Easter 3 – April 15, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie  Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48

– Christ is risen!

– How do we know? Because the risen Jesus is present…

– Where? Everywhere. And in meals, and in words that we hear and share… and in the flesh and bone of being together…

– Eat and trust and witness to this hope and even joy…

In all three yeas of the lectionary rotation of readings, the third Sunday of Easter is always Jesus eating with his followers.

The disciples are discussing with one another how Jesus had appeared to two of them on the road and in breaking bread…

– and Jesus appears among them saying, “Peace be with you.”

– they’re startled and terrified, thinking they’re seeing a ghost…

– Jesus questions them about their fears and doubts, and invites them look at his scars, to touch him and see he is flesh and bone

– and then Jesus asks for something to eat and eats with them…

Eating together is a critical way for the risen Jesus to be present to his followers… including us…

And we need the presence of the risen Jesus now as much as anytime…

– in the bus crash of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and the 30 lives immediately affected and the thousands, millions more with them, we need the presence of the risen Jesus…

– in the continued attacks and deaths of Syrian people and the politics of lies and counter lies by men vying for power… we need the presence of the risen Jesus…

– in the hungry and homeless in our city and the desperation and hope to find a different way to live, in poor conditions for Indigenous people… we need the presence of the risen Jesus…

– in the battles over pipeline expansion and the complexities and escalation, the self righteousness and hypocrisies of politics… we need the presence of the risen Jesus…

– to concerns around the world that no longer make the news, to local and personal struggles with suffering and death and grief… we need the presence of the risen Jesus…

People hunger for God, long for God’s presence to bring comfort and peace and hope and even joy again…

– and it’s in the meals with Jesus that his followers are restored, have their minds opened, to be witnesses of these things

And isn’t it still true, in the meals our minds are opened… Jesus is present to respond to our fears and doubt with peace, and the hope of risen life together in God…

At the 2017 Festival of Homiletics, that took place in San Antonio, Texas, under the theme “Preaching on the Borders,” Claudio Carvalhaes spoke about the struggles of immigration…

– he spoke about the reality for many people on the border between Mexico and the United States, of being separated from loved ones and community, with increasing restrictions on crossing, and more fencing, if not a wall, that separates people…

(As another example I learned yesterday that the number of Syrian refugees that the United States admitted in 2017 is 11… this is not our chance to boast about how great we are in Canada… we have much more to do, many errors to correct…)

– As he spoke, a video played behind him of a Holy Communion worship taking place across the border fence between Mexico and the US…

– People gathered on both sides, musicians on both sides, a table separated by the tall wire fence, on both sides…

– and they celebrated the Holy Communion meal together, shared the peace of Christ with hands clasped through the fencing… and passed the communion bread through the fence to one another…

– in one Holy Communion meal, beyond human made borders, beyond fears and doubts, the risen Jesus is present in the meal, present to open minds and hearts to the flesh and bone reality of our communion with one another in God, beyond borders, our separations, in all our diversity and our common humanity…

– we need the presence of the risen Jesus in our fears and doubts to bring hope and even joy in our disbelieving…

The Shelbourne Community Kitchen, a partnership of our church and two other congregations and two community associations is gathering many people to share meals, and grow food, many times each week…

– food cooked and grown by participants together, learning and growing in communion with one another… often with fears and doubts, struggles and hungers for food and community…

– the membership is now 636 participants and volunteers…

– the meals are shared through programs like:

– Tuesdays Take Home Meals, with classes on making Buddha bowls, fajitas, and salads as meals…

– Wednesdays Learn to Bake from a Pastry Chef, with Sweet and Savoury Scones, Stress Free Savoury Pies, Mother’s Day Pies, Muffin Madness, Breakfast Cookies and Super Dough…

–  Thursdays What’s For Dinner, with Spring Chicken and Dumplings, and Incredible Soups

– and Fish Dinner Al Fresco, Guy’s Night Barbeques, and more…

(Who’s hungry right now…)

All of this meal making and learning and sharing and community and taking food and connections and hope home… and the risen Jesus present in all of it – yes?! …and we are called to be witnesses to these things, and that means where possible joining in communion with others in these meals, on the borders, at the Community Kitchen, the Rainbow Kitchen, Our Place, any place that gives us the opportunity to offer a meal, share a meal, with others, especially the hungry, for food and for God, like us, and vastly different from us…

Sara Miles, in her book, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, an exploration of her journey of conversion in the community of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and the food program that she initiated out of that parish that challenged her and the community to see the connection that food shared with the hungry and homeless was as much Holy Eucharist/Holy Communion as the meal shared in Sunday worship and that both were essential… writes:

All of it pointed to a force stronger than the anxious formulas of religion: a radically inclusive love that accompanied people in the most ordinary of actions—eating, drinking, walking—and stayed with them, through fear, even past death. That love meant giving yourself away, embracing outsiders as family, emptying yourself to feed and live for others. The stories illuminated the holiness located in mortal human bodies, and the promise that people could see God by cherishing all those different bodies the way God did. They spoke of a communion so much vaster than any church could contain: one I had sensed all my life could be expressed in the sharing of food, particularly with strangers. And, There’s a hunger beyond food that’s expressed in food, and that’s why feeding is always a kind of miracle.

We are witnesses to the wonderful, fearful, challenging, hopeful connection between these meals, on the borders, in our own and other Community Kitchens, anywhere the hungry are fed, and this meal we share here,

– that the risen Christ is truly present in these meals offered in his Spirit, that all would be fed, that flesh and bone bodies would be fed with good and enough food; and that fears and doubts and hungering for God would be fed with the spiritual food of Jesus himself given for the world, given for you, given for all…

– this is how Jesus’ presence and words here, opens our minds, opens our hearts, opens our lives to share, because we are witnesses to these things…

In truth, we’re all about feeding and food… hospitality following worship, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Wine before supper at UVic, simple Lenten soup suppers, Epiphany ecumenical meals and learning together, Luther House meals for other students, and more… the weekly Holy Communion meal, Communion brought to those at Luther Court and to those who can’t come to worship in the flesh, meals together, meals with and for others, feeding hunger in flesh and bone, in body and spirit, God feeding our hunger, the risen Jesus present, in our fears and doubts, joy and disbelieving, bringing hope and peace. – We are witnesses of these things and called to ever share our food with a hungry world. Christ is risen!…

Amen.