Monday, April 27, 2009

Sermon for Year B Easter 3

Have you anything here to eat?

My parents died some years ago and their house,
my childhood home has long been sold.
But in an instant,
my mind can quick travel back to the kitchen in that house,
and I see my brother or my sister or me
or all three of us
standing there, as children or teenagers,
refrigerator door wide open,
peering in and shouting to our mother,
“Is there anything here to eat?”

Almost the same question Jesus asks his disciples.
Have you anything to eat?

we expect a different question.
After all, this is the Christ, the Messiah.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Now Christ is standing here saying,
“I’m hungry.
Have you anything here to eat?”

It’s so strange. It’s so real.

And the wonderful thing is--
this man, this Jesus
who has fed so many—thousands upon thousands—
now comes and says to his disciples,
it is your turn,
to do the feeding.

And feed him his friends do.
A piece of broiled fish.
And he takes it and he eats it in their presence.

This is no ghost.
This is no dream.
This is their friend, their rabbi—
and they are indeed witnesses.

Imagine how frightened the disciples were that day.
They are hiding together,
locked in a room.
They are terrified that the authorities are on their way to arrest them.
They are distraught because their leader is dead.
The emotions are thick, dense—
grief, guilt, anxiety, fear, distrust, terror.
Plus they are also hearing these stories that some have actually seen Jesus.
So add confusion to the feelings in that room.

Then suddenly-- with absolutely no warning--
Jesus is right there.
They are startled and terrified.
That part we understand--
the startled and terrified part when Jesus—
who is dead—
suddenly is standing right there,
right there in the room with them.

Now this is a story that is difficult to understand and accept
with any rational mind.
Jesus has come back in such a clearly human form.
And he’s eating.
It doesn’t make sense.

The body of Christ is so tangible.
They can touch Jesus.
They can see Jesus.
They can hear Jesus speaking: “Peace be with you.”

Jesus does not launch into a explanation
about the what, where and how of resurrection
nor does he provide an itinerary
of where he has been since Good Friday.

Jesus’ appearance says,
“I am alive and will continue to be alive—
through you.”

Just when everyone thought the journey was over,
they begin to understand that the journey is just beginning.
God still has something to say.
God still plans to be at work in the world.

Sometimes we too come upon a time in our lives
when we think the journey is over.
We may have lost someone we love
or lost our job
or lost our health
or our savings
or our home
or a friend.
We think there is no way out of the locked room.

That is never true.
The journey is never over.

Jesus appears to us over and over in real life.
Jesus usually shows up without any warning.
And we like the disciples often to do not recognize his presence among us—
or it takes us awhile.

Jesus does not come as a wispy, misty ghost.
A ghost does not have flesh and bones.
Jesus shows up—
usually in the most unexpected places
at the most unexpected times.

Sometimes we need to open our eyes
so that we might recognize the face of Jesus,
God’s presence among us.
This story in Luke’s gospel asks us to believe
that Jesus will show up again—and again and again.
As Jesus says to the disciples,
“Why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

And then sometimes we need to open our hearts,
get out of our chairs or the pews,
move our feet
and carry Jesus out into the world.

This is one of the gifts of the church—
to be the flesh and bones of Jesus together in the world.
Your hip bone is connected to my leg bone
and my leg bone is connected to your foot bone
and together we are off and running.

We are the ones who are called
to offer food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty.
We are the ones who are called
to wrap our arms around those who are lonely or suffering.
We are the ones who are called
to walk humbly, to do justice and to offer kindness.

We are the ones who are called
to bow our heads and reach out our hands
and receive what we all hunger for so deeply—
Communion with God,
Communion with one another.

A piece of bread, a sip of wine, a bite of broiled fish.
the physical substance is not what matters.
It is the mystery behind and within the substance.
Our hunger for God binds us together.
Our own hunger reminds us that we are the flesh and bones

God feeds us at this rail
so that we might go out into the world and feed others.

Sometimes that food is 300 pounds of canned goods
stacked in the corner of the church
ready to go to Manna Food Bank next week.

Sometimes the food we offer
is showing up in a time of despair or frustration or fear—
be that in our family life
or in our work life
or in our community life—
and being the one who brings “peace” to the table, to others,
that day.

Being the one who eases the fear
or diffuses the anger
or pushes the darkness aside.

To be a witness does not mean we have to climb upon a little soap box
and talk about God day in and day out

To be a witness is to love God
with all our soul and all our might and all our heart
and to take that love out into the world every single day
in our completely ordinary
and absolutely extraordinary lives.

To be a witness is to love God
with all our soul and all our might and all our heart
and when we encounter those who are hungry
invite them to come and be fed,
to come and join
the “flesh and bones” work of God
that happens right here.

Have you anything to eat?
Oh yes.
Oh yes.
Oh yes.

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