Shared feasting | Luke 24:36b-48

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Today Jesus asks the disciples for a bite to eat. Though they’re gladScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 3.10.18 PM to see him, they’re not sure it’s really him. They knew him for dead. It’s only natural they struggle to believe he lives: risen from the dead. So he asks for something to eat, and they give him a bit of broiled fish. In this way, they share what they have with him, and he eats it. And in this way, they come to believe in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. It’s another way of saying, he was known to them in the fellowship of eating. And also within the fellowship of friends.

This story follows the pattern of Holy Communion. There is the love offering of what God gives us. And given to Christ, it becomes nourishment for the Body of Christ. There is the Spirit itself sanctifying us and sending us out for holy work in the world. As an old Frenchman once said, Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell what you are. We eat Christ’s Body in order to be Christ’s Body.

The table fellowship of Holy Communion claims we are what we eat: we are the Body of Christ sent from his table to forgive others and to share our lives in his name. Tables always mean to tell us we’re here to share what we have, to pass the bowls along until everyone is fed. On the surface, Holy Communion seems easy enough.

There’s always enough to go around, right?

But get us out there, outside the walls of this church, and it can seem harder. Read more

In Christ | John 20:1-18

They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.

Every spring preachers bump their heads up against the Easter Tomb. Or, at least, I do. Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 2.24.38 PM
As if I was trying to solve it. As if the stone were still in place and I needed to roll it away one more time. Easter, though, is not a problem. Not mine. Not yours. It’s a mystery. And mysteries in the Church are not only signs of life but ways of living.

I think it’s why this particular day finds people dressing up in bonnets and flowers or wearing a new tie as if you were (as indeed you are) a new creation in Christ. It’s like saying Easter is something you have to walk around in, something you need to wear, like a heart on your sleeve.

As a young mother, I used to lay out my children’s Easter clothes on Holy Saturday.  I’d pull the dusty laces from my son’s Buster Brown shoes, and wash them. I’d iron their clothes and dress their empty baskets with ribbons, little knowing I was standing in a long line of Easter dressers. Read more

Powerless |Mark 15:1-39

Lent always lands us on the road to Jerusalem, a city of deep prayer and terrible Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 3.28.03 PMviolence. And today we’re finally there: here with Jesus in Jerusalem. This year the road to Easter came with its own odd turns. If you’ll remember, we began Lent with Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day. Out ahead of us Easter Sunday will arrive on April Fool’s Day. And today the Sunday of the Passion, what we mostly call Palm Sunday, shows up on March 25th, a day customarily set aside to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation when an Angel said to Mary, Fear Not, the Lord is with you. And for an answer, she said, Let it be. Read more

hidden hymn | John 3:14-21

Against God and against Moses, the people said, “There is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”  The Book of Numbers

Those words are the likely source of an the old joke about the woman who complains in a restaurant to a friend. This Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 3.39.37 PMfood is awful, she says, and her friend answers, Worst thing I ever put in my mouth, and the portions are so small. In the Book of Numbers, the people tell Moses they have no food, or at least nothing they care to eat. In search of new life in a promised land, they are busy complaining.  Their complaint is familiar to us, the sort of words any of us might say on a long roadtrip in a car full of candy and crackers and empty cans of Coke. Absent snakebite, the only cure for backseat whining is turning the radio up loud.

Apparently, you can have too much or not enough, and all of it can prove miserable.

The “miserable food” the Israelites are tired of eating — the food they no longer recognize as nourishment — is manna from heaven. They’re tired of the holy provision of God to be had in their very midst. In their impatience, they fail to see what’s there to feed them. It’s an old story. Chronic complaint spoils a life. As symptoms go, it tells you your soul is unhappy, tells you your life is crying out for change. Read more