Sunday April 26, Meet Me in Galilee

A Worship service for Sunday April 26, 2020

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!"

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.


Songs selected by Carol. Highlight the https address and copy it and paste it in your browser search bar and enjoy the song and sing along.

He Lives! (I Serve A Risen Saviour) – YouTube

Because He Lives w/Lyrics




The normal Easter Greeting is: “He is risen” with the response of, “He is risen indeed!” However, Jesus had a different Easter morning greeting. On that first Sunday when Jesus met Mary Magdalene, he established the COVID-19 greeting. He said to Mary, “Don’t touch me!”  😊

She was to learn a new kind of relational connection – spiritual rather than physical.  And in like manner (kind of) we now have to learn the new kind of greeting of one another (at least for a while). And we learn new ways of gathering and worshipping.



I like history – I like to understand events chronologically. So, when I read the accounts of the resurrection appearances, I do not quite have a clear timeline in place. The scriptures in Matthew, Mark, and Luke have the angels meeting the women at the tomb early in the morning. Matthew and Mark have the angles telling them to go tell the disciples he is risen and to say that they are to meet him in Galilee. And yet Jesus also met the disciples on that first Sunday in the evening in Jerusalem. And presumably a week later they were still in Jerusalem when he met with them again and Thomas was with them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not record a Galilee trip.


Now I know the writers of the Gospels were not writing a history with exact chronological events; the writers were summarizing messages in their gospels. The exact and detailed time table of events we may not precisely know. However, as we seek to harmonize the messages of the eyewitnesses, the gospels do let us know that the disciples received the message to go back to Galilee and the risen Christ would meet them there. Perhaps, not only the women told them but Christ may also have told them himself.


They had come with Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover – the start of the Jewish new year with expectations to usher in the new Messianic reign. Their expectations were dashed – even though Christ had told them that their hopes were wrong. But now they are to leave the place where he led them and to go back to a designated place where he would meet them – in Galilee.


Going to the place that God designates … where he tells us to go is not always convenient nor comfortable. God called Abraham to leave the comforts and protection of a settled community and become a homeless wanderer living in a tent looking for a “city that God built”. Later, God told Abraham to take Isaac and travel to a specific meeting place … a trip through barren wilderness, and there Abraham was to sacrifice his son. Not an easy and relaxed drive to sit in nice comfortable padded pews in an airconditioned setting with uplifting music. Likewise, the trip to Galilee for the disciples was a dangerous proposition – presumably the authorities were still seeking to round up Jesus’ band of followers in order to minimize any retributive threat they might have plotted. In one recent movie, the film depicts the disciples being hunted by Roman soldiers as they tried to “escape” to Galilee.


Going to the place God designates – is not always immediately rewarding. Peter found the Galilean period rather frustrating or boring – presumably, because Jesus was not there. Peter, in what I think was exasperation after waiting around for Jesus to show up, declared, “I’m going fishing!” There are many times of seeking God and calling out for him that is met with silence. I have often heard and have told others that having a daily “quiet time” to meet with God is a necessity. But often, as many have experienced, it is just that – quiet. And so, we say, I’m going shopping or to work or to watch TV, etc.


And when Jesus does show up at the designated meeting place – it is often confrontational. John 21 records that particular appearance event. Jesus met the disciples as they were fishing – he finally showed up when Peter was not dressed properly. Then on the sea shore, rather than make a fire of drift wood, Jesus made a fire of charcoal – reminding Peter of the fire in the courtyard that burned while Peter denied knowing Jesus. It is likely that Peter remembered his proud boasting, “I’ll never leave you even if all the others do”. And as if that was not enough to bring up old memories where we failed, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus.


Meeting with God at the place he has designated for you to meet is not always easy. Returning to Galilee is going back re-learn a lesson that had not been grasped. Their false expectations that had been dashed reveled that they had not really learned the lessons they were supposed to learn in Galilee. He had told them that the Christ would suffer and die.


Yes, when Jesus really does show up at our Galilee, it is not always comfortable, encouraging nor thrilling. We do not always feel “good” when we meet with Christ. He calls us to repent. He calls us away from the life we love and desire to make for ourselves – that of catching fish. He calls us to commit to hard tasks … to feeding sheep and being led where we do not want to go.


Meeting with Jesus is often challenging. We are called to seek him with our whole heart. And if we ask, seek, knock, the door will be opened. But this is the way it has always been. Moses was called to enter a dark cloud on the mountain where God was waiting for him.


God led the remnant of Israel to a designated place. In Jeremiah 29, the exiles are told to settle down plant gardens, celebrate marriages and to pray for the peace and prosperity of that “enemy” city. They were not to curse the new land and the new way of life – their exile would be 70 years. And when they returned to their homeland, things would not be the same. The old way of life had been destroyed. They were to learn a new way. Jeremiah 29:12-14 says that in that new designated place …. there …. you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.


The new place of exile was a place where they “filed for unemployment”, had to stand in food distribution lines, and had to learn to eat foods that were different from the “McDonalds” that they had enjoyed.


God designed that new place to become a place of meeting with God. A place to call on his name – even though they did not have the Temple and the sacrificial system of worship. There was now a new form and a new way of relating to God. In the new place God was to be their protection and their provision. A place to re-set their life focus and their life dreams and expectations. A time to listen well.


Sometimes the new place is a situation. The Apostle Paul explains that he “learned to be content in any and every circumstance. And Habakkuk 3:17-18 tells of the decision by the prophet to rejoice in the midst of the hard time. He decided to make that place of desolation to be a place of trusting in God.
Though the fig tree does not bud and no fruit is on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the sheep are cut off from the fold and no cattle are in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”


Sometimes, He “prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies” and he wants us to sit right down and to experience his fellowship – trusting and relaxing – while the enemies are gathered around seemingly to plot our destructions.


At times he wants us to return to Lystra. In Acts 14:21, Paul and Barnabas returned to a place where they had received beatings and banishment – defeat. God send them back to win victory where they had experienced defeat. God wants to meet us in the arena where it seems like we have been dominated by evil – in the arena of our addiction or habits, old relationships where a bitter root has taken hold, returning to the memories from which we have tried to escape. God wants to meet us there – to learn the lessons in that place; how to win and be victorious in an area where we have only known defeat. He wants us to snatch the victory from the enemy. He will keep setting appointments to meet us in our Lystra till we show up and learn how to be more then conquerors.


Several years ago, the coffee company of Starbucks announced plans to "reimagine" the third place which refers to another place outside the home and work that people can gather and build a sense of community. The first two usual social environments of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place") are places of necessity. The home can be a place of isolation and insulation from the world – where we provide for ourselves the basic necessities of life: sleep, clean, and eat. The second place of work is where we gather our resources – our income. And in these two places, we do not always get to choose things to be just as we want them to be. Family life is not always comforting and our place of work can be highly competitive and combative. The first two environments are places that can be full of stress.


This third place is especially important – it is a place of our choosing. We get to choose where we like to hang out in a social surrounding please us as an individual. It is a place that that “fits” and gives a sense of self identity and restores wholeness. Environments such as churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, bookstores or parks nightclub or sports arena or museum are places where the individual can experience transformation. And Starbucks wanted to be that third place.


I think God wants to be our third place – our place of choosing. He is going before you into “Galilee,” or for the Israelites – into exile, or for Paul into Lystra. And God wants that place to become a place of prayer – a place where we call upon him and meet with him in the way that uniquely fits us and restores our soul. It may be a time to deal with the past and repent. It may be a time where God questions our loyalty and calls us to “die to self”.


The disciples were called away to Galilee where Christ was to meet with them. And along the shore of the lake – he met them. Perhaps in Galilee is also the place where more than 500 disciples saw him at the same time. And then he gave instructions to go back to Jerusalem – the place of defeat – where they had failed to stand with Christ. And outside of Jerusalem, they saw him ascend into the clouds – he disappeared from the sight with the words that he would come again.

Side Note: And even though the scriptures say he disappeared into heaven; the scriptures also say that Christ is present with us now. So, I think that when Christ “returns” - our eyes will simply be opened to realize he was here with us all the time.





The angel then told the disciples to go back to the city and wait until they received the Holy Spirit.

They were to go to the new place and wait for the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit. And they went to the designated place and indeed the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost.


They obeyed the instructions to meet with Christ in a new and different way. No longer just physical presence but a spiritual presence. Their meeting with Jesus would not be the same after the resurrection – there was a new way and a new way to experience the presence of Christ.


The way the disciples met and experienced Christ after the resurrection and then after Pentecost was their “new normal”. No longer was Christ physically present and available in bodily form. Christ called them to a new way of worship and a new dynamic in their relationship. He said he would be in them not just with them.


This present situation in which we find ourselves with the COVID-19 pandemic is altering a lot of our traditions and forms of worship. The way we meet and how we interact within the body of Christ is changing. We long to go back to the old way …. But perhaps there is a new way into which God is leading us. In every age of the church and through every stormy wind that have blown destruction into the life of the believers – he is present. There have been periods of, productivity and prosperity, and then reversals of fortune and even persecution. The forms of worship and meeting with God can change by the fickle decrees of governmental orders, by natural disasters that rip apart buildings of worship, or by tragedies where violence destroys the patterns of belonging. A decade or so ago, a flood changed our normal pattern of worship – for six months we met in the gym. Change seems to be part of the present life. Changes upset normal routines. And in this present time of uncertainty, we do not know when we will return to the sanctuary. But perhaps change is what we need.


At times the old forms of worship may have been a hindrance from really meeting with Christ and experiencing him. Often the church has got caught up in side issues: traditional hymns or contemporary, controversies over what musical instruments is proper (organ, drums, guitars), and whether emotional hand waving, clapping, dancing and shouting is correct vs quiet solemn serenity. etc. Other things that can distract us from true worship: getting caught up in a building project and the color selections, or getting frustrated in our area of service when others do not do their “job” the way we like. We easily can think that our form of worship and style is the best way to meet and hear from God. But it may just actually be the familiarity of place that insulates us from really hearing God. We at times need a place in the wilderness in order to experience a burning bush.


For some of us, Galilee may be sheltering in place in our homes …. God wants us to seek him. Gathering with others may be through the computer video, or phone where we learn new patterns of connecting. For others it is a call to front line service that is danger filled.


And the changes of place are often more for us. Jesus proved that he could meet the disciples any time and anywhere. So why the trip to Galilee? I think it was because they needed the change to get their “head on straight” or to refocus their attention. We can dwell in a time of self-pity and whining a long time moaning over the fact that we can’t do things the way we always have done them. We at times want to just sit and wait for the old normal to return. Change forces us to get on in a new chapter in life. Change creates opportunities for new levels of growth. Change exposes weaknesses and temptations.


The good news is that Jesus wants to meet with us. He told the disciples to go to Galilee and there he met them. Jeremiah reminds us, “If my people will call upon me … seek me … I will be found”.


Don Moen wrote the song: I Just Want to Be Where You Are

I just want to be where you are
Dwelling daily in your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar
Draw me near to where you are


I just want to be where you are
In your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where you are
‘Cause I just want to be with you


I want to be where you are
Dwelling in your presence, Feasting at your table
Surrounded by your glory
In your presence, That’s where I always want to be
I just want to be, I just want to be with you


I just want to be where you are
To enter boldly in your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar
Draw me near to where you are


O my God, you are my strength and my song
And when I’m in your presence
Though I’m weak You’re always strong

I just want to be where you are
In your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where you are
‘Cause i just want to be, I just want to be with you

Don Moen – I Want to Be Where You Are | Live Worship Sessions Acoustic Guitar & BGV …

You Are Here by Marty Nystrom LYRICS All copyright belongs to its owner …

Michael W. Smith – Draw Me Close [with lyrics]





Douglas Leslie