Musings from the Manse on Luke 24:36b-48

Everybody loves a good story. It’s how we communicate with one another. Stories help us to share life and to explore what it means to be human–to love, to laugh, to cry, to experience this life. The best teachers (and preachers!) know how to use story artfully to draw an audience in, to drive home a point, and to send folks into the world pondering and/or moved to action. Jesus was a master storyteller. And so were the authors of scripture.

In fact, in the story I’m musing about this week, we have both a fish tale and a love story all rolled into one breakfast and the impassioned words of a disciple writing to an early Christian community. Think about it. Jesus is risen from the dead. This amazing and beloved rabbi is now revealed as more than just the hope of the tiny nation of Israel but indeed as the out-of-this-world ruler of the cosmos who will not be bound by time and space but who is also as ordinary as the fisherfolk with whom he’s now dining.

What madness is this? How can this be? We’ve taken this absolutely phenomenal story and sanitized it for Sunday school consumption. We trot dutifully to the front of church to consume a bit of bread and a mouthful of juice in various states of awareness of the miracle of this meal. And that we are called children of God? Wow! What wondrous love is this? What kind of earth-shattering, limit-busting, reality-bending wonderment is this? Really.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m really NOT trying to beat up everyday faithful disciples, those of us who are trying to walk the walk and talk the talk. This is not a guilt trip. No, not at all! This is a good news story that never ends. Our Lukan fish tale this week reminds us that even the early disciples doubted, were confused, and sometimes were stuck in a quagmire of inaction and ineptitude. Human nature has not changed one iota. And the good news is that neither has God’s amazing love story and wild and crazy grace.

Our life of faith may be marked by hills or mountains. It may be peppered with storms and pitfalls. There may be periods of clear, smooth sailing, just as there will surely be times of trial and tribulation. The journey begins at birth and ends when we enter eternal life. There are no shortcuts, no fail-safe plans for traveling ease or assurances of “first class” seating; however, this glimpse of these early Christians who suffered doubt, confusion, hardship, and loss points us to the nature of God revealed in and through Jesus. And I don’t know about you, but I need to hear this message again and again: The essential nature of love is an integral part of discipleship. God and love cannot be separated.

In Jesus we see God. In Jesus we see love worked out in a radical, mind-bending way. In the revealing of God and the nature of love we get our discipleship marching orders. It’s a love story that never ends, that we are written right into and that is written (quite literally) into our very hearts.

And yes, just as Jesus told his first disciples, we ARE witnesses to these things. We may not have been sharing that meal of fish, but we share Christ’s very self and consume Christ’s amazing love whenever we gather at his table. So let us consume love and be consumed by love. In doing so, we are equipped to live life abundant and to go out and retell this love story/fish tale so that all may see and hear.

Rev Nik Wooller

18th April 2021

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