Gospel of Luke 24:13-49
Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with
you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were
seeing a ghost.  38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and
why do doubts arise in your hearts?  39 Look at my hands and my
feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not
have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  40 And when he had
said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  41 While in their joy
they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have
you anything here to eat?”  42 They gave him a piece of broiled
fish,  43 and he took it and ate in their presence. 44 Then he said to
them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with
you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the
prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”  45 Then he opened their
minds to understand the scriptures,  46 and he said to them, “Thus it
is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on
the third day,  47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be
proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from
Jerusalem.  48 You are witnesses of these things.  49 And see, I am
sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city
until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

An ancient Christian tradition has claimed a Sunday in Eastertide as Holy Humor
Sunday. Its beginnings are associated with a theological perspective that Jesus’
Resurrection is God’s colossal joke aimed at humanity. When we think we’ve
discovered the complexities of nature’s laws and God’s ways, resurrection proves
there are nuances yet to be discovered and minutiae beyond our limited knowledge.
Since today is Holy Humor Sunday at St. Paul’s, I’ll kick off the sermon with a
little joke.
After worship one Sunday, a young boy told the pastor, “When I grow up,
I’m going to give you some of my money.” “Thank you,” the pastor replied.
“But why?” The boy responded, “Because my daddy says you are one of the
poorest preachers we’ve ever had.”

Now, please don’t hand me money when you leave this morning.
Our Gospel reading is taken from Luke’s Gospel.
As you are aware, each writer shares a personal perspective
of Jesus: his life, death, and resurrection.
We now move from the Gospel of John’s emphasis on Jesus as ‘the Word made
flesh and living among us’, which stresses Jesus’ divinity and ultimate control over
his rivals, his betrayal, his rejection, and even his agonizing death on a cross.
Today we enter the Gospel of Luke with the writer’s emphasis on Jesus as ‘Son of
the Most High’ (Luke 1:32), a Savior, God’s Messiah (Luke 2:11). Luke stresses
that Jesus is also one of us, so that he can feel and identify with what it means to be
truly human.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shares in our humanity more intensely than in any other
writer’s interpretation. Jesus is flesh, bones and blood. He literally touches people
who need to be touched. He feeds hungry stomachs and honors our human bodies,
including our physical needs and our physical pain.
Theologian Richard Rohr writes: Your body is not an isolated, separate entity. We
are our truest selves only in community—with our ancestors (carrying their stories
and DNA), our natural environment, and our neighbors.
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, From the Center for Action and Contemplation
Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor writes:
“My body is what connects me to all (of these) other people. Wearing my skin is
not a solitary practice but one that brings me into communion with all (these)
other embodied souls. It is what we most have in common with one another.”
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, From the Center for Action and Contemplation
The Risen Jesus appeared before his disciples in his flesh and bones, resurrected
body. It still bore the scars of Jesus’ humanity.

One of the curious things about our reading for this morning, concerns the question
asked by Jesus to his disciples: “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise
in your hearts?
The Greek text is more expansive, using the word πτοηθέντες (toy-theyn-tes) which
means perturbed or disturbed or agitated.
When I looked up the word perturbed, Merriam-Webster defines it as: Confusion,
anxiety, a disturbance of equilibrium.
The Risen Jesus’ sudden appearance pushed the disciples into a state of agitation
and imbalance. They were confused by all that was happening. Jesus’ disciples
knew he was crucified. They were dealing with the pain of loss. Then then were
told that Jesus was raised from the tomb. Then Jesus appeared. What were they to
think? How could they not be agitated and caught off balance? Nothing was
making sense. Nothing was standing still long enough for those men and women
to get a grasp on the new reality before their eyes.
Isn’t that what Jesus does to us? Even to those of us who try daily to follow Jesus,
doesn’t he naturally create disturbance and imbalance in our lives, a tension
between what we want to do – and what we know we need to do as followers of
Jesus?
I think this is part of the growing pains of discipleship.
One morning, several years back, when I was serving a parish in Philadelphia,
I stopped at the local Post Office to get the mail. I parked my SUV along the busy
street of Rising Sun Avenue in front of the Post Office.
As I got out of my vehicle, I saw an elderly woman bent over her walker trying to
cross that busy street. It was a drizzling, nasty morning in Philly. None of the cars
would stop to let the elderly women cross, possibly for fear that the car coming
from the other direction wouldn’t stop.
So I ran across the street, dodging cars, to help the woman accomplish her goal.

Cars stopped for us, allowing us to cross, even at our sluggish pace.
After crossing, I introduced myself to the woman. She was delight to have a
companion. I do not recall the woman’s name.
I accompanied her to the Post Office. Then I offered to drive her home.
But she had other tasks to do before returning home.
She told me that she needed to go to the bank, down the street about ¾ of a block.
I walked with her because it was drizzling heavily and she didn’t have an umbrella.
Also, I noticed that the woman was very shaky using her walker. Again, she was
delighted for my companionship.
After spending at least 45 minutes with the woman at the Post Office and Bank,
again, I offered to drive the woman home. But she needed to go to the grocery
store.
I thought to myself, “How in the world is this woman going to carry groceries
home in the drizzling rain while using a walker? And, at her pace, she better not
get any dairy.”
I couldn’t let her go to the store alone, so I drove her to the store. It was a miracle
that I got her up into and down from my 1997 Ford Explorer.
Moving like Tim Conway’s old-man character, we inched our way down each and
every aisle of our huge, neighborhood Pathmark.
I finally delivered the elderly woman safely home with her groceries. She was
grateful. I was tired.
She offered me cookies. I sat at her kitchen table and ate one as she chatted away.
After 3 ½ hours of being with that dear lady, I left her home to go to work
at the church office.

She gave me a lot to think about.
Two weeks later, I stopped by to see the woman. I couldn’t find her. I stopped at
her home on several occasions. She was not to be found.
I don’t know what happened to her, but I do know she’s important enough
for me to tell you the story of her life intersecting with mine.

Like the disciples, I admit, sometimes I get perturbed. My schedule becomes
imbalanced. Agitation attacks because I have my plans, my time frame, and my
way of doing things. Even after all these years, I experience the tension between
serving me and serving Jesus Christ.
But thanks be to God, Jesus’ patient love surrounds me and you.
Jesus’ patient love, forgiveness and compassion accompany all those who welcome
Jesus and strive to follow wherever he leads the way.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!