A Thriving Spiritual Community

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Annisquam
Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Annisquam
Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

A Thriving Spiritual Community

photo of AVC sanctuary
Sermon: 3rd Sunday of Easter Sermon: “Anything to Eat?

3rd Sunday of Easter Sermon: “Anything to Eat?

April 14, 2024

come-share-in-god's-joy

(*Be sure to click on the video near the end of the sermon)

What do you really think about the resurrection?   How would you describe it? 

Most importantly, what difference does the resurrection make in your life? 

These are tough questions.  Maybe they have you squirming in your seat a little…

I’ve got some good news – even Jesus’ closest disciples struggled to understand the resurrection.  What does Luke say?  “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.” 

Perhaps the disciples’ experience of the Risen Christ was something like our experience of the eclipse. Who among us – except maybe astronomer Dick Luecke or other scientists – can fully explain what happened on Monday?  

Yet, how many of us – even those who did not travel to the path of totality – had an experience of joy and wonder?  Even though we can’t fully explain what happened – why in the path of totality the light isn’t just dark, but sepia toned; why the birds go silent and the temperature drops, our senses told us that we were in the presence of something compelling and sacred

In Luke’s stories, even though the resurrection is more than the disciples can comprehend, he seems to be driving home the point that Jesus’ appearance was not just an apparition. He wants us to understand that the resurrection demands that we pay attention not only to the spiritual plane, but to the physical. 

The resurrected Jesus doesn’t merely say, “look at me.” No, he says “Touch me and see.”

Twelve days ago, my good friend, Tom, arrived at Logan Airport from Wisconsin.  We hadn’t seen each other in about 20 years.  When he came through the door at baggage claim, it wouldn’t have felt satisfying to merely welcome him with a nod or wave.  No, when we greet loved ones we haven’t seen in a while, we need to touch them- to give them a hug. Something inside us registers differently when a loved one isn’t merely in photos or on the phone or on Zoom – as good as that can be – but actually embodied.   Physical presence matters. Touch is one way we know that a person’s presence is real. Alive.

For the disciples, having been witnesses to  Jesus death, to now see him in person must have felt overwhelming. As Luke shares, how could they be anything but startled, terrified, and frightened? 

And what does this embodied Jesus say? He asks them one of the most basic human questions: “Have you anything here to eat?”

Jesus draws the disciples back to the table – back to the center of their shared life together – back to the hallmark of his ministry   and theirs – a place where hearts, minds, and bodies are fed and nourished.  (Isn’t that what we do when we get together with someone who is important to us…we share a meal.  Maybe, like Jesus and the disciples, some fish 🙂) 

Notice that in Luke’s story, Jesus shows the disciples his body and asks for food before he opens their minds to understand the scriptures.  This is a key point.  The interpretive lens through which Jesus invites them to understand  who he is and what his ministry – and theirs!  and ours! – is about, is his body: his wounded, hungry body.  

The stories of the resurrection not only serve to try and convince us that Jesus is really present; they also serve as a powerful teaching, a reminder about the core purpose, the point, of Christ’s mission and ministry – to nourish others – not just spiritually, but physically.

Robert Williamson Jr. writes, “For the Eleven, coming to grasp the reality of the resurrection means paying attention to bodies.  It means experiencing the world around them, not through their own narratives of how the world is, but through the body of one who had experienced death at the hands of the Empire.  They experience resurrection not in their own reading of the scriptures but in the bodies of those who have suffered at the hands of the Empire.”

The stories of the resurrection drive our attention to what is most important for us to know about the resurrection and how we can share in and continue Christ’s mission of love.  The Resurrected One points us to the importance of the body; he points us to the table; he points us to his hunger and wounds.  

The Resurrection of Jesus isn’t merely about some spiritual reality that begins after we die.  

Robert Williamson continues, “…This text is … an invitation to acknowledge the bodily witness of those who have borne the brunt of the Empire’s deathly violence.    It is an invitation to break bread with those who are unfamiliar to usOnly then can we see the power of the resurrection at work transforming the world.

If we think that the point of the resurrection is some kind of supernatural magic – Jesus was dead, he is now alive – end of story – we miss the point.    In his raised body, Jesus asks the disciples    and us to engage in table ministry… “Have you anything to eat?”

One way we can see how the spirit of Jesus continues to be alive – physically present – in our midst, is to draw our attention to those who feed our sisters and brothers, suffering at the hands of the empire (in all its forms), like World Central Kitchen. 

When Russia’s war against Ukraine broke out in 2022, this church community knew that we must do something to bear witness    and to be of help.    Once we learned  about the work of World Central Kitchen, which provides meals at the front lines of the world’s crises, it seemed to be the ideal organization for us to support through our first annual Good Friday Prayer Walk (Stations of the Cross). 

Many of us have been supporting them since.  So, on the day after Easter, when seven World Kitchen Workers workers were killed in Gaza, it felt personal to me – and to many of us.

If the resurrection is God’s way of expressing to the followers of Jesus that we are called to keep our eyes and hearts and minds on the wounds of the world and on those who need to eat, then it seems we ought listen carefully to what the founder of World Central Kitchen,  Jose Andres, had to say in the New York Times, the day after his courageous colleagues were killed:

“Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, John Chapman, Jacob Flickinger, Zomi Frankcom, James Henderson, James Kirby and Damian Sobol risked everything for the most fundamentally human activity: to share our food with others…

Their work was based on the simple belief that food is a universal human right.   It is not conditional on being good or bad, rich or poor, left or right. We do not ask what religion you belong to. We just ask how many meals you need.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYo2R3mQZ2U

“Have you anything here to eat?”  Amen.