beach he asked me if I loved him. Three times I said yes with my whole heart. And I knew he believed me because he gave me a job to do - to look after his followers for him - a job that proved to me that he trusted me and that the past was forgotten and that the wall between us was gone.

Let’s go to the stations set up here in the sanctuary. What do you need? Who are you like? Are you like…

Station 1. Paul and his need for a new direction?

Station 2. Ananias and his need for courage?

Station 3. The disciples and their need for a new perspective?

Station 4. Peter and his need for forgiveness?

No adults came forward with any artistic creations on the "arrows" but the children certainly enjoyed the "barby" by the lectern.

Thanks to Ann Scull from somewhere in Australia for the ideas for this worship experience.

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