April 18, 2021
"Yet to be Revealed"
Pastor Scott Landis
Among other things, the season of Eastertide is a time of continuing revelation. Jesus just keeps finding a way to surprise the disciples and challenges them to continue on their mission. Last week we read the story of how Jesus appeared to his disciples who were huddled behind locked doors. There he breathed the Holy Spirit into them and blessed them with peace. His revelation erased any doubt of his continued presence as he challenged them to go out – and become “people of forgiveness.”
This week we read about the same incident but from the perspective of Luke, which is slightly different. Similarly frightened when he appears, Jesus offers his disciples peace (just as it is recorded in John), and then a different way to demonstrate his humanity – assuring them that he is not a ghost as they surmise. Instead, he tells them he is hungry and eats some broiled fish right before them. He then opens their minds to understand fully all that was written about him. And he tells them that THEY are Witnesses to these things. They are the ones to see God’s revelation of the resurrection. They NOW need to go forth and tell others this good news. Jesus was alive – just as he said. [Pause]
As I pondered those stories once again – I thought a great deal about what it means when something new is revealed to us – and what it means to be a “witness” to that revelation. [Pause]
We’re hearing a lot about witnesses these days – particularly as we listen to the reports of the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. A multitude of “witnesses” have been called in the trial – “eye” witnesses and so-called “expert” witnesses each offering testimony – under oath – of what they believe is truth. That’s the nature of a “witness.” They tell of what they see. Witnesses are not necessarily forced to testify – but, a witness cannot unsee what has been seen – that is, what has been witnessed. [Pause]
Perhaps you remember that fascinating film from the mid-80’s whose title – “Witness” powerfully demonstrated this concept. It begins as a little boy – Samuel – witnesses a brutal murder in a restroom in 30th Street Station in Philly as he and his mother were making their way to a relative’s home in Baltimore. Samuel could not unsee what he saw. He – like the disciples – was a witness to a startling, and in his case, a traumatic revelation.
What’s of critical importance in each of these events is what one does with what has been revealed – or “witnessed” AND how others respond to what is being revealed.
Now, hold all this in light of the epistle lesson for today which talks about the continuing nature of revelation. Listen, once again, to that pivotal verse in 1 John,Beloved, we are God’s children now;
What we WILL be has not yet been revealed.
There is so much that is “right” and “rich” and “meaningful” about this verse that I’d like us to consider for a moment and particularly as it relates to our lives today.
Of primary importance is the affirmation with which the verse begins. Beloved, we are God’s children NOW. Wow! What a powerful statement and what an amazing sense of reassurance that is foundational to everything else. If you hear nothing else, PLEASE hear that affirmation for your life – today. We (You) are God’s child now. That’s a blessing we all need to be reminded of from time to time. Then again, we cannot get too comfortable staying there. There is more that God had in mind for us. Because God is not finished with us.
I used to have a sign on my office door that read simply,
Please Be Patient
God is not Finished
With Me Yet
It was a reminder to myself and to others that I am a work in progress – a continuing revelation as it were. So, if you don’t like what you see – or if I myself, am frustrated with the way things are – just be patient – God is still doing a good work in me. “What I WILL be has not yet been revealed.”
That’s exactly what the disciples were being challenged to embrace as “Truth.” They were not expected to have it all together. It was okay that they were huddled behind locked doors out of fear. It was okay if they had doubts about the wild stories the women had told them on the first Easter morning. It was okay that they really had no idea what they were supposed to do next. God was not finished with them. Indeed, they were God’s children, but what they WOULD be and who they WOULD become – well, that had yet to be revealed.
That’s an incredibly important idea for us to embrace as individuals – AND – as a church. [Pause]
As this next year unfolds, you will receive numerous reports on the process and progress of the settled pastor search committee. They are currently working very hard on a Church Profile that provides a snapshot of Keawala`i at this particular moment in time. But as soon as that document is finished – and you will be given ample opportunity for your input – it will become static – time stamped and somewhat limited in accuracy. Why? Because, just like each one of us, our church is a living, breathing organism that is constantly in the process of evolutionary change. And we are witnesses to these things. [Pause]
Remember, we are God’s children now – but what will be has yet to be revealed. We have all learned a tremendous amount in this last decade – and just imagine all that we have learned in this past year! Incredible really.
And we as a congregation have changed dramatically over the years as well. Given all that we have experienced – there is no way we could have possibly remained the same. We – collectively – are God’s children now, but what we WILL be has yet to be revealed.
An important part of the search process is ruminating on and discerning the answers to three key questions which you will be hearing a great deal about in the coming days.
Who are we?
Who is our neighbor?
What is God calling us to be?
Do you hear that scripture verse in those questions? Who are we? Or, how do we see ourselves as God’s children now?
Who is our neighbor? What are the needs that are right at our doorstep as we think about our church’s mission? And,
What is God calling us to be? Or, what is yet to be revealed?
If these questions would have been asked of members of our congregation 10 years ago, I would bet the answers might be somewhat different than the ones that will emerge today. We are different. Our community is different. Our congregation is different. The entire world is different, and all of that change has to be accounted for as we take a good look at what is yet to be revealed. THAT is what we are witnesses to.
Having said all that, I hasten to add, the essence of who we are will always be there. Your soul remains pretty consistent throughout your life. It may be refined, polished, or even a little scarred at times – but it will always be uniquely you.
The congregation – the `ohana we know as Keawala`i has and will continue to change as the years go by, but its soul – its essence will always characterize that which you have captured in the mission statement we read moments ago.
What’s exciting is what is yet to be revealed – what we can only imagine at this point. For, We are God’s children now; but what WILL be has not yet been revealed. That’s what we must pay attention to. That’s what we have to pray about and discern. That’s what God is calling us to be. And that’s what we are witnesses of – and is our story to tell.
I invite you to think really hard about those aspects of who we are – as well as the essence of our soul. What is God seeking to reveal? What is the story we are being called to tell?
We are witnesses to these things. Amen.