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The Third Sunday of the Easter
26 April 2009

A Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Andrew C. Blume

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.Amen.

Micah 4:1-4
Psalm 98
1 John 1:1–2:2
Luke 24:36b-48

Those of you who have come to a week-day Eucharist this Eastertide have heard me, on more than one occasion, muse about the relationship between eating—really, sharing meals—and experiencing (the) Resurrection. I remember feeling particularly elated proclaiming the Gospel on Wednesday in Easter Week and sharing the story of the meeting on the road to Emmaus.

It was wonderful to relive the chance meeting of the two disciples with Jesus, whom they did not recognise. It warmed my heart to hear the two extend to the stranger-Jesus an invitation to dine with them. It was truly exciting to see Jesus take, bless, and distribute the bread and to learn that in that very instant, the two knew exactly who he was. And it always strikes me as so funny and so true that the disciples then claimed to have known all along it was Jesus. I love the story of the road to Emmaus because it says so many fundamental things about what we are like, about who Jesus is, and about how we know him present with us, how we know the Resurrection. Ultimately it was through an invitation to share table fellowship, through sharing a meal, in the breaking of bread that Jesus the guest, becomes Jesus the Host. Jesus, a stranger to the men before the meal, becomes in that now so familiar action of taking, blessing, and breaking bread, truly present with them. The risen Christ, then, become present, recognised, transformative when the disciples sit down at table.

In this lectionary cycle we do not get the story of the meeting on the road to Emmaus on a Sunday. That’s for next year. This year we get a post-resurrection appearance eating story with broiled fish. As we heard in last week’s stories about Thomas, the disciples were gathered together, still not sure what wasreally going on. From one moment to the next, Luke tells us,

Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

As in the story of Thomas, Jesus invites these privileged few to touch him so they may believe. Again like in the story of Thomas we are not told whether people touched him or not, nevertheless they “still disbelieved for joy, and wondered.”

So Jesus asked them a question that might very well have seemed a non sequitur. “He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’” What a strange question that must have seemed to them. Here before them was someone, something that seemed to be Jesus, wounds and all, and he was asking for food. Luke tells us without pause, however, that “they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.”

Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

While eating before them, eating with them—I presume—Jesus “opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” While eating with them, while at table with them, he proclaimed the Good News of his life, death, and resurrection and told them that they were “witnesses of these things,” that they were able from this time on to give testimony about what had happened to them and to the world. After sharing the meal with Jesus, they were equipped to go out and preach the Gospel and do likewise, likewise as Luke reported earlier in his story, to share other meals, share them in remembrance of him.

Again and again in the days and weeks following his resurrection, Jesus joins his disciples at table. A guest, he becomes the host, and as that Host he becomes known and present to them. His presence strengthens them, gives them faith—which is trust, confidence, knowledge—so that they will persevere and tell his story and share more meals with others. Meal by meal, table by table, the disciples helped change the world, brought Jesus’ presence into the homes, into the lives of more and more people. The body of Christ grew meal after meal. The Body of Christ grew organically as more and more people met Jesus at table, first in those nourishing early ritual meals of bread and fish, bread and wine, even bread and milk. The Body of Christ continues to grow in and through the meal we share every week at this table, our Eucharistic, thanksgiving filled meal of bread and wine.

They say that fewer and fewer Americans actually sit down and share meals together. I am not sure whether this is realty true or not. Nevertheless, I do believe that many have lost the connection between the meals we share together at home, in restaurants, on picnics, with the meal in which Jesus becomes present to us here in Church. I also believe that we can all too easily forget the connection between the one here in which Jesus becomes present in the bread and wine and those meals that nourish our physical bodies.

This Eastertide, my brothers and sisters, I challenge us all to reclaim the connection between the Eucharist and all our other meals. I challenge us to see Eucharist in our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, especially those we share with others and to see how the Eucharist began as a meal, at table, when the disciples really knew the presence of their risen Lord “in the breaking of Bread.” For this is a real step on the journey to sanctify all aspects of our lives and live in closer relationship, deeper bonds of love, with God in Christ. Deeper Eucharistic sharing with each other at all times helps bring us closer to that time when, as Micah tells us

they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever

Amen.

Andrew C. Blume+
New York City
Saint Mark the Apostle, 25 April 2009


©2009 Andrew Charles Blume