Mrs. Smartt was fumbling in her purse for her offering Easter Sunday morning when a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle. The curious usher bent over to retrieve it for her and whispered, “Do you always carry your TV remote to church?” “No,” she replied, “but my husband refused to come with me this morning, and I figured this was the meanest thing I could do to him legally.” I may be subjective on this matter but I’ve got to agree with her. Sometimes you’ve just got to get where you’re supposed to go, and that’s the way it is. Who knows? It may change your life. But it’s not always easy knowing where to go or not to go: this church or that church—or any church; this school or that school. That place or this place. Where you go makes a big difference, and it’s a decision we make all the time. We just don’t think of it in the way I want you to think of it. I was walking in a store the other day and a woman on a cell phone came toward me and as she passed by I heard her say to the person on the other end, “When that happens I just tell myself, ‘I don’t need that in my life.’” She was giving advice to a friend I believe. It’s something you’ve heard people say perhaps. I know for the older generation it may sound a little strange, sort of like “talk to the hand cause the face ain’t listening” type of easy dismissal. But there’s a great point to be made here: “I don’t need that in my life,” means I don’t want to go where you want me to go. And that’s right. And it happens a lot. People are going to drag you somewhere you don’t want to go, take you where you don’t need to be. You have a say in where you go. You don’t have to be taken for a ride down someone else’s anger avenue. You don’t have to take a lap with negative Nancy if you don’t want to go. You don’t need to step on to retaliation row when someone drops a belittling comment. You don’t need to act like Alice and go down the rabbit’s hole because someone wants company. Misery loves company but you don’t have to accompany it. It’s up to you; not them. Go where you belong. Stay where you need to stay. When others are taking the low road, don’t follow. When someone is traveling the lifting up path, walk with them. Sometimes however we freely go where we don’t belong. Nobody takes us. We might even do it for what we think are good reasons. If you’ve
ever learned 12 Step program material, you’ve probably come across the saying, “Keep your side of the street clean.” The saying is based on the principle that you need to know what’s yours, what is your responsibility, your street, and be willing to take care of it, or keep it clean. It also means we need to let someone else keep their side of their street clean, or however it’s going to be. You don’t go to their side of the street because when you do you end up not cleaning it but making a mess of it. You don’t belong there. Easier said than done for many, but still possible. The point is you have the right, and the responsibility, to stay where you belong. Someone else’s somewhere may not be yours. You’ve got a somewhere, somewhere. It’s where you belong. I will tell you where I like to be. In the summer, my family and I take a little road trip, a quick jaunt to northern Wisconsin. Nothing much. 1800 miles straight through. Complaining is for wimps. Your back hurts after twelve hours, too bad. You’ve only got 14 hours more to go. Suck it up. Act like a woman—giving birth, other than the yelling and screaming. Because just like childbirth, it’s worth the pain. Actually, the fastest we ever did it was in 20 hours. I think the worst, and I do mean worst, was like 32 or 33 hours. You think Florida takes forever to get out of…try reaching the bottom of Illinois at 5:30 a.m. when you’ve already been driving for 16 hours—and I’m from Illinois. It’s not what you might call a small slice of heaven. But it’s worth it. Why? Because where we go is our somewhere. I’ve been going there on that lake since I was 8. It’s also a lot cooler in the summer up in the north woods. I can relax, breathe, enjoy, let go. I decompress. I become much more myself again. It resets my inner gyroscope. It softens my heart. It returns me to a sense of peace. It’s where I belong in some really important way. It’s somewhere I love. We all need a place to love, and a place that loves us in return. This is what Jesus is telling the women when he tells them the disciples need to head north out of Jerusalem and return to Galilee, their home. That’s where he will meet them, and they will see him. They had to get out of the big city and head back to the country. The start of what will come next needs to begin somewhere they belong and somewhere they love—their somewhere.
It’s not easy to imagine how hard their life was to become. Christ Jesus was resurrected but the disciples still had to do what had to be done. They would find huge challenges ahead, a lot of chaos, and anger. They’d face courts and mobs and hatred. Some would die speaking Christ’s name and living ministry in his Spirit. Jesus knew they needed to begin with their head and heart in the right place. They needed to return to Galilee where they would see him, and they could begin. The truth is Christ’s resurrection occurs where you must begin. The Lord shows up when you’re where you belong. You start the next right step by being at the right place first. Get in your right head and heart. Return to the place you love, where you’re loved, where you belong. That’s where you will meet Christ. I say this because it really can’t be any other way. You see, while Galilee is a place, an actual geographical location where Jesus and most if not all of his disciples came from, more importantly, Galilee is a place of the heart. It’s what you carry inside of you telling you that you belong, telling you’ve got what it takes, telling you stop listening to those who don’t know or can’t help and looking in other places for solutions to what you’re facing and what’s overwhelming. Get yourself to Galilee means claim your power, hold onto your bliss, find your joy, stick to your passion. It means the resurrection you’re seeking needs you to have faith in you, in who you are, in what you’ve done, in what God sees in you and in where you can go with Galilee going with you. God’s Spirit is encountered when you get to that place in you that Christ calls you to find, to encounter, to trust, to love. But first you’ve got to get away from what’s taking you away. So many waste their time and lives trying to go back to where they think they can make something right that went wrong or they chase someone else’s somewhere as if it’s theirs or they seek someone else to make their Galilee. Run from the rabbit’s hole. Get off someone else’s street. Leave anger alley behind. You’ve got your own place to be where the Lord can speak to you and guide you and lift you and call you and challenge you and bless you. It’s where you have your strength and hope and joy. But you’ve got to be where he’s going to meet you. We’ve all heard someone say “location, location, location.” It’s the real estate agents’ mantra meaning identical homes can increase or decrease in
value due to location. Our happiness and strength and sense of purpose increases or decreases due to how close we are to where we belong. If we’re far away from what and whom we love, we decrease in vitality and mission and joy. If we are where we’re supposed to be than we increase in peace and power and purpose. Stick to your Galilee. Don’t look elsewhere. The risen Christ would meet his disciples in Galilee because that’s where he meets any of us, and all of us. Can the church say Amen?
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