In which we consider how it is that we receive and inhabit our lived experiences. Preached on April 30, 2017 at St. Peter’s Comox.

Acts 2:36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

“In the courts of the house of the Lord- in your midst Jerusalem: Praise the Lord.” Psalm 116:19

All of the people of Jerusalem, all the citizens and all the guests, had heard the events that had transpired during the festival. Many had waved palm branches. Many had cried “crucify him”. Many felt the earthquake and saw the curtain torn in two. Many had heard that the body had gone missing.

It is very fashionable at this late hour for the world to talk about “lived experience.” You have your experience. I have my experience. And we each turn to our own experience to interpret the world that we are living in. And its certainly true that we have our own encounters with the world we don’t get to receive other peoples’ encounter in the same way we receive our own. What do we do with the experience of the world we are given?

Three-thousand heard the witness of St. Peter in Jerusalem. They came for they heard the descent of the tongues of fire. And beholding the commotion they heard who this Jesus was whom they had killed. They heard how Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s story with his people, the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham, the fulfillment of His promise to David. What were they doing with their lived experience that day? They were taking their experience and their stories and letting them be reshaped and reinterpreted by the authority of God’s story. It cut them to their hearts. And so three thousand received a new story, a new life from God.

The wider culture today reverses this trajectory.

You see it in schools. You see it in hospitals. You see it in the way “spiritual care” and nursing are taught and practiced. You see it in the way journalism is written. You see it in the way “theology” and liturgy is beginning to be done.

Authority is placed in the lived experience of the individual. Instead of receiving a new life from God and seeking to live out His will, God is expected to fit the lives people want to live. People cease to see identity as something given by baptism but something which baptism must make room to accommodate. Society expects us to affirm and encourage each individuals “truth” and ignore our humble confession that the Truth became incarnate, lived and died as one of us, and conquered evil that we might have freedom in Him.

Its not by the way that our lives don’t matter, they do they matter a lot. In the 12th-13th centuries in southern France there was a group who believed their particular experience of God was more authoritative than the witness that St. Peter gave at Pentecost and of the experience of countless in the universal church. They asserted that our bodies and the world of matter is beyond redemption. Therefore our experiences of the world don’t matter in any way. All that mattered to them was the rejection of the bodies in which we live, utterly denying and destroying them. Suicide was to them a kind of heroism, a true and full separation of the spirit from the flesh and thus a liberation of the soul from the body.

That’s not what we believe. For on the road to Emmaus it was not a disembodied specter that they encountered. No. It was the risen body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The flesh redeemed and victorious. Our lives can be redeemed and our experiences and actions do matter, they just don’t matter in and of themselves. Our lived experiences are less important than our experience of true life; resurrected life.

Jesus doesn’t molly coddle them. He listens to them, He takes their experiences seriously but those experiences are not the ultimate authority. Listen to what He says “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”(Luke 24:25-26)

He slaps them over the head with it, even insults them a little. He shows how their experiences pour out of the story that God is writing in the world. And their hearts burn within them. And in the breaking of the bread they recognize who He is and what He has done.

I want to read a quote for you from Christopher FitzSimons Allison “The heart’s temptation to escape the ambiguities and problems of life and to establish its own self as center always contributes to any distortion of the gospel. The heart itself must bow in continual worship before God whose name is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to be saved from its escape into death and from its prison of self-centeredness.”

You were bought not with anything so cheap as gold or silver. You were bought with the precious blood of Jesus a lamb without blemish or defect. We lift up our hearts here to be purified by the Truth. For it is only in being purified by the Truth that we are made capable of loving deeply. For true love is born of the Truth and the authority of the Truth who is Love. Anything else the world may call spiritual, or acceptance, or Justice is counterfeit and a very cheap substitute.

And so as we live out of that love this week, receiving our hearts as capable being redeemed by Jesus’s blood, let us do so remembering where our home is. We are not at homeĀ in the world and in this age. The redemption and judgment of the world is to come. And so let us remember that our home is in the presence of the living God who knows us intimately, and who meet in the Eucharist. Forget neither your citizenship nor your adoption dear children of God.

“In the courts of the house of the Lord- in your midst Jerusalem: Praise the Lord.” Psalm 116:19