Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day, and my morning to deliver the children's sermon at church. I hand-painted these wooden tokens with an eye open on one side and an eye closed on the other side. I also painted one token with an open eye on both sides and another token with a closed eye on both sides. I just wish I was better at flipping coins and rolling them around in my fingers. It would have been pretty awesome if I could do a coin trick. Well, anyway, here's my text:
Today I brought in these special coins, they are my surprise coins. The choice is either eyes open or eyes closed. Have you ever had a surprise that wasn't that surprising? Sometimes you can think you are ready for surprise. Your eyes are open and you are expecting it. Maybe you have thought through a lot of possibilities and feel that you are prepared for all of them. But sometimes, something completely different happens. Something you weren't at all prepared for. In those times, it is as if your eyes are closed to surprise.
BUT, have you ever run into those trick coins? Where you ask a question and the answer is always heads? And it turns out there that both sides of the coins have the same answer? A lot of what Jesus was responding to in his time was that the people asking the questions kind of seemed like they had trick coins.
People would ask: who knows the most? is the grown-ups? or is it the kids?
Who has the best ideas? is it the men? or the women?
Who can be most helpful? Someone we know who is a neighbor to us? or someone we don’t know who came from far away and never really liked?
Who is best? the people who have money and power? or the people who have nothing?
In a lot of cases, the answers were always the same: the men, the leaders, the people with power, the people we know, the people who look the way we look, the grown-ups. That was true in Jesus’ time. It is still true today.
But Jesus challenged these answers. Jesus says: your eyes are closed to the possibility of everyone around you. Your eyes are closed to surprise. What if you listen to the poor? the people you don’t know? the powerless? the women? the children? Why do you close your eyes against them?
It was kind of like Jesus’ coin had a closed eye on each side. And he challenged us to think about answers to questions in ways that we never thought of before. He challenged us to think about the ways that our eyes were closed to surprise. He challenged us not to be satisfied with the answers that were always visible. Every single time. Every single question. Your eyes are closed. You cannot see everything.
Which brings us to Easter morning. The biggest surprise of all. The women go to Jesus' tomb. They already know what to expect. Their eyes are filled with tears but they are open. But the stone is rolled away - it is like the eye of the tomb has been opened but the surprise is more than our eyes could ever expect. Our eyes may as well be closed because what we see we cannot believe. Jesus once again flips the coin that has closed eyes on both sides, he invites us to the awareness that we cannot know all the answers, conquer all the surprises.
That is the gift of Jesus. That is the gift of Easter morning.
Please join me in a prayer:
God of surprises
We go out into the world with eyes open, and shut.
Help us to be present to the surprises that we cannot possibly envision
Open our eyes to the possibilities of all people
When we congratulate ourselves on our wide open eyes
Remind us of the ways our eyes are still shut
When our eyes are shut
Help us with all the other ways of knowing the world
Lead us not into the temptation of thinking we can see all
and deliver us from blindness to love.