Then their eyes opened,

and they recognized him;

and he vanished from their sight.

(Luke 24:31)

In my message on Sunday, I talked about a phrase I recently heard for the first time: “a strange intimacy.” Dr. Susan Abraham, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean at Pacific School of Religion, used those words to describe what was happening among faculty and students. During these days of sheltering in place and online classes, there is a strange intimacy happening at the school. It is also happening in my life and, I’m guessing, all over the world. People are feeling especially close to others but in a strange new way. I am sure some of this is because many of us long for the presence of others—something we have taken for granted our entire lives; and now that we are unable to have that which we desire, we value it all the more.

Jesus’ disciples were also experiencing a strange intimacy in the early days after the resurrection. In fact, before any of them had encountered the risen Jesus, they were still gathering together and talking about him. Gathering together in community in his name was very different than it was before the crucifixion, but it was still happening. Yet, when Jesus showed up, the disciples had a hard time recognizing him. Jesus showed up in their midst unexpected and unrecognizable!

I wonder how Jesus is showing up among us in unexpected and unrecognizable ways—perhaps even in shocking ways. He shows up as a refugee, an immigrant, an addict, and a great-grandmother who is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. He shows up over and over again and we fail to recognize him.

I trust when we look back on this time that we will remember the strange intimacy that has taken place; and we will remember not only the loved ones we realized we had taken for granted but we will also remember the strangers in our midst and in the world as well, along with a new and strange intimacy that was enlarged during these strange days filled with wonders as well as challenges.

I look forward to our next online worship service on Sunday!

Aloha nui!

Kahu Alan Akana

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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.

To see a video of a recent message by Kahu Akana, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.

You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.

Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.