Archive for April 25th, 2020
Now on that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then 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?” He 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But 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. Moreover, some women in our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and 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. Some 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.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But 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. 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
In these sequestered times we have tried to make every necessary trip to the store count. We make lists and confirm with everyone that we have pre-identified what we will need so that we can get in, and out, and return home with the most efficiency and the least risk of contact. Wendy has a Lysol protocol going out and coming in, with hand washing and sometimes clothes changing based on the destinations we have been required to visit. We have washed more clothes and dishes and take more showers than typical. So it is good that we don’t go out any more often than we have gone.
Invariable, there have been times that go out and return with the full detoxification procedure complete and in the process of putting things away, we realize we have either forgotten something on the list or we find an essential something that was not on the list and we have to turn around and go back to the store. It’s not that exciting to go back to the store to get detergent or vacuum cleaner bags, because that means that after the return trip and re-entry procedures we have chores and cleaning that await.
But if the missed item(s) are chocolate chips for the cookies we planned to bake or butter that makes everything taste better, or you hear from a neighbor that the delivery truck just arrived with a shipment of toilet paper… We are racing with excitement and eagerness.
Think how much more Cleophus and his wife are ready to go back onto the road, at night, to tell the other disciples and followers that Jesus was alive! He has risen! Just as the others had said, and that he had been sitting, talking, teaching, and eating in their home, that they were filled with two powerful emotions: REGRET and JOY.
Holding two such powerful feelings at the same time calls for juggling. One instant they felt bad that they had not recognized Jesus. The next moment, they could see their faith and hope fulfilled. Both emotions will ignite our adrenal glands and endorphins which can make one dizzy and confused.
We have held conflicting emotions this past month. Thrilled to have family time to be in each other’s company and frazzled and frustrated for being so long in each other’s company. The Joy and the Sorrows in one bowl.
This story occurred on the day of resurrection. A day that many people were with Jesus but did not at first recognize him. The women at the tomb, Mary, Peter and John, Cleophus and his wife, all were present with Jesus but were focused on something else.
I know we have all know this feeling. Frances looking for her keys, Wendy her phone, or me and my iPad: these familiar items can be withing five feet of our person and yet we have lost sight of them. We search our past steps and typically return to find them covered or placed just out of sight from where were first recognized they were lost.
We may look at Easter in this way. It was just around the corner and yet we celebrated at home, without the typical traditions, the flowers now faded, the decorations packed away if they were unpacked in the first place. It has already been two weeks and we are eager to see what the new road to exiting our captivity will be like.
Think about our time at home, as Jonah found himself in the belly of the great fish. He too was confined against his will, separated from friends, family, and co-workers. His captivity was part of God’s saving grace. Our ongoing prayers go with those families who have lost loved ones to the virus and for those front-line workers who are bringing comfort and healing to the vast majority of those who have borne this calamity. We all face what the world will look like when we get spewed back on the shore.
If you look back and imagine that past 5-6 weeks, what have you been able to do, accomplish, or start that you most likely would not have done, completed or begun? If you and I only look back and say, “I thought about writing a book, starting a project, spending more time in prayer or study”, and yet we never used this time; When will you take off 5-6 weeks from work to address these goals and projects?
Some may have some touch of regret for just surviving at this time and not thriving. Other may have completed many tasks, projects, goal and begun many new projects and have a great sense of joy and pride. Some have been working steadily in essential positions and this time has been a double duty that has been anything but a break.
This passage from Cleophus and his wife comes as those who looked back on an opportunity missed and still found joy in having lived through it in the presence of Jesus Christ.
There are many things about Jesus, his teaching, his habits and lifestyle that are not recorded in the scriptures; we have questions we certainly hope to hear answers in heaven. So remember that what IS included in the scriptures is no accident nor mistake. Cleophus and his wife, unnamed, are pivotal characters who recognize Jesus even though they were blind to Jesus sitting at their own table. Look around the table, or think about the times you have been sitting around the table, talking and listening, to others; here is where you and I are most likely to hear about Jesus, about God, about the Holy Spirit, about the church, about scriptures. At the table. It was in the breaking of the bread that this ordinary couple recognized the extraordinary news and reality of Jesus, the risen savior.
Take the remaining time in our sheltering at home to begin or confirm the habits of gathering at the table to break bread with Christ and your family, and yourself. For when we return to the new normal we will have the opportunity to share Christ with the world more freely and intimately. But we will have all the worldly distractions to cloud our sight and distract our attention. Use the time that has been granted by this great distancing to be sitting down with Jesus, in scripture and song and help us recognize Jesus with us, without the distractions, in preparation for being spewed up on the shore.
• In this same hour, tell someone what Jesus is doing in your life and faith.
• In this same hour read about Christ’s work and witness among us.
• In this same hour, pick up the phone and share the Good News with someone alone or afraid.
• In this same hour, sing songs of praise and celebrate Jesus’s work in your heart.
• In this same hour, look and listen and know Jesus is with you, and share that joy with the world!
We have at least 2-3 weeks remaining as we begin to reintegrate and return to the new normal. I say NEW normal because we can emerge from this set-back far ahead in our faith if we seeking the moments with Jesus now. The road ahead will be filled with work, worry and fear, we best be finding ways to recognize Jesus now.