__Scripture-sharing and Communion.__
THIRD SUNDAY IN EASTERTIDE, APRIL 30, 2005.
First Congregational United Church of Christ (Open and Affirming),
Santa Rosa, California. The Rev. Robert F. Cramer, Eucharistic Minister.
_HE STILL ASKS, “DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING HERE TO EAT?”_
__They said, “The Lord really has been raised … . While they were talking about this,
he himself appeared among them and says to them, “Peace be with you.”
But they were terrified and frightened, and figured that they were seeing a ghost.
And he said to them, “Why are you upset? …
A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you can see that I have.”
And while for sheer joy they still didn’t know what to believe
and were bewildered, he said to them,
“Do you have anything here to eat?”
They offered him a piece of grilled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them.”__
_Luke 24:34, 36-38a, 39c-43,_ Scholars Version.
As we gather at table on this Lord’s Day, re-living the excitement (perhaps) or the bewilderment (perhaps), or both, of resurrection and the Realm of God which goes way beyond anything we can actually touch and feel … another “appearance story” is apropos:
__When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there,
with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them,
“Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore,
full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them;
and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”__
_John 21:9-12a,_ New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament.
Yes. “Come and have breakfast.” There is food already prepared, but Jesus is issuing an invitation to Eucharist, the celebration of a special reality that transcends the ordinary, or transforms it. The disciples eat, as we shall in just a few minutes.
In these and other stories Jesus comes and goes. Isn’t it just like the life we know? It seems he’s gone; gone for good—but wait, no … Yes! Here he is! Onlookers see our joy, and wonder; but we know.
__When Jesus is here, we seem to share food as always, and yet it’s food from another world__—the world already changing from the world we’ve known into the Realm of God.
Jesus teaches whenever he appears, and what he teaches boils down to this: he is always here whether we see him or not. When he calls us to the table, it is a call to replenish our spirits, to feel the God within. As I was writing this, I remembered that “the God within” sounds heretical to lots of Christians; but guess what: no less a star of conservative Christianity than C.S. Lewis has written:
__They met him again after they had seen him killed.
And then after they had been formed into a little society or community,
they found God somehow inside them as well,
making them able to do things they could not do before.__
_From C.S. Lewis,_ Mere Christianity.
Maybe the God within does sound like New Agers’ determination to jettison a distant deity, but it is foundational to my faith. I have known people who are sure that God never changes, God never hungers. If God is alive in me—God’s spirit, anyway—we have a reciprocal relationship: God nourishes me, I feed the spirit in me.
I do not eat, or live, alone. Lewis’ “little society or community” is in fact the living Body of Christ. We grow as we are fed. _Let’s pray:_
__As bread that was scattered on the hillside, was gathered together and made one,
so too, we your people, scattered throughout the world,
are gathered together around your table and become one.__
__As grapes grown in the field are gathered together and pressed into wine,
so too are we drawn together and pressed by our time to share a common lot
and are transformed into your life-blood for all.__
__So let us prepare to eat and drink (as) Jesus taught us:
inviting the stranger to our table and welcoming the poor.
May their absence remind us of the divisions this Eucharist seeks to heal.
And may their presence help transform us into the Body of Christ we share.__
_Janet Schaffran and Pat Kozak, in_ More Than Words.