Easter 3 Year B

Sermon Title: Easter 3 Year B
Date: 15th April 2018
Preacher: Rev’d Wendy Pullin
Church Calendar Date: Easter 3 Year B
LectionaryReading: Acts 3:12-20,Psalm 4, 1 John 2:15-17, 3:1-6, Luke 24:36b-28

Dear friends, I’m never going to starve in the parish of St Paul, Canterbury!

I know this for a fact. In the past 10 days I’ve experienced an amazing, generous and wonderfully hospitable parish afternoon tea. Then, between Services on Sunday morning I was offered gourmet Raisin toast, and tea made just the way I like it. The adventure continued with Sunday lunch; delicious soup and excellent company! Before Parish Council last Monday, my gourmet journey continued – this time with a glass of wine and delicious pizza – and some serious business!

You are all amazing!

After a week like that, it’s hardly surprising to discover that even the Gospel reading revolves around food. To know that, you have to crib a bit and discover what it was that the people gathered in the upper room were talking about when they suddenly discovered Jesus in their midst. The answer – is food, and a shared meal. It’s about the person some disciples met on the road to Emmaus and invited in for a meal. And it’s about what happened next. The stranger (who they said ‘made our hearts burn inside us while he was talking to us on the road’ Luke 24:32) had taken bread, blessed and broken it – and ‘their eyes were opened,’ and they recognized Jesus.

Not surprisingly, they hot footed it back to Jerusalem to tell ‘the eleven and their companions who were gathered together.’ It’s hard to imagine the mood when those Emmaus disciples breathlessly arrived back in Jerusalem. ‘Their eyes and hearts were opened’ to things they had previously not really understood about Jesus. When they arrived there was already perplexity in the upper room, with the report that Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter (and also the women, though they are not specifically mentioned here).

Then, ‘While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ (Luke 24:36) Just as in last week’s reading from the Gospel of John, ‘they were startled and terrified.’

 This final section of the Gospel of Luke throws us straight into a mystery.

Dispelling their fear, Jesus offers his followers proof that he is not a ghost – that he is truly alive in their midst. He brings the gift of Peace; shows them his hands and feet; invites them to touch his body – and asks for and eats a piece of broiled fish.

Significant as all these things are, it is what happens next that finally convinces his followers. Just as he did at the meal at Emmaus, ‘he opened their minds to understand the scriptures’ before commissioning them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem.

His disciples are ‘witnesses of all these things’ (of all that he’s taught and done in the Father’s name and of his own death and resurrection) and soon they will be clothed with power from on high, equipped for the task for which they have now been sent. When Jesus ultimately departs from his disciples they return to Jerusalem with great joy, continually worshipping in the Temple…. and waiting for the power they are promised from above.

What do you make of all this, I wonder?

Is the Crucified, Risen and Ascended Jesus real to you … and how is Jesus relevant to life in Canterbury in 2018 and to this faith community?

These are big questions – and important ones, too. How we answer them shapes this community and points us to our ongoing ministry and mission.

When we meet together, what is on the Menu? Of course, we are always going to eat the delicious food that this community so generously shares. That is part of our culture here – and we can all rejoice in it!

I’m not so sure we’ll ever serve ‘broiled fish’ – a first century meal that clearly satisfied Jesus and convinced his disciples – even if it resembles the Good Friday meal traditionally eaten at my house, rudely known as ‘Mum’s Yucky Red Fish Stuff!’

But, what I’m getting at is that we need something more. We need to enjoy the food Jesus offers if we’re going to thrive as a Christian community.

When Jesus met his disciples in these resurrection experiences, two things stand out. The first is that he when He took bread and broke it – and shared it with his companions – they knew him in the breaking of the bread. The second is that on every occasion, he opened the scriptures to them in such a way that his listeners arrived at new understanding and were richly and abundantly fed by all they heard. They were blessed and encouraged and ‘their hearts burned’ with the reality and truth of His words. Through the scriptures Jesus offered them food indeed, a banquet that was and is both life sustaining and life giving. It’s in the scriptures that we read the great Covenant promises of God to his loved people. It’s in the scriptures that we can understand the true identity and mission of Jesus. It’s in the scriptures that we can find encouragement on our own life journey and discover our own true identity and purpose.

I love going to the Markets; browsing the stalls; discovering something new; wondering about the taste of things I’ve never encountered before; bravely buying delicious fruit with an absolutely horrible smell; trying new cheese (sometimes VERY MOULDY cheese). People from absolutely everywhere shop in Markets. The world gathers there, buying their bread and enjoying all the abundance and variety of the food on display.

When hungry people come to St Paul’s, what will they find?

It goes without saying, they will find some delicious food . . .   but . . .  will they find what they are truly seeking? Will we also feed them with the food that will last and will they find us energised and enthusiastic and full of joy because the Risen Christ is in our midst?