Readings for this Sunday: Acts 3.12–19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3.1–7; Luke 24.36b–48
Does anyone remember the film, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid? This passage from Luke’s gospel shouts a similar title within my head. Dead men don’t eat fish.
Nor do they eat bread. Bread and fish ought to sound familiar. They point to an event in Jesus’ ministry so striking that it is one of very few incidents that it is mentioned in all four gospels: the feeding of the five thousand, a miracle of abundance, in which Jesus broke bread and shared it.
This anticipates Christ’s banquet, which we both remember (looking back) and anticipate (looking forward) in the Eucharist – Holy Communion. Ultimately, we live in hope of the resurrection banquet, a feast at which all are welcomed and fed abundantly, with enough for all.
This is part of the new order of resurrection, which although is something described in terms of the future, is in fact something that Christ makes possible in the present: a world in which peace is possible because all have enough. We live in this world. We have the ingredients for all to have enough, but some of us over-consume and so we lose our grasp on peace.
Peace, or Shalom, is the word Christ used with his disciples as he encountered them after the resurrection. They needed it, because of the experience of crucifixion and guilt. Locked in an upper room, they were riddled with anxiety and fear. But Christ offered reconciling peace.
If asked which Christian season is most associated with peace, we would probably answer, “Christmas.” And “Peace on Earth,” is the message of the angels. But Christmas offers the hope of peace on earth; Easter, with resurrection, shows God’s way to peace.
This is the empty tomb – what was left after Jesus had passed through death and taken a lot of people through an emotional death with him. The empty tomb shows that when Jesus takes the lid off all our doubts, fears and anxieties, and rids us of them, we are left, like Pandora’s Box, with one small thing: hope – hope of peace.
Fear and anxiety plague our world. We have a choice. We can shut ourselves in the upper room with the disciples, but then close our ears to Jesus saying, “Peace.” If we do that, stuck with fear and anxiety, we effectively leave Jesus hanging on the cross on Good Friday. Or we can live as people of the resurrection, confronting risk, hurt and danger with confidence and trust in God, supported by the inner calm that comes with God’s peace that passes our understanding.
Peace begins with us and within us. Acknowledging risk and danger is not the same as surrendering to fear and anxiety. The season after Easter is the season of peace. And a season of symbolic eating: bread and fish. Dead men don’t eat fish. A risen saviour does – and then offers a gift of abundant hope and peace.
Are we willing to accept it? Shalom!
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