Flesh and Bones
He is risen. He is risen indeed. This is the theme of the Easter Season. Jesus, who once suffered and died, has risen from the dead; sent the Holy Spirit to establish and empower the Church; and is living proof that life is stronger than death; good is stronger than evil; love is stronger that hate; and no sin is beyond God’s forgiveness and resurrection power.
This week a part of that theme is Jesus was not a “ghost” or a “spirit” but was and is a resurrected body; and has made his living body, the church.
Luke really emphasized this point. It must have been a controversy when he wrote in his gospel; whether Jesus was a resurrected body or a ghost or spirit. It is a central point of Christianity. Jesus who suffered and died has risen from the dead and is flesh and bones.
Luke starts with having Jesus appear to the woman at his tomb. He walks with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize him until they invited him to eat supper with them. When he blessed and broke the bread, they knew it was Jesus. He immediately disappeared.
They went back to Jerusalem to tell the rest of the living disciples that indeed what the women proclaimed was indeed true. Jesus is alive and loose in the world but not limited to the limits of walls and location.
The disciples in Jerusalem are astounded, and while they are discussing what this might mean, Jesus appears in their midst.
I think it is important that Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” I am certain he was the last person they wanted to see. On Thursday night most of them abandoned him and hid behind locked doors. Bottom line, Jesus is saying; “There is a new reality. You are forgiven, and soon I will be giving awesome power through the Holy Spirit.”
Knowing they are afraid he is a ghost; he says give me something to eat. They gave him some cooked fish, and he ate it.
Remember I told you things would make a lot more sense after my death and resurrection. I have been sent by God to hold in my arms a broken world. I was sent to forgive people who seek forgiveness, and let the world know we are all siblings and need to look out for each other and treat each other as God’s special children.
Brothers, and sisters; I am here to let you know that just as God sent me to forgive and show the way back to God; I am now calling you to do likewise. Don’t worry I will be there to empower you through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For now, wait in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit will come to empower you in your ministry.
And so; it has been ever since. There is another aspect to this command that he has given to the church. We are called to look out for the marginalized, the homeless, the hungry, those who have lost meaning in their life.
My first church was in a rural community in Ohio. That community had a volunteer fire department and rescue squad. All the fire fighters and first responders were volunteers, who spent some time every week being trained in firefighting and emergency victim care. Most of these volunteers attended the church I served and there was a fire phone in the back of the church in case a call came in during worship.
We are part of a church body that looks out for the welfare of immigrants and refugees. Through the LIRS a church I served in Charlotte sponsored three refugee families: two from Cambodia, and one from Poland.
We live in an area in which the faith community spearheads helping people who are in difficult straits. In HIgh Point I know two; “the Father’s Table” and “Open Door”. In Greensboro the Urban Ministry helps people with food, clothing, housing, and even finding a job. Churches come in and feed the residents of “Potter’s House”, and some even offer worship services.
Good Will and Salvation Army were also started by the faith community.
The church even supplies chaplains for Hospitals, Hospice, Jail, and Prison.
There is a ministry called Kairos that goes into prison with messages, music, and great food. The goal is help them grow as Christian disciples; especially to grow in the area of forgiving others and themselves.
We are being called and empowered to make and grow disciples of Jesus. We are called and empowered to be his presence in the world, whether it is being a teacher, business executive, medical staff, or hauling away the garbage away.
On TV I saw a car in a drainage ditch. It has been swept there by a torrential rain. Two men were driving by, and they saw the driver stuck in the car. They jumped in without regard to their personal safety and saved the driver. It’s actions like these that members of Christ’s body are empowered to do and given the courage to try.
One thing that really helps me as I attempt to be Christ’s presence in the world. There will be times when I don’t know enough to act but know I must act. There are times when I attempt to represent Christ and I fail. That is when I trust in God’s gift of forgiveness that is even for me. Knowing Christ covers my mistakes and failures gives me the courage to try.
Yes, Christ has risen indeed and we are his flesh and bones in the world today. Let’s go forth singing in our heart. He has risen. He has risen indeed. Amen.