Re-Members – Sermon for Easter 2

He couldn’t remember.  He couldn’t remember it.  It’s not that he had forgotten, not that the memory had slipped away like so many do these days.  You know, some of us better than other just how tricky or slippery our memories can be. But it just, it wasn’t there; it hadn’t been and couldn’t be, because he Thomas, just about all the other disciples wasn’t there.  He hadn’t actually seen the nails tear into Jesus’ flesh, he hadn’t seen the cords of rope wear and burn through Jesus’ skin.  He hadn’t seen him that first time when the risen Jesus showed up to the disciples.

 

We’ve always heard, we’ve always read and been told that Thomas was the doubter, the one who needed to see to believe, but it doesn’t have to be that way, what if he needed to see, not to believe, but to remember.  Perhaps he wanted to fill the holes in the story with his touch, perhaps he just needed something solid to save him from his guilt at abandoning Jesus.

 

There is no shame in wanting more than just listening to others talk about Jesus.  There is nothing bad about wanting to experience, to remember, to have a memory of your own.  For it is true that our memories shape us.  In so many ways.

 

Steve Jobs, you know of Apple, computers, iPods, I phone’s, and I pads.  He is quoted as saying, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

 

Steve jobs could say this because in 2003 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he died about 8 years later in October of 2011.

 

Remembering, like this isn’t just the ability recall facts, details, names and numbers.  this isn’t a mere intellectual exercise, but to have an experience, a tangible, touchable, memorable thing, a remembering that impacts how we live, changes how we see the world, the people around us.

 

That is, as studies have shown what the younger generations are looking for.  They see no reason to join a church unless they are able to really engage love in real connections and relationships.  They don’t want to talk about Jesus or have someone like me talk at them about him.  They are a lot like Thomas.  Not

             Not that they want proof.  No they aren’t looking for someone to discover Noah’s ark, or Indiana Jones to recover the ark of the covenant.  But also not to just be told, to sit and listen to someone talk about Jesus, to even sing about Jesus, no matter how fancy or hip, isn’t going to cut it.  They are not looking to see Jesus on screen or stage, but to touch him and to be touched by his body even today.

 

To be able to remember the touch of love that is so real it rips a hole in our heart.    Isn’t that what we say here every week.  Do this in remembrance of me. This kind of remembering isn’t just the mark it on the calendar, acknowledge it happened along time ago in a far away place.  No this remembering is different.

 

This is the kind of remembering that allows you to see the wounds, the scars of others.  This is the remembering that allows us to look even at our own selves at those places that are rough and ugly, at the pains.   The remembering that we do here together is a healing that goes beyond any medicine or therapies.  This is where we remember into today what peace looks like, the peace that overcomes fear.  That is the peace that will hold the hand of a stranger, hold the hand of someone who doesn’t look, think, speak, act, even smell like you do.  But to simply be touched and to touch in love.

 

In this remembering we actually heal the dismembering that happens so much in life.  We don’t have to pretend we’re perfect here, that we have it all together here. Like those disciples in our gospel this morning we’ve all got those things we like to lock up and hide, for fear they may get out.  But the risen Jesus comes to us every week and says, just as he did for Thomas that day and says, “Touch, feel, my body given for you.  Now go out and give yours away too, take what I have given you forgiveness, mercy, welcome, and peace and share that with everyone.  That is what is most important, that is a memory worth touching, that is a memory worth keeping, that is re-membering.

“Missed it by that much”

I’m back from a break (stressed out & vacation).
Here’s is my sermon offering for you. Of course, remember this is an oral event not a dissertation.

As the famous Maxwell Smart would say, “I missed it by this much.” As most of you are probably aware, my family and I were on vacation and we spent several days in Washington DC touring the monuments and museums. While at the Smithsonian I had hoped to see a few things—the original Kermit the Frog, Dorothy’s Ruby shoes, Archie Bunker’s chair, Amelia Erhardt’s plane and Julia Child’s kitchen. Well, I missed Julia’s kitchen by one week. You see it was off exhibit, closed for renovations and re-opened this past Wednesday the 15th, in honor of what would have been this famous TV personality and chef’s 100th birthday. To honor Julia Childs, one of the radio programs on our Public Radio channel 89.7 WUWM aired a remembrance which included someone mentioning the time that Chef Child cooked tongue.
Well, I didn’t really watch Julia that much, and I never tried her recipes, and this may make some of you cringe, but I did eat tongue as a child, and in the car with my two boys hearing that on the radio brought back a flood of memories.
Meals and food have a way of doing that, of impacting our emotions and memories. Food isn’t just a way for our bodies to get energy as in calories and nutrients. If you were fortunate to be here last week and listening to Pastor Phetsamone’s sermon about food and communion, you heard about the wonderful power of this meal to evoke warm feelings of being loved of being truly home.
And if you were paying any attention today, as I read John’s words of Jesus, you can probably guess that’s not what’s happening in our Gospel for today. Not in the least, well, that’s unless you are some kind of zombie or cannibal monster, because Jesus isn’t talking about nice or dainty dining. No he’s talking about chewing on his flesh, his body, his blood.
Now if you just went “Yuck, that’s gross” in your head. You’re not the only one. In fact, the early early church, the first followers of Jesus were sometimes accused of cannibalism, because as they sat down together on the first day of the week, the first day after the Sabbath, to worship, to sing songs, to pray, and to have their meal together, in the midst of all that they said—Jesus said this is my body, this is my blood –take eat, drink, given and shed for you.
It is no surprise that many of our sisters and brothers in the faith take what Jesus says to us, take what we’ve been doing as a church week after week for thousands of years and say well it’s not really body, it’s not really blood—we’re really remembering what Jesus did for us. Kind of like you know a birthday celebration.
Well, if you’ve ever wondered what’s really at the heart of us being Lutheran, it isn’t the color of our skin or our hymnal, it’s not the songs we sing, or the dishes we serve at a potluck—it isn’t being German or Nowegian at all. No it’s our belief, it’s our holding on to, this mystery (because we also can’t exactly explain) how Jesus is really right here with us now, as he said he would be, giving us life, forgiveness, grace—all the stuff we need right now.
Jesus says to us, you know life—I mean true life, the one of discipleship of following me—a life of gratitude, of thanksgiving, of forgiving, of radically welcoming the least, the lost, the lonely, of admitting our fallenness, our sin, of forgiving ourselves and others—that eternal life stuff in the here and now, that’s tough (real tough) it’s as we say damn near impossible, so I’m giving you my all, my life, my body, my blood –giving it to you each time you gather together. That’s what makes it special, not the frequency or infrequency—because Lord knows and as good Lutherans we know we’re not good—that is, well, because more often do miss it by that much, we miss the mark, we sin; we are part of sinful world and systems that can be out of our control. We are broken so badly we can’t always fix ourselves; we can’t just pick ourselves up—communion isn’t something we earn or deserve. It’s something we need. So we need this, we desperately and definitely need this. Holy Communion is Jesus saying over and over again—taste and see the goodness of the Lord, hold onto, take into yourself consume this love, forgiveness. Jesus offers us again and again, and today is no different his love and life for us–his body and blood –his life for us, given for you. Amen.

You’ve got a beautiful Body

“If I tell you you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me.”  My husband has told me that’s from a song, but I first heard those words as a child spoken by my mother.

Yeah,that’s the kind of home I came from.  No wonder I entered the ministry.

Putting all the inappropriate innuendo aside.  I’ve got to say “You’ve got a beautiful body.”

Yes, I mean you dear reader whoever you are, whatever size or shape or color or whatever you are.  You and your body are beautiful.

While our bodies are not perfect, we are rockin’ some amazing feats of mechanics, biology, chemistry, etc. and so forth. The body is part of God’s good and glorious creation.  It isn’t something to be ignored and despised.   But,     and this is a big but.  Our bodies are not to be worshipped.  Nor are they to be objectified. It seems we can’t get it right.  On one hand we abuse the body with all sorts of unhealthy living and activities.  On the other we judge people by their bodies.  In the church we have been guilty of separating the body from the soul.  We have exploited some body/spirit dichotomy.  It’s as if all we will hear on Sunday morning is Paul’s words about punishing his body to enslave it.  All our talk, preaching, and singing of disembodied souls reuniting with lost loved ones behind pearly gates misses God’s emphasis on healing in the present.  For the last several weeks many of us Christians have been hearing stories of healing from the Bible.  This coming Sunday is no exception.   Our first lesson tells us the story of Naaman’s healing from 2 Kings 5.1-14.  Our reading from Mark’s Gospel tells us that a  leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-42)  God doesn’t despise the body and seek to simply free us from these earthly fleshy casings. God doesn’t despise her creation. Matter matters from the smallest drop of ocean water to richest and most influential celebrity and in between–everything and every body.