We continue our Easter season with a new resurrection story each week, and todays just might be my favorite: The Road to Emmaus. What a fabulous tale – filled to the brim with symbolism: the journey, the conversation, and finally the broken bread. This is yet another resurrection story centered on seeing – and it helps us connect the dots in many ways. As Tricia Lyons, our preacher last Sunday, mentioned, it’s also all about recognizing Jesus…and how difficult that is for us.
Most of us can identify with Cleopas and his wife (whom I call Anna), trudging home after a tragic and demoralizing experience, the death of Jesus. They had heard the rumors during that Easter Sunday that Jesus had been raised…but they could not believe it. There was no resurrection for them…yet. We’ve been there too, in that place of disappointment, dejection, even hopelessness.
Then a stranger appears and walks with them along the road…and things start to happen. They still aren’t seeing clearly (they can’t recognize that this is Jesus himself!). But gradually, this stranger “opens for them the scriptures” and they do begin to see the grand arc of God’s saving acts through history. Could God act again – in their own day, in their own lives? Can we see it?
The answer for Cleopas and Anna, and the answer for us and all Christians, must be yes: yes God still acts in our lives, yes we can see God’s resurrection power all around us, and yes the risen Christ in fact takes up residence in us – we become his instruments of hope and help in this world.
I thank God I am seeing resurrection everywhere I look: in the late-blooming cherry trees in our yard; in the utter joy and delight of the Cabaret at Paddy’s Pub; in the loving care of this congregation when folks are experience illness, death of a loved one, or other crises; in the life of many small groups and the spiritual sharing and growth that is happening; in increased attendance and interest at Holy Week services this year; in the faithful, generous giving of our congregation for our own needs and for outreach; in the laughter and fun of Tricia Lyons, who enthralled us with her exploration of Harry Potter as a resurrection story par excellence.
Dwelling on resurrection stories does not mean we ignore the bad stuff in life – the hurts and illness and poverty and war. Resurrection in itself acknowledges that death has occurred…but declares a higher power – the power of Life, the power of God. This is hard stuff to get, and to hold onto – that’s why we need all the gatherings, the reminders, the conversations, all the meals and celebrations we can muster. Come and meet Jesus for yourself…in the breaking of the bread. JBM