SERMON PREACHED BY THE REV'D DAPHNE B. NOYES AT THE CHURCH OF THE ADVENT,
MAY 8, 2011, THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

What is it to know Jesus? When, where, how do we know Jesus? The answer - or answers - go to the very heart of our faith.

Yesterday, a number of people were confirmed or received into God’s holy, catholic, and apostolic Church right here by Bishop Shaw. Some were young, some not so young. Some were from other parishes; ten were from this parish. Ten individuals, ten histories, ten futures. I couldn’t help but wonder about each one’s experience of knowing Jesus. In preparation for confirmation, these ten had studied some of the Christian basics: the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments. They had a show-and-tell with Father Warren about the material bits and pieces that are the props of the drama that shapes each liturgy. But in what way does each one of these ten, does each one of us, know Jesus?

The people closest to Jesus - those who lived to record his mighty acts and wondrous works - are consistent in telling us that Jesus was most often found by them - or that Jesus most often found them - in the most mundane, ordinary aspects of their day to day lives. Some were earning a living by fishing. One was collecting taxes. One was drawing water from a well. More than one was caring for a sick relative or friend. One was burying his father. Two were walking down a road. Yes, there were signs and symbols - water into wine, walking on water, miraculous healings and exorcisms - but these were rendered all the more powerful by the fact that Jesus was not some “man behind the curtain” as Dorothy encountered in Oz, but one of them. One of us. The son of God, wrapped in human flesh.

Moreoever, the evangelists tell us that it was not the priests or scribes or prophets of the day who looked up from their sacrifices or their scrolls or their scoldings to acknowledge him as the Christ. No. This recognition came from far less likely quarters. From the Roman centurion and his companions who guarded Jesus in his last agonizing hours and witnessed the inevitability of his death who proclaimed, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” From the bereaved women, carrying oils to anoint a body that was not there, who were commissioned by an angel to announce the resurrection to the disciples. From Thomas, who exclaimed “My Lord and my God” - but only after he had seen and touched the physical wounds of the crucifixion. And, as we have heard today, from his friends, who recognized him, who knew him, whose eyes were opened only after Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Hand to hand, eye to eye.

Now, two millennia later, how do we know Jesus? Where do we find Jesus? Is Jesus patiently waiting for us in church every Sunday? Is the risen Lord encountered only at this altar? If so, what a long way we have to go!

In our text, we acknowledge that God is revealed in the homely acts of other men and women, acts as simple and fundamental as breaking bread. In short, you don’t meet God in creeds or stained glass or Canon Law but in other people.

To those who embrace the reality of Jesus - his birth, life, death, and resurrection - new vistas open up. They come to see that in Jesus, God acted and is acting out his promises; that there is indeed a realm of light and love which extends beyond death itself.

This kingdom becomes apparent whenever love overcomes hatred and whenever those things that unite us become stronger than the things that separate us. When this happens, Jesus becomes the point of reference, the benchmark from which all other measurements are made. In Jesus, we see what God is like and what we are meant to be like. In Jesus, our potential becomes our destiny. Believe this, and a whole new world lies before you.

Amen.