Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Easter 3B

Luke 24:36b-48

36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, [and of a honeycomb] 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.
Easter is 50 days, a week of weeks, 7 times 7. The third Sunday of Easter is the fifteenth day of the fifty days of Easter! The day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter.

Over the past few months we've experienced and discussed the examples, actions, instructions, and counsel Jesus gave his followers during his earthly ministry. But during the forty days (more or less) after his resurrection he needed to show them more; they still needed to learn how to be, to act, to serve, to be Jesus' crucified and risen presence. So for those approximately forty days he again walked the earth in a fully human body that showed scars from his crucifixion, in a similar way to how we serve and act as Jesus' presence on earth. Remember, we've been baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection; in baptism we've already received our first death and second birth.

Today's reading from (almost) the end of Luke's gospel again demonstrates Jesus' full humanity with the restoration of his physical body, though clearly it now has another dimension—we have accounts of Jesus' suddenly simply appearing in ways that weren't possible before his death and resurrection. Among other things, today's reading includes Jesus' second Last Supper. Most English bibles translate verse 43 to say Jesus took the fish and ate it in their presence, but more recent scholarship says they all ate the fish together. This sums up well Luke's emphasis on table fellowship throughout his gospel; people have observed Jesus always seems to be going to a meal, feasting at a meal, or coming from a meal in Luke!

This year's lectionary doesn't include the Emmaus Road account from immediately before this in Luke, but there and in today's lection Jesus again interprets scripture. As Christians, we read all scripture (both Hebrew Bible /Old Testament and New Covenant /New Testament) through the lens of Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Although it's not an ultra-major concern, Luke's ongoing emphasis and this reading's confirmation of Jesus' full humanity helps negate heresies of gnosticism (over-emphasizing the spiritual) and docetism (Jesus only appeared human).

As this year of grace continues through seasons of Easter and Pentecost, we'll hear many stories of resurrection, healing, and restoration. We can remember the risen Christ carried scars and evidence of the death he'd experienced. God gives us the Spirit of Resurrection as we continue our ministry as the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. Not only do we ourselves as individuals (and as a community, too) already have quite a few scars; God particularly will call and enable us to help heal the earth. We've already discovered rivers, canyons, prairies, cities, and other aspects of natural and built environments can be revived and revitalized, but like Jesus and like us, they still will bear scars and other evidence of their pasts.

Next Sunday we'll be going off-lectionary to celebrate Earth Day 2018—the 48th, so two years from now will make fifty years of Earth Days! Let's all bring a story, a picture, a hope, or a dream related to Earth, its waterways, or critters, the sky, any aspect of creation. Every year I design for Earth Day, so I'm planning a presentation of my art and design for the past dozen earth days.

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