Sammi Bickerdt's Sermon - June 19th - Finding freedom and humility

Children’s Time: How many of you have seen Harry Potter?

Do you remember who Harry’s friends are?

The part of the movie we are gonna watch is from the last book, The Deathly Hollows. In the scene, Harry, Hermione, and Ron are out looking for pieces of Voldemort, called horcruxes, and he is an evil wizard who is trying to kill Harry. They are trying to find horcruxes because they will stop Voldemort from hurting Harry. But Voldemort has made sure they aren’t easy to find and guarded them with all sorts of dark magic. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are running away from Voldemort and trying to find the horcruxes in secret but it is really hard and dangerous to find them. While camping, they are getting tired and frustrated because they can’t seem to find one of the pieces. Hermione and Harry are excited because they think they have a lead but Ron is fed up.

(Watch movie)

Ron get really upset in this part of the movie because he thought finding the horcruxes would be easier than it was turning out to be. He is upset because it is really dangerous and it scares him.

What are some things that you think are scary?

Part of why Ron is so upset and scared is because he doesn’t know what is going to happen and he can’t see what will happen next. Because he didn’t know what would happen he ran away.

Part of what makes things scary is because we don’t understand them or know what they are. And this makes s want to run away.

Ron is pretty cool though so eventually he comes back to find Harry and Hermione. He eventually decides to face his fears. Ron decides in the end to be brave for his friends. Ron’s bravery is because of his friends.

What makes you brave?

 

We all experience the power of God’s grace through the witness of Jesus Christ. And this power allows us to act as a light. As we leave this place remember that you are a light in the world and shed it in all the spaces you enter. Amen.

 

Scripture

The Investigator, that is the name given to type 5 of the enneagram. The investigator is described as independent, inventive, and innovative. They are also described by their preoccupation with thoughts and imagination. Investigators are generally highly cerebral or thinking types. They love to learn and gather knowledge. When they discover a niche interest, they often try to master it or learn everything possible about it. The investigator gathers knowledge for a couple of reasons: one reason is motivated by the desire to be helpful or useful. By being competent in a subject, they are more likely to be useful in relation to that subject. The second reason investigators like to learn is connected to their shadow side or direction of stress. They also love to learn as a way of distracting or disconnecting from the problems they may be facing. In other words, when investigators are healthy, they want to share their buckets of knowledge, when they are stressed, they want to hold onto it and live in it as a way to distract or disconnect from the issues plaguing them.

Thomas, like Ron, shows symptoms of a stressed out investigator in John 20. The first thing we learn from these verses is Thomas’ absence when Jesus appeared the first couple times in this chapter. Verses 19-23, describe Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples on the first day of the week. This story describes the disciples huddled up in a dark room hiding from Jewish authorities. Then all of a sudden Jesus shows up, ironically, shows the disciples his wounds, and sends them out to do his ministry before leaving them to their hiding once again. It makes you wander, where was Thomas that first day? The Jewish authorities were after him and all his friends and they were hiding out in a house. Why wasn’t Thomas with them? Did he have an important meeting to attend to? Maybe. Though we don’t have evidence of his whereabouts, we can imagine he was probably off trying to makes sense of the things he witnessed that week prior. His whole world, all that he had come to know and understand about the his savior was turned on its head. If we think of him as an investigator, he was probably trying to hold onto what he knew. Or at least, trying to figure out what pieces of his knowledge were left. We can imagine Thomas felt pretty helpless when Jesus died. He put all his efforts into following, learning, and practicing the life of his savior, a guy he thought would lead them to victory. A guy who was supposed to free his people from the oppression of the empire. He put all his resources on the hopes that Jesus would change things. And now, he has watched his king die.

When he finally gets back with the other disciples, they have probably been aware of the anxiety Thomas had around Jesus’ death and they were pretty excited to tell him about their little run in with Jesus. Thomas, after witnessing Jesus’ death, and living in his anger and sadness for several days, responds in such a way that many of us can probably relate to. He wants proof! He had so many ideas about how following Jesus would turn out and none of them probably ended with a miraculous return from death. He probably didn’t even think death would be in the picture! Or if it was, it would have been the other guys. Thomas wanted proof before he could accept what they were telling him.

Descriptions of investigators describe their ability to become very fixated on their subject of interest. When an investigator becomes fixated on something, they tend to lose a sense of perspective. Their reality becomes colored by the subject of their focus. Thomas has become so fixated on his understanding of who Jesus was supposed to be to him, he is unwilling to recognize what the disciples are telling him. Not only that, he is probably scared of what their suggesting. If we consider Thomas’ perspective, he probably is already thinking that Jesus has let him down according to his understanding of who Jesus was supposed to be. Thomas’ belief in Jesus is tied to his image of him and it is scary to consider that Jesus may be back and may let him down again.

Investigators often have a hard time trusting people. When they begin to trust it can be very damaging to have that trust to shaken. Thomas felt his trust was broken in these moments and he probably couldn’t make sense of what the disciples were telling him because he was scared that Jesus would betray his trust again. Thomas was scared to act on what the disciples were saying but instead wanted to see it for himself.

Investigators love to observe the world. They love to watch and discover the way things work. When investigators get too involved in observation, they often overlook the value of participation. When they are healthy, investigators are able to take the things they observed to participate in the world in unique and creative ways.

A week later, Thomas and the other disciples are hanging out again, and Jesus returns again. This time, he wants to talk to Thomas. Without hesitation, Jesus looks at him and tells him to touch his wounds. Thomas in amazement at the sight of Jesus simply says, “My Lord and My God!” In the end, it doesn’t say Thomas ever ends up touching Jesus’ wounds. His big talk of needing to put his hand on the marks on his hands and chest were only a distraction from what Thomas’ real issue was, his lack of faith. His fixation on the man he thought Jesus was and the wounds Jesus carried were simply a distraction from his real fear in his unwillingness to believe.

Expectations and reality do not often exactly line up. Generally, reality is not far removed from our expectations, especially if we know what we are doing, have done it before, or have learned about it. Reality becomes scary when our expectations are so far removed that we can’t seem to get a grasp on reality. When we have a hard time comprehending something, we become fearful of what it means or represents. Both Thomas and Ron Weasley are scared because their expectations and the reality of their situations are so far removed from each other that they can’t make sense of what is next.

In response, they make the choice to retreat. They no longer wish to participate in the events they are a part of. Fear has a way of keeping us safe but it also has a way of hindering us from action. When we can’t seem to make sense of something our bravery is hidden in the shadow of our uncertainty. Paralyzed by the fogginess of our reality we retreat into our minds to try and gather the pieces of our knowledge that help us to understand the reality that our world has been broken.

In the end of the scripture, Jesus says, “Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” Jesus is not saying that it is a bad thing to desire to see what is next or have clarity on where we’re going. He is simply stating that our ability to have faith that Jesus is present, even when we can’t seem to see it in front of us will sustain our happiness.

A couple days ago, I had a conversation with one of the many brilliant children at Summit about our fears. During this conversation we talked about being afraid of the dark. During this conversation, he told me that when it is light, his fears of the dark are so small, they are the size of a little pea. But when it is dark the fear grows so big it fills the entire church! As someone who grew up being afraid of the dark, I understand that feeling. Then we talked about how even a little light, like a night light or book light, helps to take the monstrous fear and shrink it back down.

In the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore says to Harry at one point, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Fear of the dark is something we all know. It is fear of unknowing, it is fear of uncertainty; it is fear of a lack of guidance. Dumbledore’s wise words are speaking to our ability to have faith. When we remember that the source of our happiness is not tied solely to what we can see but also to our ability to have faith in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are able to shed light on the fear of the unknown.

Like a night light helps to dissipate the darkness, our faith helps to dissipate our fears and uncertainty. Maybe not fully, but enough to sustain us and keep us moving forward. So I may want to change up Dumbledore’s words a little; “Faith can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” When we remember that our faith is capable of fueling our bravery, we are able to act in ways that may seem beyond our understanding or known limits. When we remember that faith is powerful and sustaining, we are able to not only observe the world around us, we are able to fully participate and shed light into the darkness.