The Emmaus road story is one I think we can all appreciate right now.
Why not insert your name next to that of Cleopas and walk the story through again.
As you walk that dusty road, recall how you feel about the lockdown, frustration, hurt, fear and maybe anger. Perhaps, as a Christian, you feel robbed of the climatic event, the Easter communion. Perhaps you had a trip or holiday booked, now gone. Just as their hopes were dashed so to do we have cause to wring our hands in frustration. Right there on that road is disappointment, broken dreams a sense of not knowing what comes next. Jesus hadn’t done what they hoped for, he was not the great liberator, he was the miracle worker whose miracles seemed to have let him down at the last, and now, poof! It’s all gone.
I wonder as they walked along, did they rehearse what was, what is and what might be next? Have you done this lately? I know I have. The media certainly have. What will the world, our country, our community look like after the lockdown? Will we avoid sharing the peace. Will we avoid taking communion in both kinds or just one?
We have the added sting of knowing the end of this little part of the story, they break bread with Jesus, and it’s great. Wham, they realise it’s Jesus and zip he’s gone then they’re off to tell the others. They do what we are prevented from doing, sharing a meal with Jesus.
When I read that part, my heart grew heavy. Knowing the significance the Christian faith puts on this story and its relationship to the promise of the Eucharist, to meet the risen Jesus in the mystery of communion. To share bread and wine, shoulder by shoulder with sisters and brothers in Christ.
But the road wasn’t just a place for broken dreams and misery; it was the place Jesus came alongside. It was the place the disciples could talk with God about their grief, their broken dreams, their disappointment. Unwittingly they laid bare their heartache, and in turn, Jesus brought healing. He took them back to scripture; he refocussed the lenses which they used to understand scripture. To see not just the small, narrow slice of the plan which gave them a very earthly hope. Instead, a glimpse toward the cosmos stretching scope of God’s plan. A plan shot through with Jesus, from beginning to end. He set their hearts on fire right there in their brokenness, in their grief on the road.
The road then became a place of hope as they discussed together, learned together, listened to Jesus together. An experience we can still have today as we pray with each other and for each other over the phone, in email, via skype or Zoom or FB. Just this week, I spent time discussing life and theology with a friend in Wales. While separated by distance, we were together in spirit and word with Jesus beside us, guiding us, with laughter and healing. In that, we found our sense of community, rooted in Christ, the one in whom we are all called to abide.
Jesus offers each of us healing on the road. To come alongside us in our hurt, pain and confusion where again he will gently remind us of the scope of God’s awesome plan of liberation for everything in creation. Jesus invites us to explore scripture with him, with himself as the lens.
As God’s pilgrim people are we willing to listen out for the voice of the stranger, the voice of Jesus who will show us new ways of seeing and being, who will set our hearts on fire in this new world?