Emmaus Again; April 23, 2023 Third Sunday of Easter

Order of Worship for this Reflection can be found here: Bulletin-04-23-2023 Easter 3 YA

Scripture Reference: Luke 24:13-35

Let us pray:

Open our eyes, O Resurrected One, that we may see, and in seeing, live and move and have our being in you, on behalf of others; may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Luke’s gospel portrays the journey of Jesus toward Jerusalem as constant movement: movement from heaven to earth, from hills to Bethlehem, from Judah to Egypt then to Nazareth in Galilee to Capernaum by the sea. Then to the Jordan river and the desert, then from Capernaum all through Israel through Samaria then on into Judea and then to the city of Jerusalem, his week of Passion, and subsequent resurrection. Jesus even continues to move through forty days of post-resurrection appearances to the day of Ascension,

“For Luke the journey of Jesus and of the church itself expresses the unfolding history of salvation that finds its origin in Israel and through the Spirit extends salvation to the ‘ends of the earth.’”[1]

At two particular moments in today’s passage, however, movement stops. (pause) Something important happens each time. (pause) What?  The first time, Jesus in Cognito intercepts the disciples along the road and asks them what they were discussing. Luke says, in verse 17, “They stood still.”  I wonder what this suggests.  Perhaps,

“…When God enters a conversation we think we are having with one another… we have surely come to a crossroad…not the miles before us [or the miles behind us] but the moment at hand [when] eternity…has…invaded time”[2] ([author ad.], Emphasis added).

Commentator Cynthia Jarvis notes, “When has God’s Word interrupted the church’s idle conversations and effectively called a halt to our frantic forward momentum?”[3] To which I can only reply, “When indeed?” Transitional ministry may not seem like a divine interruption; more like an interruption of our comfortable state; but I have to stand back and wonder, if we remain in serious conversation with this text, what might God be able to speak into this moment while it may feel uncomfortably like the church is “standing still?” Perhaps one answer lies in the second time movement ceases in today’s text.

The second time movement ceases is at Emmaus. The still unknown Jesus acts as if he is going on, but the disciples invite and urge him to be their guest; he comes in and sits at table with them. There, at the table, movement ceases for a moment. In that stillness, the tables are turned. Instead of the disciples offering the ritual table blessing as the hosts, Luke records, “When [Jesus] was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.” (Vv. 30–31, emphases added)

I can only imagine they sat there, stunned for a moment in stillness and reflection of what had just happened before exclaiming, in verse 32, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” I am curious if some of you may feel like this congregation is in a point of collective stunned stillness. Yet, I also wonder: in that stillness is it easier to tune your hearts, minds, and spirits to God and what God may be doing among you? Can we treat this moment as if God is speaking to us right now?

If a prophetic voice were to tell us: now is our chance to examine earth, to minutely examine our own actions upon it and to it, and delve deeply into the mystery of sustainability for all life, would we listen?  Or, would we turn our backs, close our hearts, shut our minds to science and eat away at the safeguards generations have put in place to protect what cannot – must not – be wasted? During Earth Day yesterday, and indeed during each day this next week, how many of us invite Jesus to come in and sit at table with us?  Has he turned the tables on us and opened our eyes?

I would like to invite you into a bit of imaginative theological consideration: what if …

“…we [allowed ourselves to be] vulnerable enough to [put our name] in the place of Cleopas’s unnamed traveling companion,”[4] what then would we experience?  Could it be, “the stones sealing the tombs of our hearts will be rolled back too?”[5] Not only in matters of faith – faith in Jesus, but also of faith in what we are called to do in this moment when our world, in stillness, waits for our own resurrecting moments to emerge and grace the Earth with beauty and peace.  I can imagine God saying,

“Come, my little butterflies, do not crawl back into your cocoons.  Unfurl your new-found wings…and fly!”

May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen?  May it be so.

[1] Donald Senior, “Exegetical Perspective, Luke 24:13-35,” Feasting on the Word Commentary Year A, (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

[2] Cynthia A. Jarvis, “Homiletical Perspective, Luke 24:13-35,” Feasting.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Shannon Michael Pater, “Pastoral Perspective, Luke 24:13-35,” Feasting.

[5] Ibid.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
This entry was posted in Christian Education, Conversation Starters, Reflection, Worship. Bookmark the permalink.

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