Third Sunday of Easter – Luke 24:13-35
Pastor Carol Soderholm
Today’s Gospel is another resurrection story which finds two troubled disciples walking the 7 mile road - away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. Away from the tragedy of what happened in Jerusalem to a new and different city.
Why does Luke add the road is 7 miles? It’s interesting.
The biblical number 7 can signify completion and perfection. Creation was completed and perfected in 7 days. The entire world calculates a 7-day week based on the Old Testament story of Creation. Maybe Luke is telling us that Jesus has completed (perfectly completed) his work on earth.
They are walking away from Jerusalem where all the pain and disappointment happened. Just as Jesus appeared to the two Mary’s as they were running on the road to Galilee, Jesus appears to the 2 disciples on a road. All are going somewhere; going from the old to the new: new faith and new future. All on a journey of a kind. Last week Jesus confronted the two Mary’s with “Greetings”. Today he confronts the two disciples and asks them
“What were you discussing while you were walking along?”
They don’t recognize him so they get annoyed. “Are you the only one that does not know what has just taken place in Jerusalem for three days? When Jesus asks them what happened they say, “Don’t you know about the man called Jesus crucified for apparently no reason. We had hoped he’d be the one to save and redeem Israel.” Then Jesus helps them understand. He says, “Didn’t I tell you I would have to suffer and die in order to enter into the glory God has given me?” Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
They urge him to stay with them and he does. While with them he breaks bread and now they do indeed recognize him, and are probably full of joy. NOT FOR LONG. They now have to go forward and at great risk – tell others about Jesus.
They embark on a new journey. AND, for all 11 of them it is indeed a hard journey….a journey full of painful and challenging experiences.
The Camino de Santiago in Spain is a Christian pilgrimage from Pomplona to Camino de Santiago…..known in English as the Way of St James. It is a walking pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of 68 miles. Done prayerfully it usually takes 30 – 35 days. The goal of the woman that I knew who took it was spiritual growth, a deeper faith and, hopefully, a major life change. For all who have walked this path over the centuries it was the same: seeking a deeper faith and a major life change. The disciples are in the midst of a major life change!!!! Having been breathed on by Jesus when they were gathered in the upper room – they are on the way to a new life. By the way, the early Christians called themselves The Way. (Acts 9:2 and 23:4)
You and I are on that same journey today – the same journey begun by the disciples on the road to Emmaus and the two Mary’s as they ran to Galilee. We are walking through our lives just like them, mindful of Jesus’ presence and Jesus’ call, and sometimes with our hearts burning within us. Can you remember a time when your heart was burning within you with love for Jesus?
The disciples probably moved into the future with a good deal of faith – and a smattering of fear. The first time I stepped into a pulpit 33 years ago my legs were visibly shaking. Even today all these years later, as I have confessed to you, I feel insecure and shaky on Sunday mornings. I feel joy AND a sense of alarm. Am I speaking your word, God? Is it my word??? Is it honest? Is it true? Is it what YOU want me to say?
We all certainly have faith, but because we are human we too have a dose of fear.
Especially now. What will the future bring? What will the future bring for our children? We have fewer and fewer answers – only questions. How will this pandemic end? Will it radically change our lives? Will we die? Will people we love die? How long will this go on? They are talking about a second and third wave. Will that include my precious grandchildren? How will they live full lives again?
What will we have learned? How will we have grown? Will our understanding be greater? Will our compassion be deeper? Will our faith be stronger?
We do not know. They did not know. They must have had a gazillion questions about it all. They walked into their future by faith and not by sight. We too walk into tomorrow by faith and not by sight.
Listen to how hard the journey of faith was for Paul; “5 times I have received 40 lashes, three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. For a night and a day I was adrift at sea, and on frequent journeys in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters. And besides all these things I am under daily anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-29
Dear people I will end this meditation by offering two thoughts
- there is one way and one way only to go forward. For all of us there is only one answer. And it’s the last verse from the second reading for today from Peter “Through Jesus you have come to trust in God. Now that you have purified your souls, brothers and sisters, so that you have genuine love, LOVE ONE ANOTHER DEEPLY FROM THE HEART. You have been born anew not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”
We have come to trust in God. That’s number one.
We have learned to love one another from the heart. That’s number one –
2.What results from all these resurrection experiences is the creation and continuation of the community. Just as Creator God in the beginning brings to life the first person, so the risen Christ brings back to life the frightened community of his followers. Jesus gathers them back into a faith community because he knows the only way to go forward is in and with community. We learn to trust God in community. We learn to love each other from the heart in community. We have a greater courage to step out in faith in community.
So – COME TO CHURCH. If you don’t have a church, come to our church. All the things God promises in Jesus Christ are here…..in a community of friends and disciples gathered and set free to live fully no matter what hardship by Jesus himself.