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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

Third Sunday of Easter Sermon

Fr. Daniel S.J. Scheid, SCP

Third Sunday of Easter B – April 14, 2024

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, San Francisco

“To Embrace Bodily Resurrection”

 

† Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

 

Walt Kelly, in his comic strip Pogo, coined this phrase in 1970 for Earth Day. It was a lampoon of a War of 1812 declaration of victory, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

 

While Kelly is credited with the satiric turn, certainly the notion that we are our own enemy long predates him. That idea goes all the way back to the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

 

The epistle-writer John picks up this theme, claiming that our sin keeps us separated from God. And Peter levels the same charge against his audience.

 

And while Peter was addressing the assembled Israelites, and John his Christian community that was splitting from the children of Israel for good, we must be careful not to point an anti-Semitic finger at these first century folks.

 

In God’s timelessness, we reject Jesus and hand him over to Pilate. In the passion plays we heard during Holy Week, the lines “Crucify him!” rightly belong to us.

 

Inasmuch as we have attained the age of reason and are in control of our actions, when we sin against God and neighbor, we bear equal responsibility for Christ’s crucifixion as have all throughout the ages – whether acting in ignorance, as Peter helpfully concedes, or malice.

 

The devil doesn’t make us do anything.

 

The “Twinkie Defense” is null and void.

 

We have met the enemy and they is us.

 

And yet … and yet – this is in fulfillment of God’s plan for our redemption; we who are the pinnacle of God’s creation; created in the image and likeness of God; declared to be very good; and entrusted with the free will that lets us free-fall by turning our backs on and hiding in fear from the one who seeks us out, walking in the evening breeze of the garden of paradise, asking “Where are you?”



In the evening of the day of his resurrection – the eighth day of God’s creation – Jesus found his terrified and hiding disciples, bid them peace, invited the intimacy of touch, ate with them, and opened their minds to understand that all in the scriptures is being fulfilled.

 

The key word I lift up here is resurrection – the bodily kind that bears the marks of suffering and that retains an alimentary canal capable of consuming a piece of fish.

 

Real. Bodily. Resurrection.

 

Modern and post-modern critics, preachers and priests among them, have tried to explain away the bodily resurrection of Jesus as myth or metaphor, as vision or hallucination, as at the same time spiritually true but physically false.

 

Bodily resurrection, you see, doesn’t sync with our sophisticated scientific minds. It must be of another sort.

 

I confess that I used to wonder about the veracity of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. This miracle, along with his virgin birth – I’ll toss that in for good measure; in for a penny, in for a pound – is a scientific impossibility. I’m too smart to believe all that.

 

I don’t wonder about it anymore. I’ve come to find just enough faith to embrace Jesus’ resurrection as a real, physical, singular, and unique historical, God-given, God-driven event. Can I explain it scientifically? No. And I needn’t try.

 

But I can preach from the scriptures and from my heart.

 

The bodily resurrection of Jesus is another of God’s great gifts to humanity and to all of creation.

 

It gives us hope that, in the midst of and despite of how far we’ve fallen, it was, is, and forever will be God’s plan to bring us back from the brink.

 

It gives us the Church, and invites us to share in the intimacy of Word and Sacrament.

 

It proclaims peace and chases away fear.

 

It destroys everlasting death and gives eternal life.

 

The bodily resurrection of Jesus brings me great comfort and blessed assurance.

 

In this instance, I am no longer my own enemy.



The Episcopal priest and superlative preacher Fleming Rutledge is on X – formerly known as Twitter. I follow her there and she’s proof that there’s some good still on that social media platform.

 

Last week she posted this:

 

“It’s Eastertide. Does your community grasp that without the Resurrection as the unique cosmic action of God from beyond creation or imagination, our faith would be a pathetic self-deception? If Jesus had not been raised from the dead we would never have heard of him. Preach.”

 

I hope I have, and I invite you to share with me in embracing this good news.

 

 Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

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