We announce to you what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have seen and our hands handled, about the word of life. The life was revealed, and we have seen, and we testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we have seen and heard, we also announce it to you so that you can have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy can be complete.
- 1 John 1:1-4
(Common English Bible)
I remember the first time I went to Monterey, Calif. My grandmother had been several times, and she had told me all about it. She had told me of the beautiful sunsets, the beaches, the cool salty air by the ocean, the freezing water of the Pacific, and of all the colors, smells, and sounds of Monterey. I had built in my mind a very limited picture of what I thought Monterey should look like. But I will never forget stepping out on coast of Monterey for myself. Standing near the bay, hearing the sea lions, smelling the kelp and feeling the salty air for myself was something I could never have imagined. It was an overload for the senses - almost too much to take in at one time. I had understood her words, but I had to experience Monterey for myself. Life with Christ was like that for the apostle John. In his first letter, he described his experience of being in the presence of the risen Christ using the senses of seeing, touching, and hearing.
What he had known from the beginning about the Messiah, he experienced by simply being in His presence and interacting with Him.
It was important to John's reading audience that he uses such experiential language as touching, seeing, hearing because they had begun to believe that Christ had not been resurrected in body - just in spirit. John speaks of touching the risen Christ with his hands, of hearing His voice, and of seeing Him with his own eyes, none of which could be accomplished if Christ's resurrection had been in spirit only. John wanted his readers to know that he was a first-hand witness, and so he used language of experience - language of senses - to describe his experience of Christ.So what is our experience of Christ?
Nearly 2000 years after the Resurrection, how do we see and hear Christ today? We see Him in the faces of those who offer bread to the hungry, aid to the needy and help to the hurting.
We feel His comfort through those who offer comfort to the distressed, companionship to the lonely and hope to the spiritually hungry. We feel Christ warming our hearts when we listen with attentive ears to the Gospel story, when we help others and when we share God's love with those around us. And just like John, we must continue to share our story with the world, to add our story to the already long tradition of stories of how people throughout history have experienced the resurrected Christ in their lives. What is your experience of Christ? Will you share your story with others so that they too may have fellowship with the risen Christ and with those who have witnessed His work throughout history?
The Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at email@example.com.