I want to tell you a story. Erasmus of Rotterdam told the original version. Erasmus was a Renaissance scholar, Catholic priest and strong voice for religious tolerance. With apologies to Erasmus for my many embellishments, the story goes something like this:
Jesus goes to heaven after his time on earth. Everyone is simply overjoyed to see him. All the angels greet Jesus with huge smiles and warm hugs. Then they gather around Jesus. Everyone is eager to learn all about what happened during Jesus’ days on earth.
Of course, Jesus tells them everything. He could never resist the opportunity to tell a story. Jesus talks about his parents and his family. He shares the journey of his life and even has pictures of his travels. Jesus talks about all the people he met, embraced and loved.
Jesus can hardly contain his excitement as he reminds all those who are listening that God’s love has no bounds at all. Everyone is a beloved child of God. Everyone has worth and value. Everyone is our sister and brother. Everyone.
Jesus tears up as he talks about how he actually found a way to live a life that completely reflected God’s love. Then Jesus tells story after story about the ways he had embraced the lonely, welcomed the outcast, healed the suffering, and lived out the truth of justice in the face of exploitation, violence and oppression.
Finally, Jesus tells about his execution and of Easter. Nothing, absolutely nothing including death itself can separate us from God’s redemptive love. Jesus wondered if there could be any greater peace than that.
After a moment one of the angels raises her had to ask a question.
“Yes,” Jesus says.
“But what happens now?” the angel asks.
Jesus answers, “Well, I have left behind my eleven closest disciples and a number of women, men and children who have faithfully followed me. They will tell the same stories I told. More than that, they will live like I lived – both welcoming everyone and working to change those things that bring pain and suffering to our lives and to our world. My followers will open their hearts wide and go out into the world sharing the reality of God’s presence and God’s love.”
“But,” responded the angel. “What if these people fail? What then is your other plan?
“I have no other plan,” said Jesus.
See you Sunday. In the meantime, please keep our beloved church in your prayers.