He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia! Sermon on the Road to Emmaus – Christianity is material, not spiritual

Alleluia Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

Emmaus-e1456333921903.jpg
Emmanuel Garibay. Emmaus, 2000. Oil on canvas. 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of Harry and Pat Wallace. https://imagejournal.org/article/recognizing-the-stranger/

 

To complete my sermon series this year on the 5 senses I am preaching this sermon on the Road to Emmaus at Choral Evensong tonight.

I wish you a very Happy and Joyous Easter!

Jesus appears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus Luke 24: 13-35

“I’ve heard it said that Christianity isn’t spiritual (or, I would add, intellectual) it’s material. You can’t even get started without a river, some bread and a jug of wine.”

This Holy Week we have been in our sermon series on a journey of the senses, we experienced the fragrance of the perfume filling the whole room on Monday, remembering how smells can transport us to a particular place or time in an instant and how we carry fragrance with us, the fragrance of love. On Tuesday we used our sense of sight as we gazed on images of the cross – that image of suffering and hope. On Wednesday we thought about how Jesus is encountered through a meal – through our tasting of bread and wine, reflecting on the words of the psalmist, taste and see that the Lord is good. On Thursday we considered the power of touch to transform, the touch of Jesus which we receive and pass on to others, showing them their worth and value, letting them know that they are loved. On Friday we heard the sounds of the crucifixion, we meditated on the voices crying out and the voice of Jesus crying out from the cross, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ We journeyed through Holy Week using all our senses. This evening we have just heard the story of another journey. A journey of two disciples on the road out of Jerusalem. Two friends trying to escape the horror of all that they had experienced in watching the man in whom they had put all their hopes, arrested and killed before their eyes. This journey becomes one in which their whole being has to be involved. They begin the journey talking and retelling the story of the horror of watching Jesus tortured and killed. They are in the fog of grief. They are at that stage where they keep having to tell and retell the story of what happened. They have even heard the women tell them that Jesus is alive but their minds cannot comprehend it, the truth hasn’t sunk in, hasn’t permeated the fog of their grief. Then the stranger on the road begins to teach them about the Messiah, explaining to them using the scriptures that this was part of God’s plan all along. They are engaged intellectually in conversation and something is nagging at them as they walk and so they want to hear more and urge the stranger to stay for the evening. They go into the house for a meal and the stranger takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it and at that moment (not when they’re having the intellectual conversation, not when they’re recounting what the women told them) but at that moment that the bread is broken, that visceral moment when the crack is heard, the crumbs tumble to the floor, at that moment their eyes are opened. They recognise Jesus at the point that their whole being is engaged, sight, smell, taste, touch, sound.

Our faith is a material not spiritual faith. It’s at the breaking of the bread that Jesus is recognised, not at any other stage – although all the other elements of the journey add up to this point. The penny drops. Oh to see their faces when it does!

This is why the way in which Jesus told us to remember him was by sharing bread and wine. This is why when someone comes to faith they are dipped in the water of baptism. This is why when someone is sick, we go to anoint them with oil. Jesus is made present to us body, mind and soul, our whole selves. It is our whole selves that will be resurrected with him. We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Jesus eats some fish in front of the disciples – and a bit later in John’s gospel, he cooks a barbecue on the beach for his friends. We don’t meet God in dry intellectual argument. We meet God through the material, through sight, touch, sound, smell, taste. It is our whole selves that Christ redeems.

So let’s celebrate the fact that Christianity isn’t spiritual it’s material. We can’t even get started without a river, some bread and a jug of wine! Let’s celebrate by eating too many chocolate eggs, drinking a little too much wine for Christ is Risen, He is alive and we will be raised with him, Alleluia!

 

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