A sermon for Easter 3
Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36b-48
Today is the third Sunday of Easter, one of my favorite. I recount a bit of the Gospel story in every invitation to communion “… to encounter our risen Lord in the breaking of the bread.”
I always look forward to the Emmaus story. I guess I’ll have to wait ~ let’s see 2 more years. But, today’s Gospel reading is from Luke; and this is the Emmaus story; it’s just the part after Cleopas and his traveling buddy, with their hearts afire, get back to Jerusalem. It’s just after their initial shocking opening gambit to the disciples, that they have seen Jesus, and his self-revelation in the breaking of the bread.
You know what happens next, Jesus appears, offers them shalom or peace, and they react with fear and doubt. When we look at all the resurrection and appearance stories there are all kinds of witnesses, from Mary, and Mary, Salome, and Joanna, to Peter plus 1, and Cleopas plus 1, who all witness some sign of Jesus’ resurrection. They have two common elements, well okay three if you count Jesus; first there is doubt, and secondly there is fear. I asked last week, I still wonder why are the disciples are afraid?
Have you ever thought that maybe they should be? Maybe we should be? David Lose writes “If you don’t have serious doubts about the Easter story, you’re not paying attention.” (Lose, 2015) At the least you’ve got to ask “What does it mean to your world view, when the dead don’t stay dead?” Perhaps the most disturbing answer is, as Jacob Myers notes, is that “Jesus’ resurrection means that what he said was true. (Mayers, 2015) Love your neighbor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, all that stuff about how we treat each other, especially the people we don’t like or think are somehow inferior, or unrighteous, or unworthy, all that … Jesus actually means it! I know we participate a little. But Jesus’ resurrection isn’t about a little, his resurrection is about a complete change in how we live our lives. He bears the marks of crucifixion on his resurrected body. (Mayers, 2015) We bear the marks, or should, in how we live our lives, (Jacobson, Lewis, & Skinner, 2015) every hour of every day.
We shout “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” and go about life, with a satisfied smile on our face. There is so much more to resurrection. (Jacobson, Lewis, & Skinner, 2015)
Let’s stay just within this morning’s text. Jesus unexpectedly shows up, offers the disciples peace, or shalom. You’ve heard me expound on this before, and know shalom is so much more than peace, how it’s really much closer to the perfection of all human interconnections; actually all human and creation interconnections. They exchange a few words, and Jesus asks them for something to eat, and they give him a piece of fish. Many expound on this as a sign that Jesus is real, and not a ghost. However, the very next thing Jesus does is to open the disciples’ minds to understand the scriptures, about the depths of Moses and the Law, and the Prophets, revealing how repentance and forgiveness is to be proclaimed in his name, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. He then tells them, “You are witnesses of these things.” If Jesus were really worried about the disciples believing he was real, he would have made the observation that he ate the fish.
He doesn’t. So perhaps everything that follows his request for something to eat, reveals what Jesus is really hungry for. (Kubicek, 2015) Perhaps Jesus is really: hungry for change, hungry for freedom, shalom and justice for all people, not just some, not just the priest, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, or the Roman occupiers, but shalom for all.
C.B. Baker, in Becoming Messiah, builds the intriguing case that Jesus’ and John’s time with Essenes revealed just how corrupt Jewish life was and triggered an intense a compelling drive to change it all. (Baker) Step one in Jesus mission to change the world, is his ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem. Step two is the resurrection. Step three is the disciples bearing witness, ~ and our bearing witness. So these fifty days of Easter, is not some long grand celebration that Jesus lives, nope, it’s really the time in which the disciples come to grips with being witnesses. Today these fifty days are a time for us to do the same thing. And it begins with our confessing our tendency to reduce the Christian faith … to slogans, bumper stickers, four spiritual laws, forty days of purpose, or seven basic principles of this or that. (Kubicek, 2015) It begins with how we allow ourselves to be distracted with the easier matters of doctrine, and how we create crises around issues like sexuality. (Epperly, 2015) All of this which distracts us are so much easier than risking self for justice for all; which looks like fair wages, realistic immigration policy, really family friendly policy and law, a critical review of traffic tickets for profit schemes. All of that which distracts us is so much easier than demanding that lives matter, white lives, black lives, male lives, female lives, adult lives, child lives, Christian lives, Jewish lives, Muslim lives, Hindu live, Buddhist lives, all lives, all life, matters. All that distracts us is so much easier than risking our possessions for righteousness for all because everyone is a child of God. And all this raises questions:
- is shalom a greeting or a command?
- what are you hungry for?
- will you be satisfied with a piece of fish or will you be witnesses to the full glory of our Lord’s resurrection? (Kubicek, 2015)
I am glad there are fifty days, or how ever many days are left, of Easter. I am thankful, for the many – many unexpected witnesses to the resurrection. I sing praises for all the astonishing marks of resurrection. And whenever I see them, whenever I hear “Christ is risen!” my heart and soul echo in reply “Alleluia!” Amen ~ let’s make it so.
Baker, C. B. (n.d.). Becoming Messiah.
Epperly, B. (2015, 4 19). The Adventurous Lectionary. Retrieved from Pathos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly
Jacobson, R., Lewis, K., & Skinner, M. (2015, 4 19). Sermon Brain Wave. Retrieved from workingpreacher.org.
Kubicek, K. A. (2015, 4 19). Sermons that Work. Retrieved from The Episcopal Church.
Lose, D. (2015, 4 19). Easter 3 B: Resurrection Doubts. Retrieved from David Lose: http://www.davidlose.net
Mayers, J. (2015, 4 19). Commentary on Luke 24:36b-48. Retrieved from Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/