Sunday mornings happen so fast. I spend a lot of time during worship – much to Andy’s chagrin – tweeting everything. Pictures of the college kids or prayers from the bulletin and a response or two to the sermon. But, I rarely take time on Monday to think and reflect on what fed me from the sermon. I’m going to take Mondays to blog about Sunday mornings and hopefully something to anchor me during the week.
It’s the season of Easter. I love all of these texts – from Doubting Thomas to the road to Emmaus. We mourned with Mary. We looked into and fingered Jesus’ wounds with Thomas. We locked the doors and shut ourselves up with the disciples. We struggled with the followers on the road who recounted over and over all that had transpired in Jerusalem. Yesterday, FPC had a guest preacher since Andy and Rachel were out of commission last week. I continue to be most impressed not with the sense of conquering and spiritual battle and victory over the powers of evil but with the theme of God’s abiding and steadfast presence. God’s nearness. God being Emmanuel. God didn’t give up on us. God loved us so much to go through hell for our sake. God’s got us. In a time when there were so many unexpected deaths of loved ones in the lives of those around us, it felt like this promise was all the more necessary for survival.
The passage from Sunday was Luke 12:13-35 and my eyes keep seeing “Jesus himself came near and went with them.” So much of the Gospels talks about sight and vision, seeing God and being seen by God. Being seen means more than acknowledgment or observation, but understanding. Empathy. Compassion. A suffering-with and solidarity beyond the mere gaze and glance.
“I believe that although the two disciples did not recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus, Jesus recognized them, that he saw them as if they were the only two people in the world. And I believe that the reason why the resurrection is more than just an extraordinary event that took place some two thousand years ago and then was over and done with is that, even as I speak these words and you listen to them, he also sees each of us like that.” Buechner
After interpreting the Scriptures to the followers about the suffering of the Messiah the two men urged Jesus to stay with them.
“So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the 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. 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?”
There’s something so un-remarkable about this encounter. “Cleopas and his companion are nobodies who have no idea what God might be doing. They could be any one of us. Their road to Emmaus is an ordinary road, the road each of us is on every day. This is what sets this story apart from other accounts of Jesus’ Easter appearances.” (Amy Hunter, Christian Century). But, this is where Jesus meets them, and changes their lives forever. They become some of the first missionaries – these nobodies – tellers of the Good News, bearers of God’s new kingdom … and their faith and hope are restored in ways they likely never expected at the moment.
I need this reminder. To embrace the ordinary this week. (That was my One Word last year.) Ordinary. Which means, all the gazillion trips to the grocery store, phone conversations with friends old and new, never-ending interruptions by all the children during the day, and the brief quiet at night right after the kids go down and I inevitably fall asleep. To remember and open myself up to the ways Jesus comes near, whether I’m standing still or walking or spacing out or staring out the windows. To receive and to love and give as much as I’m able, and let that fire burn from the inside out.