Luke 24:13-35 (notes)
Sermon on Luke 24:13-35
Laurel Dykestra, priest for Salal + Cedar Watershed Ministry
April 23, 2023
St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church
Hello I am Laurel Dykstra, no pronouns or they them,
I know some of you but not everyone.
I am a long-time activist, working mostly on climate justice for the past number of years, a writer, amateur naturalist and a priest of S+C, worship outside.
I understand that you are at a time in your church life of asking questions about your identity
-who you are?
-why you gather?
-what you love about your community?
-what makes you special?
-what you might want to tell someone else about or invite them to.
So pretty often people in my not church life often ask me -why are you still Christian
-when you know how badly the church has treated women -Anglican Me too
-when you know how badly the church has treated queers -you know that in this diocese priests and congregations are still allowed to refuse to marry same sex couples?
-when “ “ “ “ “ indigenous people
People with disabilities, illness, addictions
sometimes doesn’t feel like the church doesn’t love me back -or is a clubhouse for the comfortable, I ask myself the same question
I am going to share some of answers
Because maybe it will help you with some of your own
Lets look at today’s gospel -which is one of my (admittedly many) favorite passages
A whole lot of why I keep on choosing the church
This is my heritage-
White ppl go shopping in other people’s culture
These are the stories I grew up with -not all good but I can’t leave them for those who would use them for harm
Justice/creation streams scripture-untamed God, wilderness prophets
Despite how it has cozied up to power ancestor stories, prophets, gospels
Community in resistance to empire
The gospel begins with Jesus’ family fleeing violence as political refugees
The adult Jesus as homeless, “the Human One has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58),
but stateless. “My kingdom is not of this world,”
Executed as a dissident and buried like a common criminal, Jesus “suffered outside the gate” of the metropolis,
Jesus’ resurrection did not resolve his marginalized social condition but intensified it. He appears unrecognized as a wayfaring stranger in the Emmaus Road
In the afternoon, two days after Jesus was killed, two members of his circle are walking away from Jerusalem, away from the place of confrontation with empire, toward the town of Emmaus talking about all that has happened. A stranger joins them, they talk, they discuss scripture, they eat together and in the breaking of the bread they realize that this stranger with them is Jesus.
Radical sharing, hospitality
The gospel describes their meal “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.” -the words that Luke uses at the last supper, at the feeding of the 5000 these are sacramental words
Do you remember your catechism “a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”—I think I am one of very few people my age who had to memorize catechism
But a sacrament is in some way a place where the spiritual world and the every day world connect. A place or a time that is both heaven and earth
Why in the story and in our faith practice is this the act where Jesus is revealed? Why is breaking bread important?
Perhaps more than anything else the community around Jesus was characterized by and challenging because of who was invited to the table.
Think about who you eat with, who you have never eaten with, who you would never eat with. Who would you have at your table? who would you half a sandwich with? Whose potato chip bag would you eat out of? Whose ice cream cone would you lick?
I some way we are not just what we eat but who we eat with.
Now as in Jesus’ time who we eat with is about issues of boundaries, inclusion and also purity.
Breaking bread became the sacrament not because Jesus said “do this” at the last meal but because over and over again he and his friends upset the social order
by eating with tax collectors and sinners
Jesus eats at Simon the leper’s house
He is accused of being a glutton and drunkard
He says when you have a party, invite people who can never pay you back
He sits with crowds of thousands and when somebody starts by sharing somehow there is enough
What Jesus and the community around him are doing scholars call “open table commensality” it is not charity, not hospitality or politeness but justice, radical inclusion and refusal to honor codes, rules, barriers that separate. Host from guest.
This is not about soup kitchens, food banks or holiday hampers where givers and receivers are separated by more than a counter. This is not just believing that every body should have enough to eat. Jesus and his community encountered God and one another by eating together. And that is why this is our sacrament.
I choose the church because of this affirmation that we meet the sacred in the every day
In the face of death
The pair on the Emmaus road, Cleopas and some scholars say his wife, are “slow hearted” –broken hearted.
They are grieving. The one they love deeply has died. Someone who did not deserve to die. This death does not make sense to them. Some of their hope died with him.
All of us have walked that Emmaus road. All of us have lost something or someone precious and beloved. Have experienced death that makes no sense.
Heck, If you hear anything in the news about the church in Canada, it is that the church is dying. Climate grief, extinction of species.
And the stranger on the road does not avoid, or act uncomfortable or cheerful around grief. He simply asks, “what were you talking about?”
And the story pours out of them, both of them speaking at once. This longest speech in the gospels, by someone other than Jesus, and the gospel of Luke is characterized by speeches.
And later after they had walked and talked, studied scripture and ate together in a mostly unspectacular way they realize that Jesus had been there all along.
I love Emmaus because to me it is the short, short story of Christianity. It tells us the truth about ourselves. Death and loss, violence and oppression break us, break all of us. But together we break bread, we tell the stories and when we think love had died, love is there with us, when our hearts are too slow to recognize Jesus, there is still fire burning in them. And sometimes that recognition changes our direction.
Why you come here
What you love about it
What keeps you here when it is hard