Sadly the aliveness of Jesus doesn't affect some of us very much anymore. We have become so accustomed to the clichés and God-talk that the reality of Jesus' presence doesn't do much to us. Even when another is speaking on behalf of Christ and the words are true, there is, for some of us, a mental block that prevents us from hearing, because we are too familiar, or we've not taken seriously the abiding of presence of Christ. Unfortunately, the convincing proofs just aren't very convincing anymore.
Yet, I want to believe, so I maintain my ideal and offer the benefit of the doubt that our presence in this room is a sure sign, a convincing proof that He is alive. It may seem too good to be true, but I believe it is. This is why I invite you to believe it with me and commit to seeing Jesus alive and hearing Him in what might be considered unlikely places and people.
Pope Benedict XVI recently gave his first papal visit to the United States. The Pope blessed a group of children with disabilities and told them it was a special joy to spend time with them. He spoke at Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, just a few miles north of New York. "Sometimes, it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured," the Pope told the children and their caregivers. "God has blessed you with life, differing talents, and gifts. Through these, you are able to serve Him and society in various ways." He shook hands with and touched the faces of the children, many of whom were in wheelchairs. Another one of those convincing proofs, one of those sure signs, don't you think?
Jesus in the faces and lives of disabled people, whatever their challenge may? Seems too good to be true, but it is. Here's another. How about the Pope himself? Could Jesus be presenting Himself alive to us in Benedict XVI through Benedict's appearance and speaking? Here's a better one. How about you and me? Could Jesus be presenting Himself alive to me in you, and could He be presenting Himself alive to you in me? Too good to be true? Oh, but it is true. Jesus is alive in you and me and the Pope and those children. Jesus still is presenting Himself alive by many convincing proofs. All we have to do is be observant - to watch and listen.
Our son, Nicholas, just turned 18. It is hard to imagine him being that age. I pondered his birth and rehearsed the memory early Friday as I always do on that date. That day in 1990 became today in 2008 all too quickly. It seems too good to be true, but it is true. I looked at a collage of pictures hanging in my office that Jackie arranged for me and presented on Father's Day 1991. I looked at the aliveness of my son through snapshots of those first 14 months of life. Then I remembered another snapshot, another proof of his aliveness: his baptism on Easter 1998 after he prayed to receive Christ a few weeks prior. Now I look at him and see an even great aliveness than I did when he was born on Wednesday, April 18, 1990, in Owensboro, Ken., and even when he was born again on Sunday, March 22, 1998, in Springfield, Tenn. I see a convincing proof that Jesus is alive. He still is appearing and speaking through Nicholas. It seems too good to be true, but it is!
He is appearing and speaking through our students, our senior adults, our middle aged adults, and our children. He is appearing and speaking through all who've made the good confession. If you are having trouble believing, I invite you to look around you. Jesus still is appearing and speaking, showing His aliveness with many convincing proofs.
Seems too good to be true, but it is. He really is appearing and speaking through you and me. So, let us present ourselves alive with many convincing proofs to one another and the world. The world needs an appearance of Jesus and a word from Him. Will it come from you and me? Of course it will. Seems too good to be true, but it is.