Good Eats

Bread of Life, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

It is said, we Lutherans will talk and share all about having a good time at a restaurant much more than we’ll talk about God or Jesus. In other words, we’d rather talk about food than faith. Well since that’s oftentimes the case, let me tell you. It was for an anniversary or some other special occasions. Brad and I made our reservation at a fine restaurant. We get dressed up, get there, are seated at the table, handed our menu, and then the server asks if we would like to start with a glass of wine. I said, “No thank you”. Well, let me tell you the meal went downhill from there. The server asked again if I wanted wine at least 2 or 3 more times. I believe I was pregnant at that time, but I didn’t feel like I needed to justify or defend my decision. Anyway, then when it came time to order, well my choices were let’s say not to the server’s standards. It was probably something like I wanted blue cheese dressing on my salad, and then an entrée with a cheese or crème sauce, and he promptly suggested I order something else—that that was too much cheese. Well, the food was excellent, but the meal was ruined.
We all know, there’s more to a meal than just filling our stomachs and consuming calories. We are hungry for more than just tasty treats. We sit down whether it’s around a table, in a both, or even on the floor like Jesus most likely did with his disciples. We need to feed more than just our bodies. Sometimes we’re hungry for a nice conversation, or maybe we just want some peace and quiet, maybe we’re hungry for family.
This is one of the strengths of Community Night. It’s not just a meal program. It’s not just to feed people. We are trying to build a community St. Paul’s, our neighbors. No matter how much money we have, we are all hungry. The same is true in today’s story from the Luke’s gospel. Now first of all when I read the gospel, if it felt to you like we started somewhere in the middle of something, you’re right. So far in the Easter Sundays we’ve heard from Mark, last week from John, and now from Luke. This story is part of all the events of that first Easter day. Jesus isn’t at the tomb, but he does show up and walk with 2 of the disciples (who don’t recognize him). They walk and talk all the way to the town of Emmaus, they then sit down, he takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and whalaa they’re eyes are open and they know it’s him—it’s Jesus. He disappears, and these two run all the way back to Jerusalem to the rest of the disciples and are telling them about seeing Jesus, about walking with him, talking with him, about the bread, when Jesus appears and that brings us to the “Peace be with you” he greets his disciples with this morning.
The point is, Jesus is resurrected. He’s not a ghost. He’s got a body, but see it’s all brand new. It’s something so new, this resurrection thing, is so new we’ve never ever seen it before. The wounds are still there, but they don’t slow him down. In this story, Jesus eats some left-over cooked fish. Now it wasn’t that he was hungry from that long walk to Emmaus, and his return to Jerusalem. He’s eating because the disciples were hungry; they were hungering for something to make sense. They needed that meal to calm their fears, their confusion, to give them purpose and direction. That meal, even though it’s just a bite fish was more about the experience of love and forgiveness of Jesus than about the food.
So another memorable meal I’ve had was at a tiny restaurant in Rome. My husband and I were travelling, and we were using one of this guy Rick Steves’ guidebooks. And we were hungry we’d been running around Rome sightseeing all day, and in this guidebook Rick suggests a particular little restaurant. Well luckily we find it, through the door with our guidebook open in our hands. With that the owner, manager, server I don’t know, I don’t speak Italian, and his English wasn’t great—he greets us, grabs the book, closes it, gives it back to us and maneuvers us to a little table. There are people all around us. We are not handed a menu, but quickly brought something to drink, and then offered plate after plate of food. We looked around us watched in wonder as each table was served, it seemed not all the same things, it was like the people of the restaurant somehow knew just what was needed. One table with a couple ate just a few things and then moved on while others like us seemed to sit through course after course—the place was filled with smiles, laughter, and warmth. We were truly fed.
Much like today. You see this day is a very special day for us. Five of our children, young people will join us to receive their first communion. In so doing, they will take a bit of bread, taste a bit of wine. This will be new to them, but there’s so so much more here than just that first taste. This is for them and for us, a first course in a much bigger meal. It is a taste of the joy that will happen with the feast that will have no end. But until that time, because Jesus knows that his disciples are still hungry. We are still hungry, we are still hungry for welcome, hungry for forgiveness, and meaning, direction, and purpose. We are hungry for peace in our hearts, in our relationships, our families, our neighborhoods, our world. We are hungry for love.
So Jesus invites, calls, pulls to this table. Now I said just a moment ago that this is a special day for us, I said that very specifically—yes it is so important for these children but it’s also for us. For while, at this meal, we will not be completely filled, it will not magically remove all of our hunger, our questions, our pains. But we will be fed; we will be welcomed, and this meal will be deeper and better because we will see God in action in the lives of these young people, and together our eyes will be opened, and we will recognize that Jesus is here, among us, that we together are fed, forgiven, and loved—this is the meal we share. Amen

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