Treat Life with a Light Touch
April 26, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Good morning! Our title and our topic this morning is “Treat Life with a Light Touch.”
Have you noticed that in the last few gospel readings there is a common theme of touch? At Easter, we heard the story of Mary going to the tomb in such great grief. And then she heard Jesus call her name. She ran up to Him and hugged Him. There’s that mysterious passage where Jesus says, “Oh, don’t hold on to me. I’ve not yet ascended to the Father.” There’s an element of touch there.
And last week in the gospel, we heard about Doubting Thomas. He was the man with the hard touch. He told the disciples, “I will not believe that you saw the risen Lord until I can touch the wounds in His hands and feet and thrust my hand into His side.” Can you imagine?
And this week, we hear about the touch of Jesus again. Jesus appears to the disciples who are in a locked room. They’re frightened. And He says, “Don’t be scared. I’m not a ghost. Come and see. Touch me. You can’t touch a ghost, can you?” We hear this element of touch in all these gospel stories. But I believe, my friends, that Jesus is telling us to keep the light touch when it comes to life. Treat life with a light touch.
Remember how Jesus told Mary, “Don’t hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended”? It’s a mysterious passage, what’s called a Nolo Toccare passage. Here’s what I think of that – I believe that Mary was so glad to see Jesus that she just leapt into His arms and hung on to Him, so that He wouldn’t disappear again. She took the heavy touch. And Jesus said, “No-no-no, it’s okay. I’m not going anywhere for now. You can relax. You don’t have to hold me down.” Take the light touch.
He said to Thomas, “Come here, my friend. You said you won’t believe unless you touch. Here you go. Check it out. Here are my hands. Here is my side. Come and touch.” And Thomas just put his hands in the air and said, “My Lord and my God.”
This week we hear about Jesus inviting a touch. Let’s put it all together. Jesus invites us to treat life with a light touch. I invite you to take that with you into the week. What does it mean in a practical way? Let me ask you a question? Have you ever lost your keys? Have you tried to find them but you can’t? “Where are my keys? I’ve got to go! I’m already late! I can’t find my keys!” You look here; you look there; you look everywhere. You’re so stressed out about it.
And then you realize you have an extra set of keys in your dresser drawer. You go to get them. You relax and head to get the keys. And what happens as you’re walking? You find the original keys! That happens to me so many times. Why does that happen? I don’t know. But it seems that when we lighten up, when we don’t hold on so hard to this or that, the good seems to flow. When we don’t make every question into a major battle -- when we choose our battles wisely -- things seem to flow more smoothly. We are more relaxed, and we’re able to get more done in life; better things flow to us. So my invitation to us today is to follow the lead of the Lord – treat life with a light touch.
We need to ask ourselves – are we like a boulder in the middle of a river that keeps the river from flowing? Water is always splashing up against it. Or are we like a rock in a stream, where the energies of life flow around us and don’t disturb us? I invite us to treat life with a light touch.
Having faith is treating life with a light touch, and, may I add, with a touch of light. My mother used to say, “Anthony, in life, love is like mercury in the palm of your hand. It stays with you if you just let it rest there. But as soon as you squeeze down on it and clamp down on it, it shoots through your fingers and is gone.” Treat life with a light touch, and goodness flows to you. In the book of Corinthians, the wonderful love chapter says, “Love does not insist on its own way.” Wisdom means choosing your battles wisely.
Speaking about the light touch, have you ever had the experience of calling up an agency on the telephone? It could be a credit card agency or an insurance agency. You’re talking to someone there because you’ve noticed a mistake on your bill, or there’s a service that you did not get. The temptation is to demand our rights. “This isn’t right! How come you people can’t get this right? How come this is wrong again?” That’s one way to handle it.
But if you treat it with a light touch, you might instead say, “Can you help me? I am so upset about this, and I don’t know what to do, but I bet you can help me out. Won’t you try to untangle this for me?” Friends, I don’t know about your experience, but mine has been that when I take that second approach, when I take the lighter approach, I get so much farther. The person on the other side of the phone call feels helpful, and much more gets done. When we take the heavy-handed approach, the heavy touch, things continue to be bollixed up. But when we lighten up, amazing and good things can happen.
So, I invite us to take a light touch this week. Love does not insist on its own way. Next time you face a tough challenge, I invite you to say, “How can I treat this with a light touch?” The light touch is also the touch of faith. When you feel anxiety or heaviness or doubt in your heart, feel the light touch of God giving you peace and strength and calmness, because the touch of faith is the touch of light. May it be yours this week; may it lighten your heart and bless you, through and through, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski