We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Lectionary, Easter 3, Year B

I.Theme –   Jesus is risen and present with us

 Mosaic at the Church of Heptapegon

“‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.’.. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.” – Luke 24:38-43

The lectionary readings are here  or individually:

Old Testament – Acts 3:12-19
Psalm – Psalm 4 Page 587, BCP
Epistle –1 John 3:1-7
Gospel – Luke 24:36b-48 

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites the disciples to touch his risen body and to understand the meaning of the scriptures.

They still don’t get it, even after the stone was rolled away, the cloths folded, the corpse vanished, the angel appeared and various testimonies given. Even then they think he’s a ghost. Their reaction is panic and fright.

And Jesus reaches out to them, exactly where they are. No scolding. No abstract theology. Jesus communicates on the only plane that will work. They might be spooked if he touched them. So he invites them to touch him. Drawing them out further, he asks for something to eat.

Nothing could better confirm Jesus’ identity and cement his bond with his friends than the sharing of fish. That is, after all, how it all began: an interruption when they were casting their nets, an invitation to a totally different kind of fishing. He who had no need of nourishment satisfies their hunger, that unspoken yearning which lurked beneath their fear, the quavering hope that he might be real.

This time, they get it. In Acts, Peter speaks to the people in a tone that echoes Jesus’ voice: no condemnation, only words of peace and forgiveness. He preaches about the power of God in Jesus and calls his listeners to respond with repentance and conversion. He has full confidence that their turning to God will wipe out their sins. Like his master, he does not burden them with heavy dogmas or abstract philosophy. He reaches out to them with the same enthusiasm that Christ once reached toward him. Peter and John have the same tough-minded attitude toward sin that Jesus had. They do not deny it, nor do they allow it to overwhelm them. They place it under God’s mercy.

Peter and John had seen human evil in its worst form. They had witnessed the cruel betrayal and violent murder of God. Yet Peter believed that through the Messiah’s suffering, God’s promise of life would come to fulfillment. And John saw Jesus as an intercessor, an offering for our sins. When we get depressed about evil in the world, or become guilty about our own sin, they inspire us to take the next step, beyond the muck and into new life.  

II. Summary

First Reading –  Acts 3:12-19

The book of the Acts of the Apostles recounts the early growth of the Christian Church. One of the major features of Acts is Luke’s use of speeches by principal figures to provide reflection upon and analysis of events. These speeches demonstrate the basic preaching pattern of the apostolic Church to different audiences as the Church moves from the Jewish to the Gentile world. 

Today’s reading is taken from the second of these discourses, Peter’s temple sermon. Set in the context of a healing (3:1-10), it shows that Jesus’ ministry continues in the apostles. The sermon begins with the basic proclamation about Jesus’ death and resurrection. This kernel is then fleshed out in a longer section identifying Jesus with various Old Testament figures. 

Psalm – Psalm 4 Page 587, BCP  

From the depths of his troubles, the psalmist expresses his trust in God as helper (savior). He knows that God will always help and answer his pleas, and this awareness brings peace. Because God is his savior, he can rest securely and warn others to trust in God alone. 

Epistle –  1 John 3:1-7

Today’s reading takes up the theme of Christians and sin, in the context of their adoption as “children of God” (v. 1). This special relationship to God was formerly extended to Israel as a people and especially to the king as Israel’s representative. In Hebrew idiom, “to be the child of” meant to exhibit the characteristics of one’s father. Christians are truly God’s children now, yet they are still in the process of growing into resemblance to God by imitating Christ in their behavior. 

Gospel –   Luke 24:36b-48 

By showing the marks of the crucifixion, the risen Christ identifies himself as the earthly Jesus. He shows himself to be “really real,” not a vision or a ghost. The account displays the Hebrew understanding of the person as particular and embodied, in contrast to the Greek sense of the person as merely the “soul.” 

As in the Emmaus story, the disciples recognize Jesus in the context of a meal and in the exposition of the scriptures. The Hebrew scriptures are divided into three parts: the law, the prophets and the writings (the first book being the Psalms).

To the earlier statement that the scriptures told of the suffering and resurrection of the Messiah (24:25-27) is added that the scriptures also point toward the mission “to all nations” (v. 47). The accomplishment of Jesus’ mission to Israel means the beginning of his followers’ mission to the Gentiles. 

III. Articles for this week in WorkingPreacher:

First ReadingActs 3:12-19

PsalmPsalm 4  

Epistle  – 1 John 3:1-7 

Gospel  – Luke 24:36b-48