36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 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.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence. 44 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.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 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, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
Prayer: Spirit of the living God, come now and thaw out our hearts with your fire of love. Come and open our eyes to see that it really is you hidden within the people we meet today. Come and strengthen our love and deepen our hope. Amen
I invite you to close your eyes for just a moment.
Raise your hand if you have a scar somewhere on your body.
Look at that – who knew scars were something so many of us had in common.
Certainly our scars don’t all fit in the same category. I have a friend who has a scar on his abdomen from donating his kidney to a woman he barely knew. I also have a friend who has a scar on her neck from the seatbelt that saved her life in the car accident that took her father’s life.
Life has a way of leaving its mark on us all. Our bodies can often tell our stories.
I have a scar on my left thumb and the continuous tingling nerve to remind me of the time I used a knife to open a package but did not follow the rule of cutting away from myself.
If I had much shorter hair (which I’ve heard is on the wish list for some of you), you would see a scar across the top of my head from when I was 4 years old and in trying to impress my babysitter, I hung upside down by my knees on the bar in my closet, only to then fall head first onto a toy fire truck. My mother said it was quite a mess.
I wonder what stories your bodies have to tell. I’m sure that among us some of them are hilarious and some of them are crushing.
I have been thinking a lot about scars this week. And a story I cannot get out of my head comes from this past fall. This past October on Reformation Sunday, some of you will remember when we had that Reformation Hymn sing down at Imminent. One of the members of the group who lead the Hymn Sing is Rolf Jacobson, Old Testament Professor at Luther Seminary. He is also a child of this congregation as his dad was one of the pastors many years ago.
And, as some of you will know and remember, Rolf doesn’t have any legs. Early on in his life, on two separate occasions, he was diagnosed with cancer, each time leading to the amputation of a leg.
Well, my son Elliot was at the Reformation Hymn sing where Rolf was leading us in song, and after it was all over and people were cleaning up, Elliot saw Rolf for the first time. And in his beautifully inquisitive and brave way, Elliot leans into my ear and says, “Daddy, how come that man doesn’t have any legs?” He had never experienced this before.
Not entirely sure how best to explain this to Elliot, I asked Rolf what the best practice was when a child is curious about someone living with a disability. And he graciously said that the best practice for him was to ask him about it.
So right there, my son asked Rolf about his legs and Rolf explained to my son about how he got cancer in both of them which meant that the doctors had to cut them off.
After Rolf said that, we could tell that something wasn’t computing for Elliot.
Finally Elliot asked, “So what did they do with the holes?”
“What holes?” Rolf asked.
“The holes in your legs,” Elliot said.
“They sewed them up,” Rolf said.
“But how?” Elliot just couldn’t comprehend how this was possible.
And then Rolf did this profoundly gracious thing.
He said to my son, “Would you like to see?”
Elliot quietly nodded and there in the middle of everything going on, Rolf opened up his pant leg to let my son touch and see his scars. So that Elliot would understand.
In that moment, there was something profoundly human, and vulnerable, and at the very same time sacred.
I’ve been thinking about that story and about the scars we carry with us in our bodies because of what happens in our gospel reading for today.
Our reading for today comes right after the road to Emmaus story. The story when on Easter evening two disciples are walking alone on a road, exhausted and defeated by the news of Jesus’ death and confused by the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection. And it is there, on the road, along the way, that the Resurrected Jesus appears to them as a stranger. They don’t recognize him. It is a story that gives us that great promise that Jesus can still be with us even when we do not recognize him.
But then it gets dark out, and being faithful Jews, these two disciples offer hospitality to this stranger among them. Stay with us, they say, for it is evening.
And then at their meal together, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, and breaks it for them, just like he did at the Feeding of the 5000. Just like he did at the last supper. And it is in that moment, of breaking bread, of table fellowship, of eating together, that their eyes are opened and they realize this is Jesus among them, God in their midst.
Immediately, Jesus vanishes from them, and these two rush back to Jerusalem to tell their friends that Jesus has appeared to them.
Once all the disciples are gathered together, swapping stories of the resurrected Jesus appearing to them, all of sudden Jesus’ is standing among them again.
And they’re terrified, because despite the ways he has appeared to them already, they still think they are seeing a dead man. Jesus, the friendly ghost.
But to show them that it really is him – alive, in front of them – he doesn’t tell them that one story about that one time with the disciples that only Jesus could have known. He doesn’t say, “Listen to the sound of my voice – it’s me!”
No. Jesus does this profoundly gracious thing – he shows them his body. And not just his body, but his hands and feet bearing the bruised scars of crucifixion.
He let these fearful and doubting disciples touch and see his scars. So that they would understand. So they would understand it was really him and would understand something about the Resurrection.
As one preacher has said, we tend to think of Resurrection as this moment of fixing everything, of making all things right, making all things new, this state of perfection.
And yet… the Resurrected Jesus bears scars.
Think about what that means.
It means that what happened to Jesus in his earthly life still matters in his resurrected life. It means that the whole human life, scars and all, are welcomed into the kingdom of heaven and life of God. It means that the human body and what happens to the human body is not forgotten by God but matters deeply to God. It means that the divine life participates in the human life – fully. Scars and all.
Two theologians, whose theological work has centered on the topic of disability, think Jesus’ Resurrection wounds are significant to showing God’s commitment to all of creation.
Roy McCloughry writes that Jesus “has taken up the marks of disability into himself” and that “his body, in showing how he suffered, offers solidarity with all who remain disabled.” Similarly, Nancy Eieslund says, “Resurrection is not about the negation or (the erasing) of our disabled bodies in hopes of perfect images, untouched by physical disability; rather Christ’s resurrection offers hope that our nonconventional, and sometimes difficult, bodies participate fully in the (image of God) …”
With scars on his hands, we are assured that whatever the Resurrection is, it is not a disembodied spirit, floating in the heavenly ether. But rather Resurrection has something to do with this world. Resurrection has a body. Resurrection has scars. Resurrection includes flesh, and frailty, and food. Resurrection includes the whole human life. Even the broken parts. Resurrection will be found in the ordinary.
And in case that wasn’t clear enough, Jesus does perhaps the next most human move of all.
He says, “You got any snacks? I’m kind of hungry.”
And then they share yet another meal together, this time of broiled fish.
Which wouldn’t be my choice, but Jesus didn’t ask me.
We learn that resurrection is not escape from this world; resurrection is solidarity with this world.
And then Jesus does this wild thing. He takes those disciples whose faith was a mixture of joy and doubt and wonder, and he says to them, “You are the ones to bear witness to this now. I am sending you and your scarred bodies to go and be the presence of my scarred body in the world.”
Father Greg Boyles tells the story of a gang member named Sergio who at a very young age, lived an abused life at the hands of his mother. Sergio says that his mother would beat him every day “with a lot of things you could imagine and a lot of things you couldn’t.” Everyday his back was bloodied and scarred, so much so that he had to wear three t-shirts to school just to hide the bleeding wounds.
As Sergio grew into an adult, he said that he still wore three t-shirts a day, because he was ashamed of his wounds. He didn’t want anyone to see them. “But now,” he says, “I welcome my wounds, I run my fingers over my scars. My wounds are my friends. After all…how can I help others to heal if I don’t welcome my own wounds.”
How can I help others to heal if I don’t welcome my own wounds? That’s the solidarity of God lived in a human life.
Jesus said to his friends, “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is me.” Showing them that his resurrected and wounded body is in solidarity with their bodies. That all of who they are is welcomed into the divine life that will be touched and seen and experienced in this world.
As I have been reflecting on this story this week, something dawned on me for the first time. The bread we use for holy communion, regardless of whether it is real bread or that wafer thingy…it too is scarred. Have you seen it? There is a mark, a cross, an X on the top of the bread, the wafer. And I’ve always thought it was just a cross – you know to symbolize Jesus. And let’s be honest, that’s probably why it is put there. But this week, I’m seeing that cross tipped on its side, as an X. As a mark, as a scar on the body of the Resurrected One who is among us. Feeding us and sending us as his body to live the resurrected life, of God’s solidarity with the world.
You know, I find myself in the same spot as the disciples this Easter season, in both great joy and in utter disbelief at the resurrection.
And yet my heart burns within me knowing that the Risen Christ is the Crucified Jesus. Knowing that in the mystery of living as Resurrection people, my past isn’t erased but rather is welcomed and held fast by God.
Perhaps yours scars are known and visible to the world already or perhaps they are known only to God. But know that God reaches out to you, showing you God’s own scarred hands and feet, saying with love, “Me too. Me too.” Amen
 Jonathan Evens, “Beautiful Scars, found at https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/smitf/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/24153304/april-19-je.pdf. Jonathan misnames Nancy Eiesland as Nancy Eisler.
 Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, pg. 54.