April 26, 2020
Luke 24: 13-35
Today in the gospel reading from Luke, we have the story of two of the disciples of Jesus who are struggling because their world is in disarray and turned upside down.
These disciples were two of many that had been following Jesus and they were very excited; it was a wonderful ministry in which they were participating. Further, they were convinced that not only was Jesus a mighty prophet but they were also convinced that he would rise to power and redeem Israel. They figured that Jesus would rule over Israel and would free them from their oppressors of the time, the Romans.
In the midst of all this optimism, something very confounding happened: Jesus was arrested and crucified. He was buried, but on the third day, his tomb was empty and the body was missing. On top of all that, the women from their group who discovered the empty tomb came back with the message that Jesus had risen from the grave and that he was no longer dead, but alive.
Their world has been turned upside down and they didn’t know what to make of all this.
Of course, one of the surprising things about this gospel passage is the fact that the two disciples are walking and talking and voicing their confusion to Jesus himself. Jesus is walking along with them and they do not recognize him.
Jesus can see that the disciples are unable to process this upside-down world of theirs, so he tries to help them make some sense.
Jesus says to them,
"’Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”
Jesus in effect, runs through all the stories in the Bible that applied to him. He recites the stories of Moses and the prophets, stories that declared how God was active in history and how God WOULD be active in history, bringing about redemption and salvation. God would accomplish all of these things through the Messiah, the deliverer that God would send.
Of course, according to Jesus, the important element in all of this is the fact that the Messiah would suffer and die because that was the way that the glory of God would become evident to all.
But while Jesus tries to speak to their upside-down world, those 2 disciples were unable to deal with it and cope. Until….. they confronted a loaf of bread.
As they shared a meal with Jesus, as Jesus broke the loaf of bread in two and blessed it, they recognized him. They see THIS.
They see Jesus break the bread the way he had in the past and when they see THIS, they understand that this it is Jesus before them.
How many times had they fellowshipped with Jesus? How many times had they seen him break bread? Something tipped them off that this was Jesus at the table. I doubt that what they saw was part of a normal dinner practice which they recognized. After all, how many different ways can you pass a dinner roll?
It must have been something very distinctive, something that was closely connected to the character and ministry of Jesus. And with that witness to the breaking of the bread, their crisis and grief dissipated. They began to reflect on the walk to Emmaus and they noted the burning fire in their hearts. The conversations and the teachings began to hit home, all of that formed additional recognition, but it was the breaking of the bread that was the spark.
Perhaps their world wasn’t quite so topsy-turvy. Maybe they were able to re-orient, sort of get their compasses back. Maybe that upside-down world did not look so fearsome. They recognized Jesus, they saw God in action in their midst.
With that, they ran to tell their fellow disciples they had seen Jesus in the breaking of bread. All this happened to them in the breaking of the bread. A loaf of bread became a very powerful image.
This past week as I was reflecting upon the power of this loaf of bread to open their eyes to Jesus, to expose their hearts and minds to God’s movement in their midst, I encountered a powerful story.
On Monday afternoon I was driving home from my walk on the dikes and I was listening to the radio, AM 1410, The Bloomberg Business Network. Surprise, I was not listening to sports-talk radio and for once, I am glad I didn’t. Fortunately, I got to listen to an interview and the subject was a man by the name of Jose Andres. You may not recognize the name, but he is a fascinating individual with an amazing story.
"When José Andrés first came to New York City, the wide-eyed sailor in the Spanish navy docked on West 30th Street full of ambition. Decades later, the award-winning chef has an empire of 27 upscale restaurants employing 1,600 people which include The Bazaar, Jaleo and the two Michelin-starred Somni. Last year Andres opened up a new venture, a food hall in New York that is absolutely huge and incorporated some novel ways of serving a variety of foods. It was apparently a ground-breaking and imaginative experiment. That food hall, located on the very street where Jose Andres disembarked as an immigrant decades before, is now closed to regular restaurant traffic. BUT that restaurant will serve 40,000 meals this very week across New York City where he built his dreams, and which is now the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Andrés was among the first restauranteurs to close his restaurants, hoping to create a blueprint for chefs around the world on how to use their restaurants and employ workers while feeding the hungry. One of the reasons that Jose Andres has mobilized in this way is because he has tremendous experience feeding people in times of crisis. Andres founded World Central Kitchen in 2010; it has served over 15 million meals worldwide after hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. Since the pandemic, his organization has served more than 750,000 meals from Miami and Los Angeles to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Fairfax, Virginia. It works out of places like libraries, food trucks and shuttered restaurants, feeding medical staff and care-workers in 125 hospitals, students in school lunch programs, the poor, the working-poor, the homeless and even quarantined cruise ship passengers. On top of that, Andrés has amassed an A-list network around the world, relying on celebrity chef pals including Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri and Marcus Samuelsson to feed the hungry and buoy the humble restaurant kitchens across America where many started their careers.
In New York City, he set up a cafe to serve the Mount Sinai field hospital in Central Park. In Harlem, he's using Chopped TV judge Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant to feed families.
Samuelsson's Miami restaurant hasn't opened to the public yet, but instead of leaving it empty, he turned it over to World Central Kitchen. They are serving sandwiches and salads there to laid-off hospitality workers, homeless residents and Uber drivers. The World Central Kitchen has, in the past month, helped make and serve more than 2 million free meals in at least 100 American cities. These meals are free thanks to donations received by World Central Kitchen.
(story [in italics] were taken from the following website and links: CBC News.ca, found at
https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/celebrity-chefs-charity-coronavirus-1.5527444 as well as CBS News.com, found at
Towards the end of the interview on the radio, I heard Jose Andres talk about two things that have spoken to him throughout the years, especially since he founded the World Central Kitchen. Those two things are: LOVE and THE POWER OF FOOD. Motivated by his acceptance in a new country, motivated by his love for people, Chef Jose Andres has experienced the power of food. Food, he recognized, has the power to bring people together, it has the power to heal, it has the power to give hope, it has the power to create community and it has the power to inspire others to do more. LOVE and THE POWER OF FOOD. LOVE and THE POWER OF FOOD, bringing people together, healing, giving hope, building community and inspiring others to do more. I think that when Jesus broke the bread in front of the disciples, the combination of his love for them and the power of that food, united them, healed them, gave them hope, renewed their sense of community and inspired them. The 2 disciples ran to tell their comrades and then this story began to take on life in the early Christian church. The early Christians recognized the powerful love of Jesus and the power of food, so they kept a meal, a simple meal of bread and wine, because it helped them see Jesus and it united them, healed them, gave them hope, provided community and inspired them. LOVE and THE POWER OF FOOD. Have we seen the power of love and the power of food in OUR midst? Think of what we do as a congregation: Street Ministry, Glenwood Elementary lunch program, Saturday night community meal and Seniors’ Cafe.
Oh yes, we shouldn’t forget Oktoberfest, Shrove Tuesday and potluck meals. It is in those places that we see the power of love and the power of food. As we serve others, as we serve each other, we can see what God through Jesus is up to in this world, we can stay in touch with God. As we serve others, as we serve each other, we are united, because we see the healing power of food, we see how it gives comfort and hope and community and as we serve, we are inspired. LOVE and THE POWER OF FOOD.
The gospel also makes me think of the meal that we share on Sunday mornings: Holy Communion. Sadly, since our church has been closed during the pandemic, we have not been able to share that meal with each other. I miss that meal because it communicates the powerful love of God through the power of the food, the meal we serve. When we celebrate the meal of Holy Communion, we are reminded that Jesus is alive, that he has risen from the grave, that forgiveness of sins and eternal life are won by him and that he is active in our lives and in this world. Holy Communion unites, heals, provides hope and community; it also inspires. We are reminded that the power of that love and food propels us out into the world, to share the grace, love and mercy of Christ, so that others can experience the love of God seen in Jesus. Someday, we will celebrate that meal again, something to which we look forward. Regardless, no matter what our circumstances may be, no matter the circumstances of others, no matter that this world might seem to be upside down, God through Jesus still speaks.
God through Jesus speaks of the power of love and the power of food. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Reverend Roland Ziprick