The Gospel reading for this Sunday is Luke 24.35-48The disciples began to relate their experiences on the [Emmaus] road and how Jesus was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. While they were telling these things, He himself stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be to you." But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of a broiled fish; and he took it and ate it before them.
This reading begins and ends with food! This underlines that the resurrection is of the body. Jesus is not simply a spirit. Resurrection life involves a transformation of things material as well as things spiritual. This is why our faith has a practical effect on the world around us. Christian Aid has the slogan: We believe in life before death. The Good News of Easter isn't just something for the next life - it changes things here and now, in every part of our existence.
The 'spiritual' is not something separate from our 'material' live. Rather, we live spiritually when the material world becomes a gateway to a deeper communion with God and neighbour. That, of course, is what happens every time water is used at Baptism or bread and wine at Holy Communion. In these sacraments, physical things become a means of spiritual union with God and with his Church. They are part of a world that is sacramental; in which the way we treat one another can reveal God's love, hospitality and justice.
This week, please pray for The Waterfall Project, one of the Church Urban Fund's partners in Winchester. It is aiming to address the local shortage of women-only homes for drug rehab. (This is also a national problem). The Waterfall will be adopting a similar approach to that of successful models of Christian faith-based rehab programmes which have an 80% rate of clients remaining drug free after five years of completion.
The Church Urban Fund's support is enabling the project to employ an Outreach Co-ordinator. Pray for this work as it develops, and for the lives it will touch and help to transform.
Pray also for the Contextual Theology Centre's partner churches, and the process they are involved in to hold the candidates for Mayor of London to account. Along with other churches, mosques, synagogues and civic groups in London Citizens, they have developed a 'People's Agenda' around the Living Wage, placements for unemployed young people, affordable housing and street safety. Pray for the 2500 people at the London Citizens Mayoral Accountability Asssembly on 25 April - and for those standing for Mayor as they respond to these issues.