Jesus is not a ghost but he is hungry.
In the name of the of the one who was and is and is to come.
I can imagine the companions of Jesus
staring off into the distance
eyes red and sore
they didn’t sleep last night
and those who did had dreams flooded with memories
of the fire of the torches
and the anxiety of hearing the boots of soldiers marching
to take their friend away.
but came back together
those lonely days
to linger together
holding spaces of silence disturbed by outbursts of anger
was there something we could have done?
I miss him.
Guilt, shame, frustration
how helpless we are in the face of unnatural death
how little more we can do, but sit around a table.
I can remember that first night this winter, after the news that my dear cousin
Jackie died by suicide.
After the immediate hours of horror and terror
my family sat around the table
unable to eat
even pouring a glass of water felt like pushing against concrete.
Jackie didn’t leave a note-
Jesus’ last words before his death in the Gospel of Luke were Father into your hands I commend my spirit, in others why have you forsaken me, or it is finished.
But these are not the last words of Jesus of Nazareth
and they are not the last words for any who die.
As our Gospel tells us today, Jesus is alive.
He came to the disciples, terrified and grief stricken in that room
and spoke words of peace.
Peace be with you.
This is Resurrection language,
language of hope
that love is the last word.
that death is not the endThat lives stolen by shame will meet the Author of Life from whose mouth
flows words of healing and the bidding of peace.
Why are you frightened? Jesus says to those locked in that room
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 blood as you see I have.
I am not a ghost, Jesus says.
God, in Jesus, defies my expectations.
Not only does God break all the purity codes and platonic fantasies by
and dying a socially stigmatized and shame filled public death
He comes from the most taboo of places
He crosses the great divide
and comes back to speak words of peace and share a meal with his hurting
This pushes back against all my modern sensibilities.
The resurrection is scandalous.
He passes through walls
but is not ethereal
He is alive
when all human knowledge says he should be rotting six feet under
He is not radiant burning white light and a booming voice
but is very much his fleshy self.
How we long to separate God from matter
to scold God for this scandalous risen body
How difficult it is to believe
that there is indeed life after death.
Yet how I long to believe that Jackie’s pain is over, and I will see her again.
In the midst of my own grief
I thank God that Jesus is not a ghost.
I don’t want a religion obsessed with the spiritual
that dualistically divides and disregards matter
where God is a feel-good ghost.
I want a religion that takes seriously life and death
a God who desires to wed heaven and earth
a God who knows pain
who experienced loneliness
who knows suicide, and homelessness and drug addiction and violence.
In Jesus we meet a God who knows what it is like to have a friend die and not
make it in time to intervene
a God who weeps and laughs
a God who chose to plummet to the depths of isolation and abandonment
a God who has been to hell
to the places where the dead recoil from the light
a God who descended that there in the shadows of Sheol those in despair might find
One with them.
a God who is not only ethereal and beyond
but a God who is hungry
-is there anything to eat?
Who wants to be near us
-touch my hands and feet
In Jesus we meet a God who goes to the chambers of hell and shatters every
chain, every torturous memory,
recognizes every scar and liberates us for new life
who speaks peace to those who abandoned him, like the disciples.
We are given a Give a God who walks through walls
trumps over borders
shows Himself to women
breaks bread with those who left him
and hands on a ministry of reconciliation
around the table.
Thank God Jesus was not a ghost.
Jesus is not abstract.
He is not an idea, he is real.
He is Alive.
Rowan Williams says that “The resurrection is not a resuscitation; it is the
gift of a new kind of life, the life that exists on the far side of death and hell,
of destruction and disintegration.”
Resurrection means new life in relationship with God.
And what does the Resurrected Jesus do?
He makes community, through food.
What was the last communal act that Jesus did before he was arrested?
He broke bread, this is my body that is broken for you, this is my blood of the
covenant that is shed for you.
How was the Resurrected One revealed to the disciples after he met them on
the road to Emmaus?
Through his blessing and breaking of bread.
And later, what does He do after coming through walls to bid the disciples
He asks for a meal.
One of the most powerful experiences I had of community during the painful
week of gathering as a family to bury Jackie, was that of being fed.
We never had to cook for ourselves.
Neighbors, Church friends, pastors, strangers, people just showed up with
People expressed beautifully and powerfully the love of God in community
through the sharing of meals.
And when I returned to school my friend Phillippe had made for me a
chocolate pie, mac and cheese, fried chicken, green beans and corn bread.
One of the kindest, most intimate and simplest acts of embodied love is
sharing a meal together.
Grief and loss can be a horribly isolating experience.
Hospitality and generosity can be vehicles for God’s grace and healing.
I now hope I can grow in attentiveness to making space around my table for
others, especially those that have a particular need for the Resurrected Savior.
Table fellowship contests the individualism and isolation of our culture.
What might we do to share in the hospitality of Jesus? Let us imagine
Perhaps when someone is walking in the shadow of death, we could make
them a meal.
When a new interim rector comes- let us invite them to our homes for supper.
When we go grocery shopping, let us donate our favorite things to the local
or when a family has a new child, come over just to do their dishes and stock
When we notice a new parishioner, take them to coffee.
Perhaps we might consider fasting for a day once a week, saving the money
and then donating it to purchase a goat for a family in El Salvador.
Teach a family recipe to a friend from another culture and have them teach
you how to make something from their tradition.
Got a free lunch time? Come have lunch at the community soup kitchen and
stay after to help clean up.
Got family near by? Try to eat together as much as possible. And if you know
someone who lives alone invite them to join you.
Perhaps meditating on Jesus’ words “have you anything here to eat?” might
inspire us to learn more about issues of hunger in New Haven and other
countries and what cool people are doing about it.
Let us love each other, and let us follow the example of the Resurrected Jesus
and feed each other.
Thank God Jesus was not a ghost. Jesus teaches us that love is not simply
abstract, but embodied.
The embodied Lord gives us hope that love has the last word, not sin and
death, and that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
Love lives beyond the grave and beyond our grief.
The Resurrected God also gives us new norms for our community life.
Though we might prefer a sanitized God of ideas who is not connected to the
world, we meet a God who is hungry and cares about feeding people
physically and spiritually.
Jesus continues to feed us with His Resurrected body each time we are drawn
to the Altar in the great Eucharistic feast.
We come to this table to taste transformation, empowerment and
Here, we take in the medicine of life.
We take in matter that is full of Jesus’ life. And we commune with one
another, knowing that it is only in community that we become the body of
We are the guests of God at this precious and holy supper.
We are drawn into the life of the Resurrected Savior for whom sharing and
gift are the norms of His community.
And we set the table for others because God has first set a table for us.