III Easter

May 5, 2019

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

If any of you are a science fiction lover like me, you may remember a TV show back in the mid to late 1990’s called “Sliders”.  No, it was not about people who prepared small sandwiches!  It was a show that looked alternate universes. 

For instance, on one show the “Sliders” ended up in an alternate universe in which the Revolutionary War was won by the British.  Since the Colonists did not win, the other countries in Europe inspired by that victory did not rise up in revolution, and Europe was still ruled by monarchs.

If you are not familiar with that TV show, I would guess that many of you are familiar with the classic Christmas movie – “It’s a Wonderful Life” in which the main character, played by Jimmy Steward, gets to see what life would have been like if he had not been born.  He discovers that so many people’s lives were touched by him and the decisions he made.

In the Lesson from Acts this morning, we have the story of the conversion of St. Paul.  In it we read:

“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Anani'as.’   And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’   And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying,  and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’   

But Anani'as answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.’   But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’

So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’   And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.’”

As I read this part of the story, I began to wonder -- What if Annanias had chosen not to go to Saul and lay his hands on him and heal him?  What if he decided that he did not trust the Lord, and that Saul was too dangerous?  What if he had decided that Saul would not be able to harm the followers of Jesus if he remained blind, and that was a better, safer choice?

If Annanias had not chosen to fulfill what the Lord had asked of him, then Saul would not have become Paul, and that would have changed the course of the history of Christianity.  Perhaps – like in “Sliders”, you and I would not be sitting in Church today.  Perhaps we would be Jews in a synagogue, or Muslims at a mosque.

Which led me to another question?  What if Jesus had not chosen to fulfill the will of His Heavenly Father?  What if He had decided to slip away in the garden while His disciples slept?  The world would not have been the same.

I do love science fiction, but it is fiction!  Perhaps there are parallel universes, but we live in this one and that is the one that we need to concern ourselves with.

The point is, that just like “Sliders” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” explore, the choices that we make can make a huge difference in the lives of others.  As we seek to live a life in Christ, we are called to listen for the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.  It is important to remember, however, that we have a choice.

This week, join me in spending some time to listen for that still small voice, and then to choose to follow what we hear.  It could make a big difference not only on our lives, but in the lives of others.  AMEN.