April 26, 2009 III Easter (RCL/B) Luke 24: 36-48
These first Sundays of Eastertide we keep returning to the events of that day.
On Easter morning this year of course we had St. Mark and his account of the shock and amazement that falls upon the women as they come to the tomb and find nothing as they expected, and the words exchanged with that Young Man in White, and all the emotions of joy and confusion, wonder and disbelief, excitement and terror. The world turned upside down.
Then on Second Easter the scene in St. John begins that evening, the disciples together back in the Upper Room where they had just a few days ago come with him for that Last Supper. Now hiding out, fearful that the police were after them too, afraid even to open a window to catch a bit of the cooling night air. And then Jesus is there, blessing them, sharing with his breath the promise of Holy Spirit and power.
Now here on Third Easter, and over to St. Luke, and it’s that same Easter evening again. Earlier in the afternoon Cleopas and his companion, probably his wife, returning home to Emmaus, which we know to have been a small working class village, a kind of suburb of Jerusalem, home to one of the regional prisons, which was probably its main economic feature. And again, Jesus. This time as a stranger along the road, and with their intriguing conversation, and with the moment of revelation at the table, in the Breaking of Bread, when they suddenly recognized him, and then finally as the two run at top speed back to the city and the Upper Room to tell what had happened.
Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus, 1601
They can hardly get the story out when – there he is again! He seems to be everywhere all at once. Jesus.
The stone is blasted away—which is how I picture it. Not rolled back in some polite, understated gesture, but with the force of an explosion. Blasted away. And with this force and energy beyond any understanding he is here, there, and everywhere.
At once the same master, teacher, and friend, Mary’s son, eating a piece of fish with them at the dinner table, bearing on his body still the marks of his victory, sin and death defeated, the record of the nails, his side scarred by the tip of the soldier’s sword, his shoulders still bruised from the weight of the heavy beam--and yet more than that also, so much more: his body renewed, transformed, empowered. Transcendent. Almost electrifying in his presence. Heaven on earth!
I love what Cleopas and his companion said back in the 32nd verse of this 24th chapter of St. Luke, on their way to this Upper Room gathering: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” Jesus. Rising over us, entering into us. Opening the door for us. Giving us this glimpse into the presence of God himself. Drawing us into this new life, as it passes through him to us, changing us, lifting us up into him. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” .
O Sons and Daughters, let us sing. The King of Heaven, the glorious King, o’er death and hell rose triumphing. Alleluia. The last wonderful echoing sound of the trumpet dies away, the lilies begin to fade, the brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies are but happy memories.
But this Easter refuses to come to an end. Again and again, drawing us into its mystery and power. Here he is again. The morning of the First Day of the Week, the First Day of our lives, the First Day and New Morning of the World and all creation. It is a song to sing.
It is an invitation, for us, to come and see, to open our eyes and our ears and our minds and our hearts. As we meet him in Word and Sacrament, and as the Holy Spirit shows him to us in one another. Friend, Teacher, Savior: Jesus, who is our new life. Our Easter. The King of Heaven, the glorious King, o’er death and hell rose triumphing. Alleluia.
Friends, walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.