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Belmont United Methodist Church in Belmont Massachusetts

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The On-Going Feast - Rev. Wimmer - April 26, 2009 - John 24:36b-48


The On-going Feast
John 24:36b-48

Maybe it started with the apple. I don't know but I do know that there is something going on here and it involves eating.

This time it is Jesus eating grilled fish with the disciples who not so long ago were running for their lives because his had been taken and they were in fear of losing theirs. They were frightened by what happened to him and then when he showed up again they were frightened all over again. They were frightened by what had happened and by what had not happened frightened as much perhaps by not knowing what is happening even as it is happening all around them. This is honest I think. It must have been bewildering at best and terrifying at worst to be experiencing such convolutions of the expected and usual realities they had known about life and death until that day not to mention the upheaval of all their personal plans for the future and wondering no doubt what was next and what did it all mean to them. Of course they had to eat anyway. But it wasn't just the fish.

Earlier in Emmaus others had broken bread with him and he had explained the scriptures to them. The fish came with an explanation, too. Once again in a couple of sentences he covered the faith history of humankind from Moses to a future day where resurrection from death through repentance and forgiveness would change the world forever.

This brings to mind another meal, one he had before his death in an upper room. Again the scriptures were involved, it was passover for heavens sake, and Jesus broke bread and drank wine with his disciples and offered life to those who would join him in holy communion.

Even earlier it was bread and fishes again that Jesus fed the multitude, a meal that was a miracle of sorts, the sort of thing that reminds us of the heavenly banquet that is promised for when we all sit together to eat in the fullness of time where the last will be first and the first last and the feast will last forever in joy. It is the feast that goes on, the one we mention when we feast on bread and wine in his name even now. Even the not yet is part of this story.

And there were other meals of sorts less ballyhooed, meals with outcasts and sinners and the poor and the despised of every sort. Meals in which persons lived were changed forever where people literally were raised to new life because they ate with him, because they were with him, because he shared not only food but a word with them, a word of healing, of enlightenment, a word of life.

It goes back though, if not to the apple, then to Abraham and the angels who Sarah served between fits of laughter and they told of new life coming to those who were as good as dead already. There was also the manna in the wilderness, manna from heaven blessing the less than lovable beloved who were complaining about the accommodations in their new life of freedom from slavery. And of course the cake the angel provided Elijah in his moment of need. Ah, the Scriptures tell a story and it is the story of life. The scripture itself is a feast of life.

Buechner once asked "what can you do with an empty tomb? Well you can know when Easter is over. Easter symbolized by an empty tomb is easy to remember but it kind of stays where it is and where it is in our memory and will always be somewhere else, something that happened once upon a time. But the scriptures were not recorded to be stuck in time. The story, like the feast, is on-going, including the future that is still to come, including our own stories that are just now happening.

Perhaps Easter is better celebrated as an on-going feast. With the on going feast you never know when the risen Christ will show up to eat and open the scriptures to our unseeing eyes or where someone, anyone will rise to new life!

It is only time and space that separate any of these meals from one another or from our own times at table together and time and space are obviously not a problem for Jesus to overcome. The resurrection could happen anywhere anytime. The risen Christ could be everywhere and/or anywhere, on the beach, in a closed room, on the hillside, at the altar in the church, at our own kitchen table, in the soup kitchen or the house full of hungry children that is falling down in the slums of the world's poor, even in the city dump where whole families dig for food, even the bombed out ruin of a home caught in the middle of war. The risen Christ could be there with us if we were there too standing in the midst of the needs of the broken world and raising us all to new life.

We celebrate Easter by eating together and sharing scripture until that day when Jesus risen from the dead and standing in our midst, overcomes every time and space and everything else that separates the tables around which we gather wherever we are. And where he is present in us and in others he brings new life to every table, to every place where the hungry are fed and the despised are loved and the lost are cherished, where the outcast is welcome home, and the poor finally receive the comforts of God's blessings. And all is well. All is finally well. And all will finally be well, the not yet being included in this on-going story and feast.

The on-going feast of Easter will continue until everyone is included and our hearts and souls as well as our stomachs are full and satisfied and blessed forever. It would appear that we are not there yet but that is where we are going. Eat and drink the life and love of God and be merry.

There is something going on here and it has something to do with eating, with the happiest meal of all. Thanks be to God for the on-going feast of Easter! Pass the bread of life, please, and lets eat!



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Belmont United Methodist Church is a Certified Welcoming Congregation


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