Sermons 2006
"How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Easter 3B 2006 Luke 24:36b-48

Years ago there was a story about a man in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was electrocuted when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help, friends and neighbors, police, the whole shebang showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the airwaves.

In the middle of the night, the judge came to. He realized where he was, and rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified.

His first thought was to phone his wife and reassure her. But he got no further than, "Darling, it's me," when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors but they all thought it was some sort of sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends but they were all sure he was a ghost. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn't heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. (1)

How do you prove you are still alive? Interesting question, is it not? It was Jesus’ problem. Mark’s Gospel suggest that for him and his people, the empty tomb alone sufficed. But the other gospels suggest that the evidence of the empty tomb wasn’t enough. They record that the testimony of the angels in the tomb wasn’t enough. And for people like Thomas, even the report of the other eleven disciples that they had seen the Risen Lord wasn’t enough. I’m not certain that much has changed over the centuries.

Even though Year B is the lectionary year in which we generally read the Gospel according to Saint Mark, from time to time we switch to one of the other three, For example, there are no Christmas stories in Saint Mark – it jumps right in with John the Baptist in the wilderness – no manger scene, no wise men, no angelic chorus singing in the heavens to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. Saint Mark is a strictly just the facts sort of Gospel – it ends with the empty tomb – no other elaboration on the resurrection, no reports of resurrection experiences. For Saint Mark that was enough.

So we turn to the other gospels for reports of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. In this case we go to Saint Luke, the most complete of the synoptic gospels.

All gospels need to be understood on several levels. In our gospel lection for today, this resurrection appearance is in the context of an archetype of the Early and future Church. The disciples are gathered together in one place, even as we assemble on Sunday mornings as a community of believers, a small part of the company of all faithful believers. Disciples gathered together, then – and now.

The Good News is proclaimed, then – and now. The peace is exchanged, then – and now. A meal is eaten, then – and now. And most important of all, the Risen Lord is among them, then – and now.

This is one level of understanding.

At the same time, Luke reports a no frills, down to earth story: The disciples are hungry, so they broil fish. When the resurrected Jesus appears, they are afraid; they think he is a ghost. A human reaction – if it is a ghost, then it is only a disembodied presence that will go away perhaps. Much safer than a Risen Lord, easier to deal with, and possible to ignore.

But Jesus makes them see the Reality of the Resurrection of his body. He orders them to look at his hands and feet where the scars of the Crucifixion are still open wounds. He makes them touch him, to feel his flesh and bones. He eats food among them, with them. He tells them that the prophecies about the coming of the Messiah – the Good News – are to be taken as seriously as his Resurrection.

But even that isn’t enough. Saint Luke uses an odd turn of phrase: “in their joy they were disbelieving and wondering.” It seems to convey the sense of the question, Can this really be true? Still a question for many people if more proof is demanded.

It’s that question of the hard work of faith: Jesus’ words to Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

This is not about some spiritual force, some zeitgeist; this is about a flesh and blood Savior. Whether we believe it or not, the Risen Christ stands next to us, shakes our hand, eats with us, walks with us through joy and sorrow.

The Risen Lord seems to be saying to us, “Don’t let the miracle of the Resurrection get in the way of our witness to the world; don’t let questions about the reality of the Resurrection hinder the practical reality of faith in the work I have given you to do.”

And on a deeper level, all the gospels have this message for us. To live AS IF. To live AS IF Jesus were to come and stand among at any unannounced time.

Of course the disciples were terrified. There was Peter, who had denied his Lord not once but three times to save himself. There was Thomas who had publicly declared his stubborn doubt about it all. And all of them, who had bee very conspicuously absent from the foot of the Cross. None of them had recognized their Risen Lord at first sight.

I suspect we might be terrified, too. In our comfortable lives, the sudden appearance of the Risen Christ in our midst could very well be discomfiting indeed.

Garrison Keillor once said, in one of his famous Prairie Home Companion soliloquies, "My people are not Paradise people. We've lived in Minnesota all of our lives and it has taken a lot out of us. My people aren't sure they'll even like paradise: not sure perfection is all its cracked up to be. My people will arrive in heaven and stand just inside the gate, shuffling around. It's a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be, they might say. We'll say, "No thank you, we can't stay for eternity, we'll just sit and have a few minutes of bliss and then we have to get back!" (2)

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”


1. From Bruce Larson, Living Beyond Our Fears (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), as quoted in eSermons illustrations for Easter 3B 2006.
2. as quoted in eSermons illustrations for Easter 3B 2006.

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579