Luke 24:36-48

April 19, 2015 by Ken Dale

Last Sunday we heard from John?s gospel about the risen Christ appearing to the disciples who had gathered behind locked doors in fear. Jesus greets them with peace. It?s a simple but very powerful fact. After their last supper together, they let him down big time ? fell asleep during his greatest hour of need in Gethsemane, betrayed him, deserted him, denied him and abandoned him when he is crucified. And when Jesus shows up again after the resurrection there is no anger, no shaming, no mention of any of it – just peace. A fine example to be challenged to follow for us all.

Luke?s gospel has a couple of great stories of what happened on that first Easter. The first is when Jesus appears to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. He talks with them, teaches them but they do not recognize him until he breaks bread with them. It is then that their eyes are open. This is followed by the story before us today which is similar to the story from John last week. As they are talking about the Emmaus road Jesus stood among them and said, ?Peace be with you.? The text says that they were startled and terrified. Well, of course they were, thinking him to be a ghost. As with John?s story he shows them his hands and feet and their fear turns to joy but they were still wondering. What is new in this story that is not in John?s is what happens next. Jesus says, ?Have you anything here to eat?? And they give him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence. Imagine that ? with all they?ve been through Jesus pretty quickly says ? ?hey, you got anything to eat??

I think for years this little passage has been important in the pondering of what kind of body Jesus was in. The point is simply that Jesus is real in their midst. But I think there?s more to it than that. What follows is Jesus ?opened their minds to the scriptures.? They undoubtedly had some very meaningful conversation. I bet they reconnected in some very wonderful ways.

Isn?t that what happens when we eat together? And isn?t that why eating together is so important. Such a simple thing! But isn?t it amazing how powerful simple things can be? Just this past week someone flew a gyrocopter onto the front lawn of the capital building in Washington DC. We can probably only begin to imagine the high tech security that exists since September 11, 2001 ? but one man on a gyrocopter cruses right in! Simple things can be powerful. Eating together can be powerful. Yet present day families find it a difficult thing to do. I wonder how many of you eat in front of the television ? breakfast with the morning news on ? supper with the evening news on? Sitting at a table without the tv gives way for conversation. How many families today insist on sitting together at the table ? making it a priority over other activities ? a special challenge for those with busy kids.

Then there are those who would relish the opportunity to eat with others, sharing a meal together with someone because they live alone.

Something happens when we sit down together face to face and share our food and share our stories. Our lives connect and we get to know one another. Great friendships often find their beginnings over a meal. I remember in seminary, Sunday evening meals were not served and we who lived in the dorm had to find alternatives. For most of us money was tight ? I remember eating a lot of Lipton instant soup ? it was quick and easy and inexpensive. Sometimes we?d pile into someone?s vehicle and go to the Oronoka Restaurant where all we had to buy was a beverage and they had free hors d?ouvers. We ate well ? but we also had wonderful conversations and got to know each other. Sometimes married couple students would invite us for dinner and we really got to know and appreciate each other.

In the scriptures there are many stories of Jesus eating. He gets in trouble for eating with sinners yet he also eats with prominent leaders. He eats in homes like with Mary and Martha and he eats out in the open country such as when 5,000 ate together sharing 5 loaves and two fish. In Luke 9 we find in that story that they were broken down into groups of 50 ? I don?t know if that?s a small group but it?s a lot smaller than one group of 5,000. Eating together is a pretty intimate thing to do ? who knows where the conversation will go.

It is after all more about the people and less about the food. Pot luck suppers at church are important for that reason ? and with the great cooks we have in this church it?s important to try to remember it?s about the people not the food. Fellowship coffee following worship is also an opportunity to build that sense of community or family if you will within the church. It is also an opportunity to make visitors and those new to the church feel welcomed as we get to know one another.

Yet another thought comes to mind. It adds another dimension to the support we offer those in need when we donate to the Ecumenical Food Pantry ? we are enabling the possibility of families sitting together for a meal where those conversations will happen and the bonds between family members will be nurtured.

For many years there was a CROP Walk held on the Pemaquid peninsula under the leadership of Ruth Ives. CROP Walks support the good work of feeding the hungry world wide by Church World Service and a percentage of the funds raised actually come back locally. After Ruth?s death efforts to keep the CROP walks going were futile but last year under the leadership of Barbara Wright and the UCC Church in Bristol 8 churches worked together to raise over $5,000. So this year we will be more intentional about being part of that ? details are forthcoming. But I think it?s interesting to add this other dimension to the food we are providing ? we are also providing opportunity for people to eat together ? over a meal ? and build community. Such feeding feeds body and soul as we share the gift of life together ? even with all its struggles and challenges. Surely God is at work in and through us ? as God?s grace continues to flow into this world. So ? let?s do lunch ? or breakfast ? or dinner ? and don?t forget there?s a bake sale today after church!