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Last Sundays Sermon

Luke 24:36b-48

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and their companions and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 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 bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

The Sermon

Jesus meets with the disciples after his resurrection and they are startled and terrified and they think they are seeing a ghost. He shows them his hands and feet. They see the marks and then to further prove to them that he is flesh and blood he says, “Do you have anything to eat?” Then Jesus tells them to look to the words of the prophets and see that their prophesy has been fulfilled through him.

Last week St. Andrew's was responsible for visiting those who were hospitalized. Right after the service I went over there to visit. As I had completed the paper work and was preparing to visit the first room I asked those at the nurses station which hall I needed to go down to find it. The nurse kindly showed me the direction signs posted on the wall. .

Right after our conversation the doctor on call who had been listening in said, “The sign is right there. All you have to do is read it. Aren't you people supposed to be good at reading signs?”

I smiled and replied, “Yes, but a lot of the kinds of signs we get can be a little more difficult to interpret.”

I have spent some time thinking about that little interchange between myself and that doctor who happens to be Jewish. Later, I thought of all kinds of clever responses I could have given.

I have also reflected on the signs that God gives us every day. It is important to read them carefully. The following story tells about a lady who had difficulty reading signs.

Old Mrs. Watkins awoke one spring morning to find that the river had flooded the entire first floor of her house. Looking out of her window, she saw that the water was still rising. Two men passing by in a rowboat shouted up an invitation to row to safety with them. "No, thank you," Mrs. Watkins replied. "The Lord will provide."     
The men shrugged and rowed on. By evening, the water level forced Mrs. Watkins to climb on top of the roof for safety. She was spotted by a man in a motorboat, who offered to pick her up. "Don't trouble yourself," she told him. "The Lord will provide."
Pretty soon, Mrs. Watkins had to seek refuge atop the chimney. When a Red Cross cutter came by on patrol, she waved it on, shouting, "The Lord will provide." So the boat left, the water rose, and the old woman drowned.
Dripping wet and thoroughly annoyed, she came through the pearly gates and demanded to speak to God. "What happened?" she cried.
"For cryin' out loud, lady," God said, "I sent three boats."

I firmly believe that God gives us signs in a lot of different ways. We need to be sensitive to those signs. The apostles in this gospel reading were still looking for signs that Jesus was the real deal. They thought they were seeing his ghost and he tells them to touch him, to eat with him. He had to remind them of the events that had fulfilled the prophesy of Moses and the prophets.

God speaks to us and guides us in many ways. I think it is no accident that Sherry and I are living here in Chariton. Everything just fell in place and we ended up at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. It was not by accident that I had that brief discussion with Dr. Cohen. I have been thinking about our short conversation all week. I would guess he has thought about it some too. 

God guides us. God shapes us. We just have to read the signs.


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