Sermon 3 Easter 2020

Sermon
Third Easter • April 26, 2020
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 • Psalm 116: 1-3, 10-17 • 1 Peter 1:17-23 • Luke 24:13-35

This is the familiar story of the encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. Two things in the story stand out for me now that we have been sequestered in our homes for almost a month during the covid-19 crisis: First, the two disciples on the road did not recognize the Christ for some considerable time. And second, it was when they sat down to dinner with him that they did finally recognize the Christ.

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It seems to me that the Christ shows up around us frequently, but we don’t recognize the presence of the Christ and his or her actions that impact us. Remember that “Christ” is not a person, but a title, and a job description.

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Think for a moment of a President of the United States—the current on or any previous one. And let’s say that you go down to Washington to meet the President. Whom do you see when you walk into the Oval Office? Is it a human being, George or Barak or Donald or whomever you are going to see? Or is it the President of the United States. Well, both, of course.

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It is a regular human being that you are going to see, but one who is invested with an office, a job to do, and a title. So it was with Jesus. He was a regular human being with particular skills and knowledge, a teacher and collector of followers. And was invested with a mission to announce the coming of the kingdom of God. He was the man Jesus, and he also embodied a mission, just like the President is both a human being and embodies the office and work of leading the country.

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This is what it means to incarnate some being, to put into the flesh of a human being some other entity. In the case of Jesus, it was to embody the godly being of Messiah, of the Christ.

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Now, I would like to suggest to you that there are many Christs in the world, each of whom is carrying out the work of salvation—not salvation in some abstract sense, but the salvation of particular people in particular circumstances. For example, if you are sick, the skill and dedication of a nurse or a doctor could be your salvation. Or if you are in danger of being mugged, a policeman could be your salvation.

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Life is a risky business, as we are reminded in this viral crisis, and to have salvation available is critical. I want to suggest to you that there are many Christs who save us from many dangers. And I want to suggest that you are one of them, and that what you do is a Godly work, the work of a Messiah, the work of a Christ.

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Like the Christ on the road to Emmaus, however, Christ is rarely recognized. We have filed Christ away in the person of Jesus, too high and lifted up to be part of our ordinary lives, and forgotten that he has called us follow him in his work. And this means doing the work of the Christ, the work of being a Christ for others.

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St Paul recognized this when he said in his letter to the Galatians, “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The spirit of Christ is something we can put on, something we have adopted. In doing so, we are still the same person, fully human, but doing Godly works.

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At our baptism, when we committed ourselves to Christ, we promised to “seek … Christ in all persons” and to “serve” him, “loving our neighbor as our selves.” This is exactly how it works—looking for Christ in others and, for ourselves, claiming nothing except to serve the Christs we find.

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But how do we recognize the Christ in others? There is a clue in the Emmaus story. The disciples recognized the Lord at dinner, when he broke the bread. Breaking the bread in a First Century Jewish meal was what the master of the house did. It was an act of service to take a loaf of bread and break it into pieces and to pass it around to everyone else.

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The Christ is whoever serves us, whoever feeds us, whoever helps us solve a problem, whoever opens us to new possibilities for our lives, whoever empowers us—in short, whoever saves us.

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So here is the mystery of the Christ: That we are called to serve, and that we are called to recognize God our Savior in those who serve us. The road to Emmaus is the road of our lives, meeting and recognizing the Christ who walks with us. Amen.

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