Saturday, May 3, 2014

3 Easter Yr A May 4 2014

Audio 5.4.2014

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. From the moment My journey in the Episcopal church began, this is the scripture, the prayer, the action, that made the presence of Jesus Christ real for me. There is nothing about church, about community, about family, about faith, about social justice, about baptismal promises, about a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is not contained in this little collection of words, if only we can recognize. Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread.

As a child, I lived in a community of people. I am five of eight. There were most always people around, and the liveliest times of the day were our dinner meal. We would scrunch around our kitchen table, someone would have to sit on a stool at the counter in order to get us all in. I wonder if then I recognized the wonder in all that chaos. When my extended family would gather for holidays there were 23 of us grandchildren. We would enjoy a meal together, but not much quiet. Often many of us little one’s would end up staying the night wherever we were. I wonder if then I recognized the purity and innocence of those relationships. 

And you all know that this summer Rick and I, and Tom and Amanda, and Willie went on an incredible journey, and among many amazing things we did, we met some of our Norwegian relatives. They were as happy to meet us as we were of them. A cousin, Jan, took us to see the land on which our ancestors farmed. We were profoundly moved as we stood on that land, and felt the timeless connection to those who came before us, and those who will follow us. We recognized that connection, that story that joins us all together. At Jan's home, we ate a wonderful meal of Norwegian porridge, and pork, and cheese, and bread, of course. The next day we gathered with my cousins Kjell and MaryAnn, and had waffles with cloudberry's.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. 

It makes so much sense, as we journey together through this life, that breaking bread together is the central activity for us. The most radical activity that Jesus engaged in was to invite people to a meal. And everyone got that invitation. Not only were there religious leaders, there were tax collectors, there were women, single women at that, women who were protected by no one. At table Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. At table Jesus disrupted the social order. At table, Jesus nourished not only the body, but the spirit and the soul as well.

When we gather together at this table we come from home and work and school; we come from far away and down the street, we come and we tell our story, and we tell the story of God’s activity in our lives; we tell the story of creation, blessing, turning away, God loving us back into relationship, repentance, reconciliation and restoration. We tell the story of life, death, and resurrection. We tell the truth.

The story that we know and we tell, is about how God saved God's people from the flood waters, and God freed God's people from slavery in Egypt. God brought God's people out of exile back into their land and God came to live and die as one of us, Jesus is in our midst.

We read and we study and tell these stories. We listen and talk about what God did and continues to do in this world. We tell these stories to our children. And we do because they help us remember who we are. We remember who we are and we recognize one another and we are recognized in the breaking of the bread and the prayers. We give thanks for our blessings; we ask for healing for ourselves and others, we eat together.

That is what happened with the two in our story today, who were walking away from Jerusalem, dejected, alone, afraid. Wondering what it was all about, wondering how it all went so very wrong. And the one who told the story of Moses and all the prophets, who told them the story of Jesus, joined them. They invited him to stay, he did, they ate together, and they recognized him. 

We recognize Jesus in the people with whom we gather to share and tell our stories, and the stories of our faith; we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we see Jesus in the hands, and in the eyes, and in the faces of the people at our sides as we come to this table to eat. 

But we also recognize Jesus in the stranger, we see and hear Jesus in those who are out there, those who continue to live in isolation, in loneliness, in hurt, in this broken world. We recognize the freedom, the peace, the community, that can be theirs as well.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of bringing the food you all provided to the Habitat for Humanity Apostles build site, and giving the devotional in the morning before the build day began. It was the women's build day, and I knew quite a few of the women who were building. After bringing food for lunch, I stayed and enjoyed the company of those amazing women, from churches all over Rapid City. And it dawned on me, Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. There we were, and there it was in our midst. The reality and the recognition. At times it seems so mysterious, and in this moment it was real, Jesus' real presence in the breaking of the bread. 
Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. Help us to recognize you in word and sacrament, in story and in food, help us to see you in the midst of this community, and help us to see you in those we greet each day. Help us to be agents of your new creation, standing on the ground that you have already won in your resurrection.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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