Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sermon from April 22, 2012; Luke 24:36-49

April 22, 2012 Scripture: Luke 24:36-49 Sermon Title: “The Body of Christ” Rev. George N. Miller According to the book of Genesis, chapter 1, after the breath of God moved across the face of the waters, after sun and moon, fish and flower, we were made in God’s image. Being created in God’s image means that we are more then spiritual beings; it means we are more then intellectuals; it also means that we are sensual beings. We can say this because life is sensuous, filled with at least five senses to enjoy God’s Good Creation: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. Think of Sebring in the spring. The sight of wild bluebells as they grow, the smell of oranges in the groves; songs of the birds, feel of the sun upon your skin, and the taste of BBQ and sweet tea. Our body is designed to be sensuous, but it can not be separated from our mind, nor can it be separated from the spirit. Body, mind, and soul are all interconnected in a dance in which neither one is more important then the other. When one part suffers so do the others. Send a hungry child to school and see how they struggle to learn, and how it affects their mood. Two people in the hospital: one is visited by friends and family, where they are kissed, talked to about shared memories, has someone hold their hand. The other has no one come by to talk with, to be cared by. Which one will most likely keep a stronger spirit, maintain a sharper mind, and show signs of healing? We are sensuous beings. Our body, mind and spirit are entwined, each a part of living a fully realized life. Luke understood this. Read his gospel and you’ll see how Luke includes body, mind and soul in his account of the Good News. As an author, Luke’s style of writing is like a southern woman who’s been cooking all day, has set the table with three kinds of meat, 5 kinds of vegetables, has country music on the radio and is saying “Sit, stay and eat.” Sensuality seeps into Luke’s story. Jesus is not just born, he’s conceived in the womb, wrapped in bands of cloth, and placed in a manger. As a teenager, Jesus grows strong not just in body but in wisdom. As an adult he experiences temptation, he eats, he drinks, he weeps. He uses stories to reach out to minds. Jesus uses his body to reach out to other bodies, to open ears, to open eyes. He nourishes souls by forgiving sins and speaking words of peace So it is no surprise that just as sensually and fully as Jesus lived, that is how the world tried to destroy him. They abused his body, they played mind games, and they tried to break his spirit through humiliation. They assumed death would stop him, but they were wrong. Jesus’ resurrection is just as sensual as his life was. In today’s reading Jesus says, “Look. Touch. See.” Jesus shows the disciples his hands and feet, he asks for something to eat, takes and enjoys a piece of fish. Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. All the senses are involved. But Jesus goes deeper. He opens their minds, he helps them understand; repentance and forgiveness are to be proclaimed. Body, mind and soul; all present in Luke’s account of the Resurrection, which should not be a surprise since the resurrected Christ can’t be separated from the baby that was wrapped in swaddling clothes; that the resurrected Christ can not be separated from the man who told stories, forgave sins and healed bodies. The sensuous ministry of Jesus could not be stopped, for Christ continues to live on, in you, in me, in the church. More then the materials the church is built from, more then the seats we sit upon, the church is indeed the Body of Christ; a living entity. Because the church is living, it is also sensuous. Have you ever thought of the church that way before, as sensually alive? The church is sensuous in sight. The video screens, the stained glass, the paraments. The church is sensuous in touch. The bulletins between our hands, the breaking of bread, the making of prayer shawls. The church is sensuous in smell. The oil used to anoint those prayer shawls, coffee brewing throughout the week, soups and chilis made for the Willing Workers. The church is sensuous in taste. Spaghetti suppers, potlucks, Fellowship, and Communion. The church is sensuous in sound. The tinkling of the keyboard, the chiming of the bells, the choir in song. The Word read, the Word preached, the Word heard. The church, as the Body of Christ, is a living entity and it is more then just sensual. There is the mind: Bible Studies, discussion groups, committee meetings. There is the spirit: the sacraments shared, the forgiveness of sins, the peace of knowing one is not alone in this world. The church is a living, sensuous entity. And a reality of being sensuous is the reality of life. And life, praise God, is about growth and change. Flowers grow, trees grow, children grow. How exciting to see and hear the ways we are experiencing growth as well. At 22 years young we have grown from being in a Bingo Hall to a single building to two buildings. And now we are embarking on a task of creating a Vacation Bible School, of filling our church with the sounds of voices and feet and hands, not to mention the minds and spirits of children. Add to that the fact that right now we are in the beginning stages of exploring the possibilities of expanding our kitchen, of perhaps creating new rooms, of discerning what kind of “face lift” the Holy Spirit is calling us to give to this particular Body of Christ. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine the possibilities of what is possible? Of what can be done? Of what God wants us to do? The prospect of a summer program for children? The notion of a new kitchen and perhaps even new rooms? Talks about your senses. How both of these events would involve body, mind, and soul. How both of these events will involve all five senses. What will they look like? What will they smell like? What will they feel like? What will they sound like? What they taste like? Right now, only God knows, but won’t be it be great to find out? In conclusion, Jesus lived a sensual existence, both in his life, in the resurrection and in the church. All five senses, all working together, all reaching out, transforming and healing the world. And we, as members of Emmanuel United Church of Christ, have the honor and the opportunity to engage in this time for growth together. As long as we continue to be the sensual Body of Christ; as long as we continue to be of body, mind and spirit, Christ will continue to work through us, the Spirit will continue to move, and God will continue to transform and create new beginnings just as God did during Creation, just as God did in the Resurrection. For that we, as members of the Glorious Body of Jesus Christ, can say “Hallelujah” and we can say “Amen.”

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