Here is the Glorious Appearance

Friday, April 13, 2012 — Friday in Easter Week

Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)

Psalms 136 (morning) // 118 (evening)

Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Luke 24:1-12

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

It’s funny when you read something over and over and then notice something for the first time. I’ve read these first 12 versus of Luke 24 dozens of times. A few years ago I read this Luke and something struck me. Technically this is not a resurrection appearance of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James do not actually see Jesus. They speak to “two men in dazzling clothes.” The men tell them about the resurrection of Jesus. It’s not until later that evening in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus himself appears. Jesus walks unknown along the road to Emmaus speaking with two friends in a way that made their hearts burn within them. It is not until breaking of the bread that the risen Jesus actually appears to the disciples in Luke’s account.

I believe that Luke’s chronology matches the experiences of so many people in our generation also. We grow up hearing the stories about Jesus’s resurrection. We hear those stories from women and mothers, and occasionally from a man dressed in dazzling clothes (take that with some tongue-in-cheek). From time to time our hearts are warmed within us as we speak with others, think and read about spiritual possibilities. And for many of us, it is within worship, especially the Eucharist, that we really experience the risen Christ.

A few years ago, on the day after Easter, I received an e-mail from a parishioner who described her sense of resurrection during our Easter morning Eucharist. The context of her note was her observance of the popularity of the last of those “Left Behind” books titled “The Glorious Appearing.” (I’m not a fan of the “Left Behind” series; I doubt if she is either, but I don’t want to speak for her.) Here’s what she wrote:

I was listening to the words of the service yesterday, where we affirmed that “we await [Jesus’s] returning, in power and great glory.” And I looked around the congregation, with all the happy faces and triumphant music, the beautiful flowers and sweet incense, and all the people I knew who put so much time and talent and trouble and tears into working with the homeless and hungry and helpless, and in teaching children and adults, and in growing plants and cooking food and cleaning floors around the church, and in talking and listening and supporting all of the above — and I couldn’t help thinking, “HERE is the Glorious Appearing. HERE is the power, and the great glory. What is everybody waiting for?”

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