Sunday, April 30, 2017

The road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35
24:13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,

24:14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.

24:15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,

24:16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

24:17 And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad.

24:18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?"

24:19 He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

24:20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.

24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.

24:22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning,

24:23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.

24:24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."

24:25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!

24:26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?"

24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

24:28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.

24:29 But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them.

24:30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

24:31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

24:32 They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"

24:33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

24:34 They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!"

24:35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This is my favorite passage from the Gospels. I love the story and what it tells us. I got to preach about it today at St. Andrew's in Northford.

I preached without notes so I can't recreate the sermon, but I can write about Emmaus.

Nobody knows where first century Emmaus was. Or if the '7 miles' is an accurate measurement. But it was a good hike from Jerusalem at any rate.

And we can't be sure why Cleopas and his companion (whoever that was) are going to Emmaus. Was it their home? Did they have business there? Were they just getting out of Jerusalem?

But here's the thing: a stranger joined them on their journey. Sure, we know it was Jesus, but they didn't. He was just a 'stranger' to them, a stranger who asked them what they were discussing and then, after they told him, the stranger told them about the scriptures.

Seven miles later, the stranger was going on but the two disciples asked him to stay with them. And when he blessed and broke the bread for their dinner, they recognized him and 'poof', he disappeared.

The most important thing about the whole story is how they realized that their 'hearts burned' when he was talking with them. Their hearts burned from the words of a stranger.

Scripture, both Hebrew and Christian, urge us  to 'welcome the stranger' and show hospitality to the one we do not know.

In today's culture, we are taught that the stranger is to be shunned, kept out, avoided, mistrusted.

That is upside down and inside out to what our Faith proclaims. It is the stranger that can warm our hearts and teach us something new, lead us to lean into a new possibility.

As I told you yesterday, God leads us to the edge and asks us to step off, trusting that either our foot will find something solid or God will teach us to fly.

Today, more than ever, we need to tread near that edge into the unknown and step off. That is the faith we are called to show--to embrace the stranger in our midst.

There is a story I've shared before but fits so well here I will share it once more.

A holy rabbi has taught his followers all night on the bank of a river. As dawn is breaking, he asks them, "When is there enough light to see?"

One replies, "when we can tell the palm trees from the date trees on the other side of the river--that is enough light to see."

The rabbi ponders and then says, "no, that is not enough light to see."

Another follower says, "there is enough light to see when we can tell the young sheep from the young goats on the other side of the river."

After a while, the rabbi says, "no that is not enough light to see."

They all fall silent and wait. Finally the rabbi says, "there is enough light to see when we can look into the face of any human being and see the Face of God."

May the light of this Easter season give us new eyes and enough light to see....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.