- Pastor A.J. Houseman
"Flesh, Blood, Scars, and Hunger" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
So growing up I played soccer my entire life all the way through my sophomore year in college where I maxed out on concussions and couldn’t play competitively anymore. Believe it or not, none of those came from soccer. But I was an aggressive player and I played defense. In high school, one of my jobs was if there was a player on the other team that was particularly good, my job was to guard her so closely and so fiercely that she never touched the ball. Essentially shutting the other team down. And there was one particular game where I was doing just this, and this girl was getting so frustrated and so angry at me because she couldn’t play. There was this moment where the ball went out of bounds and while the refs were looking away, she backhands me in the face hard.
And at that moment my eyes started watering and my nose started gushing blood. There’s a rule in high school sports in Iowa that you can’t have any blood on your jersey or else you can’t play. So my coaches come rushing out onto the field and pick me up and are cupping their hands under my face so that no blood drips onto my uniform.
Pain. This is the first, well actually the only time, that I have been deliberately been punched in the face. And it’s not a pleasant experience. It's this blood and pain that reminds you of the physicality of what it means to be human. The moments where we feel the most human. Maybe its after you’ve had a big surgery, you are laying in the hospital and you can feel the scars. This kind of pain… the reminder of what our mortal bodies of flesh and blood really, really are.
How crazy is it that God becomes flesh? That God chooses to come into the world in this really real vulnerable painful way? Because being human comes with a lot fo times that are just painful. Not only physically but emotionally. Like as you get older how every day it hurts just a little more than it did the day before to get out of bed, doesn’t it?
In our resurrection story for this morning, we meet Jesus in the Gospel of Luke appearing to his disciples. And it's all about his flesh and blood. His wounds. He invites them to see the very real, very painful wounds that mark his body. His human body. Flesh. Bone. Blood.
We linger in this time after Easter with Jesus awhile. And just like we heard last week from the Gospel of John as Jesus appeared to the disciples locked inside a room, and then again to Thomas, he is real. He is present. He bears the human marks of torture and death.
We linger in this time to bask in the real Jesus post death, walking, talking, and eating. In his flesh and blood, risen human body.
My preaching professor at seminary, Dr. Karyn Wiseman, says that God is not a tourist in the world. A tourist comes, checks things out, tries the food, takes some pictures, learns a few words in the native language, grabs a souvenir and leaves. God doesn’t just come to us to visit.
God comes to pitch a tent. God comes to live among us for the long haul. To have our fears become God’s fears, our betrayal become God’s betrayal. Our pain to become God’s pain. God comes to accompany us, to feel with us, to hold our hand through the muck. To help grow the food, and prepare the food. Not just sit down at a restaurant to eat it.
God comes to place God’s tent among us in Jesus. On Christmas Eve, we talked about this audacity of God to do this. To come to earth in the most vulnerable way possible, as a baby. That God chose to put on this human flesh and become vulnerable too.
And this flesh and bone God in Jesus suffers all the vulnerabilities that humans do. Even a painful death.
And so we dwell in this time with Jesus after his resurrection from this death to focus on his human body. And the point of our dwelling, the point of the disciples dwelling in this time, is to see, to touch, to experience the flesh and blood of the Risen Christ.
It’s not a metaphor. Its not allegorical tale to explain something. It's the flesh and blood of God appearing before their eyes: hungry, and alive.
It's an incredible journey for our God as God comes to pitch a tent along side us. God came into this world to share grace through Jesus Christ. Through his death AND resurrection. That God says, you can’t keep me dead. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I create. I give life to everything. And I, am alive in this scarred, wounded, hungry, and torn body. I am here.
SO as we continue to dwell in our Easter season, remember the risen Christ. Remember his wounds, remember how God decided not to stay dead. To continue to teach them, to give them life, and love. To give them a purpose as witnesses to this miracle.
Because God has come. Flesh, bones, and blood. To pitch a tent with us. To dwell with us through thick and thin. To share in our deep sorrows and in our exponential joys. That is the kind of loving God we have. The one that always comes to us. Who never abandons us. Who loved us so much that God was willing to become an equal with us and embrace the most human of vulnerabilities, death... To share the grace and love of this God with all of us.