Simeon has been grounded from playing Mario games for about a week now. A week ago he went into the bathroom, closed and locked the door, climbed up on the toilet, opened the medicine cabinet, and started to eat Tums Antacids. I had caught him doing the same thing, with the door wide open a few days earlier which landed him in a pretty big time out. This time, out of fear of getting caught, he hid behind a sealed door. His fear proved justified. When I found him this time his punishment was far more severe.
Today his punishment is almost over, and we have attached a better lock on the medicine cabinet to prevent such things from happening again.
This event actually reminds me of another young boy, who locked himself in a room out of fear of being punished too. When I was probably six or seven I walked down to the convenience store near my grandparent’s home. I had a little bit of change in my pocket and I was looking forward to buying some candy.As I examined the large counter of various candies trying to decide what to get, a man came up behind me and told me all of the candies along the counter were free. Excitedly I grabbed a handful and left.
I only made it about halfway back to my grandparents home when another boy came running after me. He told me I had STOLEN the candy. Frightened out of my mind I tossed the candy into a bush and ran the rest of the way back. After I arrived at my grandparents house something unfortunate happened. An ambulance or police car drove past with its sirens turned on. Certain that the police were closing in I ran down to the porch, locked all of the doors, and I begin to cry.
I knew that in any moment the police would arrive to arrest me. There I sat in a locked room filled with fear.
At Sackville United Baptist we have been looking at Jesus’ post Easter appearances. One encounter recorded in John 20:19-31 is about the disciples who have locked themselves in a room out of fear. Fear can do that to us all.
The past few weeks of news have been just terrifying. We have heard about rapes, and bullying, and suicides and murders, and shootings, and stabbings and now we are all processing what has happened with the bombing in Boston.
It is in times like these that we could so easily lock ourselves into a place of fear. Fear that these terrible things may happen to us or to our loved ones. Or worse still fear that they happen to us or our loved ones again.
Of course we don’t need tragedy to lock us into fear. A harsh word, a painful break up, an uncertain job, a bad experience dropping your child off at daycare, and so much more can lock us into places of fear.
That is what I like so much about this appearance of Jesus. The disciples are all rightly terrified. They like Simeon are expecting the law to come crashing in and punish them. But instead of armed soldier breaking down the door, Jesus appeared passing through the door. Instead of punishment the disciples were given peace, they were given shalom.
My mother did this for me when I was that little boy crying in my grandparents locked porch. She found me, and I explained what happened. She told me that things would be alright and despite my great fear we went back to the store and paid the man for the amount of candy we thought I may have stolen.
As the story concludes one of the things that I find most striking is that the disciples outward situation doesn’t really change. There is still a very real possibility that they will be arrested and punished. Yet their fear has disappeared.In our lives too we can turn our fears over to Jesus, and even though our outward situation may not change at the time, or ever, we will be given peace and confidance to face anything.
***This is a much adapted version of a sermon I gave on Sunday April 14th entitled Beyond Doubt***