Easter 3, B
Do you know the work of Eric Carle? Don’t worry. He’s not some stiff, wordy theologian. Not that I know of, anyway. At least that’s not what he is known for. He’s known for children’s books with marvelous illustrations – the Grouchy Ladybug, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a perennial favorite in our home.
“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.
One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and -pop- out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar. He started to look for some food.
On Monday he ate through one apple, but he was still hungry.
On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry.
On Wednesday he ate through three plums but he was still hungry.
On Thursday he ate through 4 strawberries but he was still hungry.
On Friday he ate through 5 oranges but he was still hungry.”
The story moves on until the caterpillar eventually builds a cocoon and stays inside for more than two weeks. “Then one day he nibbled a hole in the cocoon and pushed his way out, and….. he was a beautiful butterfly.”
Into the darkness of the world a bright light was born. The Light was led into the wilderness, where the Light ate nothing for 40 days. The Light was very, very hungry.
One day, the Light sat down to a great banquet where He ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5:27-32). By his meal he taught tolerance and compassion for all. But He was still hungry.
Another day, the Light supped at Simon’s house with pharisees and a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50). As He ate and talked he showed forgiveness and compassion. He turned social convention on its head. But He was still hungry.
Later, in a deserted place, the Light fed 5,000 hungry souls. Everyone ate of the 5 loaves and the two fish – twelve baskets were left over. His meal demonstrated the abundance of life in God. But He was still hungry. (Luke 9:10-17)
Later still, the Light ate food prepared by Martha, as Mary sat as His feet and listened to what He had to say. But He was still hungry (Luke 10:38-42)
On a quiet Thursday, the Light gave thanks, then broke bread with his friends saying, “Take. Eat.”
On Friday – the Light was taken away. The Light suffered and died and was wrapped in linens and placed in a dark tomb. The Light was quiet and the world was dark for 3 days.
And then the Light stood again within the world, shoulder to shoulder with His friends. And the Light was not a beautiful butterfly, and was not transformed, was not changed. The Light was the Light with His wounds and His scars and His flesh and His bones and His words of peace.
“Peace be with you” the Light said. “Shalom aleikhem.” Our translation of Shalom is inadequate, or perhaps our concept of peace is simply inadequate. Shalom is so much more than a greeting or an empty sentiment. It comes from a word root denoting wholeness, completeness. It means to convey a universal sense of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, a state of blessed harmony, both physical and spiritual. Shalom aleikhem is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.
Shalom aleikhem. Ever and always He is about peace. Mmmm and food. Any food around here? He’s still hungry.
They give him some broiled fish. What else is there to do really? Your dear friend, your blessed teacher, the person you call Lord and Master comes back from torture and death and walks into your living room bringing blessings and peace. And He’s hungry. Have some fish.
He eats the fish, but He’s still hungry.
He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, “…repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” You are witnesses of these things.
There’s an old traditional gospel preacher’s refrain used to invite a response from the congregation, “Can I get a witness?” says the preacher, and the people say “Amen”
The Light is still hungry. He is hungry for witnesses: witnesses to the truth, witnesses to the in-breaking of the Kingdom into this dark world. He is inviting the responses of the people who follow Him.
He has seen injustice, seen his Father’s laws twisted to separate and to hurt His people rather than unify and heal them. He has seen power run amok. He is, as one preacher says, “hungry for freedom, shalom and justice for all people – not some people, not most people, not lots of people. All people. Had he not made it clear that the hungry were to be fed? The naked clothed? The prisoner visited? The sick made well? The stranger … welcomed?” (Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek, Sermons that Work) Can I get a witness? (Amen) (Ok. I know we are Episcopalians. We don’t exhort. We don’t proclaim. We don’t sit in the front pews, and we don’t so much as whisper a prayer in public without a prayer book in our hands….It’s Easter, it’s a time of transformation – give it a try!) Can I get a witness? AMEN!
This is Jesus. The same Jesus before and after the resurrection. The Jesus who promised to be present in the bread and the wine. The Jesus who challenged the authorities, challenged the Empire. Peace loving, child-blessing, sinner-loving, table-turning, radical Jesus. He is hungry still.
Are we happy to offer broiled fish? Or is He asking for something bigger – a manifestation of divine grace – can you hear Him?
Can I get someone to tell my story with their life and with their words?
Can I get someone to live the love I bring to the world?
Can I get someone to seek and serve me in all persons, loving neighbor as self?
Can I get someone to strive for justice and peace among all people, someone respect the dignity of every human being?
Can I get a witness? (AMEN)
To borrow the words of a very traditional gospel preacher, St. Augustine, “You are the Body of Christ. In you and through you the work of the incarnation must go forward. You are to be taken. You are to be blessed, broken, and distributed, that you may be the means of grace and the vehicles of eternal love.”
Can I get a witness?