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Posts Tagged ‘Emmaus’

Ordinary and Holy

Ordinary and Holy

A Sermon on Luke 24:13-35

 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Emmaus is probably where these two followers of Jesus lived.  One was named Cleopas, but no one knows who the other one was.  It might have been Cleopas’ wife, or another family member.  Some people suggest that the author deliberately left the second disciple unnamed as an invitation to us to picture ourselves in that spot, walking alongside Cleopas.

As the two companions walked they went back over the details of all they had witnessed: the shocking violence and cruelty of Friday, and the moment when Jesus took his last breath, when all seemed lost.  But now, since the report of the women who visited the empty tomb that morning, there was confusion added.  Maybe all wasn’t lost after all.  Was it worth it to get their hopes up?

At some point Jesus himself drew up beside them, but they didn’t recognize him.  He looked like another ordinary traveler.  Nothing stood out about him. “What’s this you’re talking about back and forth as you walk along,” he asked.

Cleopas and his companion stopped in their tracks, their faces full of sadness.  How could this stranger not know what had been happening!  The people of Jerusalem could talk of nothing else.  It was like somebody now being totally oblivious to what’s going on with the COVID-19 virus.

“You must be the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening,” Cleopas replied.

“What things?” Jesus asked.  And then he listened patiently while the two companions poured out the whole story.

“Um, um, um,” Jesus replied.  “How slow you are to trust the words of the prophets.”  He went on to show them what he meant.  He took them on a walk through the prophets, starting with Moses, and showed how all the pieces of what had happened to him fit together with the scriptures.  The two found themselves hanging on Jesus’ words.

The afternoon flew by, and evening fell as they reached their destination.  Jesus appeared to be going further, but the two companions insisted, “Look! It’s going to be dark soon.  Come in and stay with us.”  I wonder if they remembered Abraham welcoming the three angels of God back in Genesis.  In any event they were eager to show hospitality to this new friend they had made along the way, and he accepted. 

At the supper table their new friend took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.  Wait!  They had seen this before.  They had seen Jesus do this before when he shared the bread with the crowd, and then again at the last supper.  In a flash it was clear.  This wasn’t a stranger.  This was the risen, living Christ himself, and he had been there with them the whole time.  And in that same instant, he vanished from their sight.  “That’s where the fire in our hearts came from while we were talking on the road,” they exclaimed.

Jesus had made his loving presence known in such an ordinary, everyday way, nothing at all big or showy.  Just walking and talking and listening together on the way home.  Just breaking bread at the supper table.

What is holy can be experienced in the ordinary and everyday.  On Friday I read a facebook post from a mother who experienced this while out on a walk with her son that afternoon.  She wrote, “At one point, my 9-year-old and I were holding hands and talking quietly.  Suddenly I felt God show up with us.  I asked my son, ‘Do you feel God with us right now?’ He said yes in a definitive tone.  I asked him if he is just feeling God with us now, or all along.  He said, ‘Just now.  I know God is with us all the time, but I just felt Him now.’ I asked him how it feels to him.  He said, ‘Like someone standing right behind us but is invisible!’  (This was exactly how I was experiencing God, too.). Then I told him about a friend of mine who really needs prayer, and suggested we pray for her.  We continued walking together, holding hands, as I prayed out loud for my friend.

“God is so good,” she continued. “My faith has been dry lately.  God showing up, and being experienced by my son at the same time as me, was a real gift.”  (Jessica Hetherington, facebook post on the RevGal BlogPals page, Friday, May 1, 2020.). Sounds like they were on the Emmaus road, with Jesus walking right alongside.

The simplest situations and the simplest actions can become a place where Jesus’ loving presence is known.  Two friends opening their hearts to one another, and the next thing you know, they realize he is there with them.  Grownups taking time for children, to listen to them, to read with them, or to watch them stretch their wings, and there he is.  

There he is, holy and loving, when someone uses skill and kindness to ease another person’s suffering, to help in the healing.  Tired, sad travelers open the door, and there stands someone with a plastic container of food.  There Jesus is again.

Right now we can’t get physically close to one another as we spend time walking around in the scriptures and share Christ’s meal together at the table, but we are continuing to do those simple things as best we can.  And Christ is with us.  We are still close in heart, and he is using the simple means we do have to kindle the flames of hope in our hearts. His love burns in our hearts.

The holy One was present yesterday, sanctifying a joyous moment for Elizabeth, Daniel, Raylee Jean, and all of us who love them.  I wish every child, everywhere had that many people loving them and rooting for them.  And I believe God is working on that.  I’m glad we can help. (Note: the congregation was able to share the moment when our expectant parents learned that their baby is a girl.)

The wonders of our living, holy God are all around and among us.  The heavens declare God’s glory, the creatures declare their maker’s praise, the elements of the earth point to their creator.  Our creator.

We do not always see or feel Christ’s holy presence with us, but we trust him to be there all along.  Not just in the extraordinary, but in the everyday and ordinary, filling our hearts with his love, covering our lives with his grace, everywhere on this road.  We certainly are walking alongside those two on the road to Emmaus.  But even more importantly, the risen Christ is walking alongside us.  Thanks be to God!

AMEN.

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