The Scripture Reading this week is Luke 24:13-35
The Sermon title is Known in Bread
Early Thoughts: How is the Risen Christ recognized? What breadth of things might Easter mean?
Most of us associate the experience of Easter with the empty tomb stories. However a further reading of Matthew, Luke and John (Mark's original ending only has an empty tomb story and the women fleeing in fear) suggests that people experienced the Resurrection in a variety of places. Matthew and John suggest that some only truly got resurrection once they went home to Galilee. Luke and John suggest that a meal (in John a fish meal following a miraculous catch of fish, in Luke a simple breaking of bread) was a part of the Easter moment for some.
Which brings us to this week's story.
Two people traveling away from Jerusalem. A third joins them (the text is not clear--does he overtake them on the road? or does he just appear?). In response to a couple of questions they pour out their fear, their grief, their uncertainty, their shattered hopes following the arrest, trial and execution of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which cues the stranger to explicate Scripture to them, to review what those old passages might mean, to open their hearts to the possibility of Easter. Later the two will realize how their hearts burned during this part of the journey. Is this burning the fire of hope taking hold? Is it the Spirit stirring the embers back into life?
Then the journey comes to an end. It is evening. As a simple act of hospitality the two encourage the stranger to stay with them. But then...
The stranger takes on the role of host at the table, and as he breaks bread he is revealed as the Risen Christ.
It wasn't in the hearing from the women who went to the tomb early that morning that Cleopas and friend felt the reality of Easter. It was not from the reminder of what Jesus had foretold. It was not in the detailed exploration of Scripture they heard along the road. It was in the Breaking of the Bread.
Gathering at table was a marker of the Jesus community throughout the Gospel account. Gathering at table remains a marker of the Christian community for most of us. We trust that we meet God at the table. We Break the Bread and we share the cup and we remember Jesus. But we also meet Jesus, the Risen Christ, the one who invites us to the table.
I suggest that it is not only at the Communion table that this is true. I suggest that, if we are open, if we allow our vision to be cleared, we meet Jesus at a variety of tables. Maybe at the lunch following a funeral. Maybe at the church picnic. Maybe at the community BBQ.
There is an old joke about the United Church (or sometimes about other denominations -- this version comes from a Methodist source).
A kindergarten teacher gave her class a "show and tell" assignment. Each student was instructed to bring in an object that represented their religion to share with the class.We sometimes laugh about the fact that so often in the church we find an excuse to eat together Personally I have been known to refer to the Sacrament of the Potluck. But maybe it is not a joke. Maybe we eat togehter so often because we know that in eating together we build community. We know that in eating together we meet Jesus, the Word made Flesh, the Risen Christ.
The first student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Benjamin and I am Jewish and this is a Star of David."
The second student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Mary. I'm a Catholic and this is a Rosary."
The third student got in up front of the class and said, "My name is Tommy. I am Methodist, and this is a casserole."