In John’s record of the resurrection, Mary doesn’t immediately recognize Jesus in the garden. In fact, she initially mistakes Jesus for the gardener (John 20:1-16). Why wouldn’t Mary recognize the resurrected Jesus; the very man who meant so much to her? Mary was standing outside the tomb in the garden when she first viewed Jesus. In this setting, she would expect to see a gardener rather than Jesus. Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus immediately outside the tomb until he called her by name (Jn 20:14-16). More than likely she was so intent on finding his dead body (“Tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.”) that his risen body escaped her recognition. Mourning, she also may have not looked Jesus in the face until he said her name, and her eyes were full of tears in any event (20:13). We are all like Mary during our daily walk with God and relationships with fellow Christians and family members. We often don’t recognize the emotions, needs, passion, goals, hearts of service, and faith of the people we come in contact with. We are stuck in our own anxiety, fears, “My check to do list,” and closed vision. The early church, the powerful church of Rome, and we, the present church, have constantly struggled with the gift of recognizing God’s voice. We have our own agendas, power buttons, church traditions, expectations, and worries. While we are so caught up with the busyness of doing church, we miss the opportunity to recognize God’s calling, people’s needs, changes, and spiritual growth. Practicing the gifts of recognition is a spiritual process. We call this “God moments”. God moments are not easy. Julian of Norwich, Lao Tzu, St. Basil the Great, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, and others of our times have spiritually developed the gift of recognizing God moments. We fail, miss out, hurt others, get upset with God, ignore God’s presence in our lives, and then slowly we recognize our messy spirituality and allow God’s voice to guide us. Amen.
Sermon: Gifts of Recognition (God Moments)
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