Reading: Luke, chapter 24, verses 13-35
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.
18Then 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?’
19Jesus 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, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But 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.
22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and 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. 24Some 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.’
25Then Jesus said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But 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. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?’
33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Sometimes life doesn’t live up to our expectations. Who would have thought that CoVid-19 would spread, with such far-reaching effects on work, governments, health care, education, grocery shopping? Planning for events or vacations during the summer is also up in the air. I was to have participated in 2 or 3 events, where one has been cancelled and the others are in limbo.
What must it have been like for Cleopas and his buddy, as they walk along the road? Jesus was supposed to stand up against the Roman authorities, and send them packing. Jesus was supposed to enable Israel to be able to rule itself. But then Jesus was killed in a humiliating way. And the tomb was empty when the women went to prepare his body for burial!
Nothing is making sense to them. They are overwhelmed, because, well, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Jesus takes them to task for not linking what happened, with the words of the prophets imaging what it would be like when the Messiah came.
How, like Cleopas and his buddy, are we finding it difficult to get things into perspective right now? Some days are okay. But other days, not so much? How is the anxiety, concern or worry we feel affecting our sleeping and our eating, our blood pressure and our blood sugar, and our ability to get things done?
What does Jesus do? He accompanies the men along the road. Jesus accepts their invitation to their table. Jesus remains with these men. He doesn’t abandon them because they don’t remember the teachings of the prophets. Once seated at the table he immediately takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it apart and shares the bread with them. It is in this ritual that the men recognize Jesus. We don’t have to reason why Jesus disappears from their presence. By Jesus’ actions, Cleopas and his buddy recognize Jesus’ presence among them. They understood, that even though their expectations hadn’t been met, Christ was among them. They were not alone!
Christ is among us, as well. And I know we say this, and pray this. And maybe it doesn’t really seem like Christ is present among us, all the time, in so many words. In the depth of our feelings, we are distracted by worry and concern, feeling tired and being overwhelmed, frustration and even anger. We might not have the time or energy to go looking for Jesus.
Yet, Christ-is-with-us. Jesus accompanies us. We know that through the ordinary actions of putting food on our plate or sharing food with someone; each time we pour ourselves a glass or wine or something else to drink, Jesus is there. Jesus said, we would find him in these ordinary, everyday actions. We just have to look.
I invite you each time you prepare food, to be conscious of Christ being with you. And whether you live alone or with someone else, to recognize Jesus is with you in the ordinary things of each day, whether around food preparation, or enjoying the sun, or working in the garden. Christ is there.
Cleopas and his buddy felt abandoned by Jesus. Why did things happen the way they did? Why? It took Jesus doing an ordinary thing, blessing and sharing the bread, something done at every meal, for them to realize that Christ was with them. Jesus had not abandoned them.
Perhaps as we intentionally look for Christ in the ordinary things we do each day, we’ll find him. And our hearts will burn. Amen.
God of our living, we strive to find you by looking for you in the “wrong” places. You aren’t a puzzle to solve. There are no magic words we have to use to find you in our lives.
You are there in the sunlight and in the rain. You are there in our laughter and our tears. You are with us at birth and at death.You are there in the space between our words. You are with us in exclamation. You are with us in our silence of being alone.
God of wonder and surprise, embrace us with your love and hope and peace this day. Amen.
Sue Nicolls, April 29, 2020