***This post is an adaptation of the sermon I gave on April 7th. You can listen to a full audio version of the message here.***
There is a saying that goes ‘lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.’ I am willing to admit there have been a number of times I have allowed such a ‘tax’ to be collected on me.While I am not what you would call a regular lotto player but every now and then the Atlantic Lottery Corporation will offer a large bonus draw of $50 million dollars and I will get pulled in.
The last time I bought a lotto ticket I walked around with it in my pocket for a days. While I carried my ticket I would allow my mind to wander and consider ‘what if I won.’ I easily had 10 million spent within a few minutes. Debt would disappear for us, some family and a few organizations I felt strongly connected to. But that wasn’t all property would be bought, education trust funds set up, in my mind I was living the dream. But all of those hopes and dreams came crashing to an end when I checked my ticket and realized I had wasted my toonie.
But I don’t need to venture to the ALC to have such dreams. Every year the good folks at Tim Hortons pull me in granting me fleeting hopes and dreams with each coffee I drink. While in the IWK Meghan and I talked about what we would do if had won the Rav4. The nurse teased us for being too optimistic. This proved to be true as well, despite the amount of coffees I drank I did not win much more than the occasional coffee.
I remember well the only contest I ever won. It was all the way back in grade 6. Crayola held a contest with their then new ‘neon’ colour pencils. The contest was simple buy a pack of their colour pencils, sharpen the pencil down to a line, if the neon pencil turned black you would win a pair of rollerblades. One such day I discovered a black lead in the middle of my neon green coloured pencil. We mailed our coloured pencil in a well packed boxed and I waited my 6-8 weeks for roller blades. I am still waiting actually. The one contest I ever won, didn’t pay out!
No $50 million dollars, no Rav4 and no rollerblades. Each time a dream dashed.
On the Road to Emmaus we meet two followers of Jesus that have had their hopes dashed too. They had allowed themselves to hope that Jesus was the Messiah. You can hear their own explanation of their dashed hopes; ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’. Their hopes included a crown of gold not thorns, they imaged a parade of of joy, not a march to death, and they expected a throne not a cross.
In short they expected a king, not a corpse.
So after they waited for the Sabbath to end they began the walk home. Their sullen and disappointed walk home. The person they placed their hopes on failed to produce the results they had expected.
It was during this walk that Jesus, who did not allow them to recognize who he was, arrived to speak with them. Over the course of the conversation we are told that he, ‘from Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’.
Jesus begin to explain to them why what appeared to be the ultimate disappointment was really the greatest of victory. Why his death marked the beginning of the end for all sin and death. Beyond the ultimate joy this give me, it also gives me great hope that my defeats and disappointments can be transformed into victories as well.
If we give him the chance Jesus can do the same for ourselves as well. The cross was a symbol of death and shame, but it was transformed into a symbol of life and hope.The defeats that we have suffered also have the potential to be transformed into victories. Jesus can take our hurts, and our pain, and our disappointments and turn them into shaping and defining moments, moments that help us grow to become more Christ like.
Those who trust in Jesus never have to fear ultimate defeat only temporary and sometimes painful setbacks and lessons. We all bear crosses, none of them are light or easy but just like the cross that Jesus had to bear none will prove ultimately fatal.