Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 Easter Yr B

When Tom and Willie were little boys we would love to go to the Science Museum in St. Paul, MN. It was a great museum because you could touch and feel everything. I suppose that means it is designed for kids, but I like it too. There would be boxes that you would put your hand into and touch whatever thing was in it, and try to figure out what it was. Was it soft or hard, hairy or smooth, round, square, oddly shaped, squishy, slimy, all of these were important questions to figuring it out. You couldn’t really learn about the object, or the animal, or the fossil without encountering it, just standing back and looking at stuff not only is boring but doesn’t really register in the learning centers of the brain because you haven’t accessed all the important learning centers, like touch, smell, taste etc.

Jesus seemed to know all this. This story follows right after the Emmaus story. Be known to us in the breaking of the bread. His appearance in this story at the end of Luke, his words touch and see, even having a little fish snack, should bring us right back to the meals he shared with his friends, he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Appearing to his friends like this, after they watched him die, after they watched him being taken down from the cross, after they watched him being laid in the tomb, must have been so much more than shocking. They thought what they were seeing was an apparition; Jesus had to show them that he wasn’t an apparition, but that he really was Jesus. So he reminds them of what they did together, he reminds them of the meals they shared, he reminds them that each time they bake the bread, each time they combine the wheat, the water, the yeast, each time they smell the bread baking, each time they bless it and break it, they are to remember. Touch and see. Smell and feel. Remember who you are.

Resurrection and resuscitation is not the same thing. This is Jesus that these followers are feeding. It is not a ghost, and it is not some sort of resuscitated Jesus, a Jesus who narrowly escaped a horrific death. This is the resurrected Jesus, the promise and fulfillment of God as revealed in the story of God’s activity in the live of God’s people. We are shocked and surprised. We wish to believe and yet are wary of belief. Resurrection is not about us. Resurrection is about God. Resurrection is about being united with God, being made one, and whole. Resurrection is about being re-membered. Put back together as a new creation. Starting over, starting again, being cleansed, being made new, being made whole. God does all this through this shocking and amazing thing called resurrection. And God begins the new creation with the resurrection of Jesus, and we are participants in the new creation.

Touch and see; the evidence is in front of our eyes if only we put ourselves aside and see the truth. The evidence is in the truth we know and live every day. The evidence is in the seeds that must be buried in the ground and be created new before they can erupt from the ground to become the wheat that becomes the flour that becomes the bread that becomes the body of Jesus broken for us. The evidence is in the transformation of a broken body into a healed body. The evidence is in a life lived in pain and sadness with the constant striving to acquire and have, and the transformation of that life into a life in service to others.

God has begun the new creation in Jesus. God has inaugurated all that God has promised with the resurrection of Jesus. You and I then are participants in the new creation, or the Kingdom of God. There is a moral dimension to resurrection, and it is not about being good in order to go to heaven. If we are in fact re-membered, or put back together as the Kingdom of God, as Jesus’ body was when he appeared to his friends, we have a moral obligation in the here and now. We are called to revere and care for our physical bodies, God will make them new at the resurrection at the fulfillment of time, but what we do with them today bears on being created in God’s image. We are called to revere and care for the earth on which we live, as a living, breathing body that sustains human life as well as animal and plant life. Touch and see.

Another part of the moral obligation is that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in Jesus name to all nations. We are to proclaim repentance and God’s forgiveness. We are to turn back to God, we are to be forgiven for missing the mark, and we are to help others do the same. What an amazing gift we have to give to others. We can help people lay their burdens down. Their burdens of self-criticism, their burdens of greed, their burdens of self-doubt, their burdens of perfection, their burden of not being good enough. All of these burdens which cause us to miss the mark. We can help people see that they are created in God’s image, they are loved absolutely and abundantly, they are the delight of God’s life, and they can turn to God and say, forgive me, and thank you.

Touch and see the new creation. Our call is to show people this reality. Our call is to be witnesses of these things. So how do we go about doing that? Bearing witness to God’s amazing and abundant love for us, as evidenced through the amazing and shocking resurrection, is all about the reality of communion, eating together, and healing. These things we do together are not as a result of our perfection, but are of God’s grace, they are sacraments. And sacraments are an outward sign of an inward reality. We gather together to be sacrament to one another, and we are sent out into the world to witness as sacrament to others.

We gather together and share a meal, a meal of bread and of wine, that are made for us into the broken and resurrected body of Jesus. We are made into a body by the bread and the wine, to witness to a fragmented and broken world of the wholeness and healing that is made possible by the broken and resurrected body of Jesus. What we do here and what we are made into here has everything to do with what we do and who we are at work, at school, and at play. What we do here and what we are made into here make sense only as we go out into the world to bring peace and healing and grace to every aspect of the lives we share with others.

God has already inaugurated the Kingdom, the new creation has begun. Get busy with what God is doing.

Alleluia. The Lord has risen indeed: Come let us adore him. Alleluia.

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