Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. DeeAnne Lowman, Associate Pastor

 

 

 

 Lunch with Jesus After Easter

April 26, 2009

 

 

Luke 24: 36-48


Dee

Rev. Dee Lowman

 

Many years ago I came across a book called Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life.  The title comes from a poignant story of children during World War II.  Many were left orphaned, hungry and starving; a few of the more fortunate were placed in refugee camps where they received care and could have regular meals.  Many of the children were so traumatized that they were unable to sleep because they feared waking up and finding themselves without a place to sleep or food to eat again.  The caregivers could not comfort them.  Eventually someone came up with the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold on to during the night.  The children slept peacefully after that, knowing that “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”[i] Food is such a huge part of our existence – our world economy, our daily living, our emotional states, our expendable income and the not-so-expendable incomes of many of the world’s poorest people.

 

My uncle is a farmer in Iowa.  He graduated from college in the late 60’s and went back to the farm to take over the family business – a farm that a few years ago was recognized by the Iowa legislature for being the longest running family-owned farm in the state.  He said that it wasn’t just a love of farming that drove him to the land. He wanted the assurance that, no matter what, he could always provide food for his family.  And he always could and still does.  When I lived there, occasions like birthdays and holidays were celebrated by the giving of food produced in the garden and fields of my uncle's home.  I saw where it was grown, prepared, preserved. This experience, in large part, has led to my decision to eat more simply and eventually become a vegetarian.

 

Of course, being a Methodist all my life, I have been taught that food is the third sacrament in our tradition.  I was born into the long-held institution of table fellowship.  What matters in life happens or is shared around the table in the presence of food, family, and friends.  Life dreams are revealed, sorrows are acknowledged, wrongs are confronted, celebrations are observed.   This isn’t just in my family, or just among Methodists, and it’s not just a modern day design.  We remember images of table fellowship throughout the Scriptures.  Manna is sent so that the people of God can eat and live and rejoice.  Ruth and Boaz fell in love at a meal with the reapers and gleaners of the barley harvest. In the book of Ezra we read of the celebration of the Passover – a meal designed as a storytelling device to keep the history of the salvation of God’s people alive in the ensuing generations.  The Psalms speak of tables being set, not in the company of family and friends, but in the presence of enemies.  In the Gospels, we learn about table fellowship from Jesus and his disciples, sometimes without even a table; a hillside with loaves and fishes.  Jesus ate with sinner, tax collectors and even some folks who were not so offensive to society or strict temple traditions.  After the long walk from Jerusalem to the elusive town of Emmaus, Jesus became known to the folks he'd walked miles with only after he sat down to sup with them.  And the eschatological scene – the heavenly banquet is a place where all are welcomed to share in the eternal meal.  Food and folks together throughout the Scriptures.  This must mean that the Methodists are the chosen people, don't you think?

The image of sharing of food in the Scripture passage that was read to us this morning is no different.  The disciples were distressed; this was their first encounter with the risen Jesus.  These were the same disciples who thought the tale of the empty tomb was an “idle tale” told by crazy or at least grieving women.  So as far as Luke's gospel is concerned, this is the “hey guys, the girls were right. I'm outta that tomb and walkin' around” conversation.  But instead of getting all heavy and theological on them right away, he just shows them his hands and feet and asks if they've got anything to eat.  It kind of weird that Jesus has to ask; most of the time the disciples are kind of obsessed with finding and eating food. But they were so surprised, they completely forgot the manners their mothers had taught them.  So Jesus has to ask for something to eat.

 

So now the table talk begins.  Jesus reminds them all how they got to this place and time, reliving the many historic markers throughout time that have lead them all to this place including the death and resurrection of, well, himself. Then Jesus says something very intriguing; “You are witnesses of these things.”  Well, actually the disciples were not witnesses of the death or resurrection of Jesus. Most of them kept their affiliation with Jesus on the down low since things had gone south with the whole Jesus is King of Kings thing earlier the previous week.  There's no indication that they've gone public even yet with their connection to Jesus.  So why do you suppose Jesus said that they were witnesses to all this? Was he rubbing it in that they had abandoned him at his hour of need, but that he kept his promise and came to them?  I don't think so.  In fact, Jesus emphasized the notion of both repentance and forgiveness in his table talk – not just for them, but for everyone.  Jesus wanted them to witness to what the promise of God really is:  life goes on and God is with us.  Yes, Jesus was walking and talking and eating, but the real story was that God's people and followers of Jesus were called to get up from the table and go out.

 

Jesus led them all back to Bethany, blessed them and left them. Then they all returned to Jerusalem with great joy, the locale of the disastrous events of the previous week. They went to the temple – again a place of conflict and opposition to the teachings of Jesus – and there offered their blessings of thanksgiving to God. These were incredibly risking choices, but they were empowered by their lunchtime encounter with the Risen Jesus to leave their makeshift campsites and move back to Jerusalem and be thankful.

 

I'm presuming that, during that lunch and during that blessing, the disciples figured out what gave them life. They experienced their resurrection, their new life.  Easter wasn't just the morning that Jesus came to life after dying; so did they.  The lunch was more than food for their bodies; they received nourishment for their lives and their very souls. The food from Jesus was so good they were driven to return to the hostile town of Jerusalem and to proclaim their new life in Christ. 

 

There are days I need to have that kind of lunch with Jesus.  I need to be reminded of my place in the story of history and tradition.  I need inspiration, encouragement, even resurrection. I need to remember that life goes on, and remember what gives me life. 

 

David Anderson in his book, Breakfast Epiphanies, recounts a great story of a friend of one of his parishioners.  He was at a church supper and his parishioner approached him and introduced her friend to him.  The woman reached out her hand and said, “We've met.  Do you remember me?”  Anderson admitted that, no, he didn't.  “You witnessed the signing of my will,” she said.  After a moment, it hit him; yes he had seen her before. Four years ago he was visiting someone in the hospital and was called into the room of a dying woman whose family needed a witness for the signing of her final will and testament.  But here she was, this was the same women, only she was pink and healthy and here eating at the church supper!  He was taken aback, and blurted out, “You didn't die.  Why didn't you die?”  The woman said she didn't know why she didn't.  All she knew was that she had lost the desire to live and her life was slipping away.  She didn't even feel like eating anymore.  The nurses would put the trays of food in front of her, but she wasn't interest.  Then one day they brought her favorite meal:  mashed potatoes and gravy and meatloaf.  She ate a little of it, then a little more.  It was then that she realized that she needed to eat in order to live. After that, no matter what they brought her, she ate it.  Four years later she was alive and well and enjoying a church supper.[ii] 

 

What would Jesus say to you at your seaside barbecue that would help you to live?  What is the meal, the sustenance that would give you that real and true sense of life again, renewed or perhaps for the very first time? What blessing do you need to receive, and where would Jesus tell you to go to and proclaim about your new life?  And then with whom are you called to share table fellowship – to encourage or inspire, or even help give a sense of new life? 

           

 

 

www.foundryumc.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[i]               Linn, Dennis et. al., Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, New York: Paulist Press, 1995, p. 1.

[ii]               Anderson, David, Breakfast Epiphanies, Boston: Beacon Press, 2002, p. 123-124.