Scripture - Luke 24:13-31
This year when Lent began, we had expectations of how the season would go. We’d give up our chocolate or soft drinks & spend a little bit more time reading our Bibles & praying. During Holy Week, we’d wave palms & shout “hosanna,” gather at the Lord’s table on Thursday, hear the story of Jesus dying on the cross on Friday, then gather together on Easter Sunday to celebrate the empty tomb & our risen Savior.
However, Holy Week became different really fast. Suddenly we had to give up more than soda; we sacrificed our routine & sense of normalcy to protect our neighbors. Adults have wrestled with technology while teens have struggled with balancing responsibility & escapism in their online habits. The loss of normalcy has brought uncertainty & loss. Canceled graduations, proms, sports, vacations & mission trips scratch only the surface for those whose families have also lost income or stability. What we have known as normal has died.
The season of Easter runs from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, observed on May 31 this year, & is typically a time of celebration. While there are still worthy celebrations this Easter season, it may be more difficult knowing that even by the end of the season life still may not be back to normal. So, what do we do with our grief & our sadness during a season typically marked by celebration?
Easter is one of the most significant moments in the Christian faith. Jesus, fully divine & fully human, died a real death & was buried in a real tomb — but he did not stay there for long. The good news of the gospel is this: God is more powerful than all things, even the ultimate physical distancing measure of death. The God we worship is all about making new things out of dust, like a phoenix rising from its ashes. While this is good news for our future, the reality can feel really dim. Scripture, thankfully, tells us the stories of many people, including Jesus, who encountered death & grief. – (Thanks for the above to Rev. Audrua Malvaez, Irving, TX)
Friends listen for the word that stands the test of time. Listen for the word that lives & moves among us. Listen for the word that God is speaking to us today.
< read Luke 24:13-31 >
It’s a 7-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Two men were walking home toward Emmaus. Somewhere along the way a third person joined them. The new arrival noted the downcast look & the hopelessness surrounding the two. The third person did not seem to know what everyone else knew. Although he had been in Jerusalem, he did not act as if he had heard—he had not heard the shout of a mob, the sound of the lash, the clang of a hammer against spikes.
On the trip, the 2 recounted their memories of the past week in Jerusalem. They told their traveling companion everything they could remember. They spoke of the crowds & the acclamations just the week before. They told of Jesus' teaching in the Temple. The conflict with the Pharisees. The trials, the beatings, the Crucifixion, & the burial—all were presented.
Then the traveler told them about other memories. He spoke of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. He related stories of Saul, David, & Solomon. He disclosed prophesies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, & Ezekiel. He spoke of achievement & disappointment, banishment & renewal, faith & lack of faith. As the third traveler explained & remembered the 2 remembered what they had not really forgotten. As they neared the end of their walk, the two residents of Emmaus followed the example of their forefathers, offering their house as a refuge. It was too late to go on that day. They offered the hospitality commanded by God through Moses.
The 3 of them shared a meal. It was a simple meal. They handed the stranger the bread so he could break off a portion.
Then, a miracle occurred. As the stranger broke the bread, they realized who he was. He was the One who had ridden the donkey into the city. He was the One who had been lashed. He had been nailed to the cross. He was the hope of Israel, a hope that seemed crushed with his death. The Romans were still in power. The people of God were still a captive nation. In remembering, the travelers from Jerusalem to Emmaus discovered a new reality about the events of the past.
The text from Luke illustrates how God reveals himself when we realize & remember. The walk to Emmaus of past centuries can be our walk of realization, remembrance & healing. The 3 travelers remembered the history of their people. They remembered how God had visited them. Their memories were more than memories. A new reality, healed hearts, came to be; a new experience was born in them. Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us, was their reaction.
Those 2 travelers had never experienced such a reality before. Their past was transformed. Their present became their future, new & different. Healed hearts are more than a dream. Healed hearts are a new reality. Healed hearts create something more than what we remember from the past. Healed hearts are a reality that reveals the constant truths of life. Healed hearts set us on a journey that does not end. Healed hearts do make our hearts feel warm. We remember the words, "He is risen!" And in the remembering, that revealing truth becomes fresh & new for us. We experience anew the power & presence of God. He has come to us! We are made fresh through his power. The power of God, which brought Jesus Christ out of the bonds of death, brings us to true life. The power of God in Jesus who walks beside us brings us to life: true, powerful, eternal life.