Easter 3A – Our Road to Emmaus
May 7, 2011
“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…”
I haven’t asked him, but I’m pretty sure there’s at least one place
that Pr. Mike did not visit when he was in the Holy Land…
and that place is Emmaus.
The reason I’m pretty sure he didn’t go there,
is that no one knows where it is!
Emmaus doesn’t show up on any ancient maps,
or in any historical writings,
or even in any other parts of the Bible.
So where were the disciples going?
Some people believe that the gospel-writer Luke intentionally used a name of an unknown village so that all of us could relate to it.
Emmaus is the place that we all head for when we need to sort things out.
Emmaus is the place where we make our way when life doesn’t turn out as we thought it would.
Emmaus is the place we reach for when we are disappointed or despairing.
Emmaus is the place we go when we need to think about what happened with Jesus.
The disciples left Jerusalem believing that hope was gone.
They say, ‘we had hoped that he would be the one who redeemed Israel,’
but look what happened…he was killed.
They saw no miracle .
They saw no display of power.
They saw no victorious king.
All they saw was a man flogged and crucified like an ordinary criminal;
a man who bled and died just like anyone else would.
That was not what was supposed to happen.
That’s not the king they were looking for.
And now, on this third day, things have just gotten stranger.
There’s talk about an empty tomb
and a couple of angels saying that he is still alive…
The disciples need to get a handle on things.
They need some time to talk and think about it.
What really happened with Jesus? Where is he?
And they head to Emmaus to sort it out.
I imagine that many of us have been heading to Emmaus this week.
We’ve been trying to sort things out..
We’ve been talking and thinking about what happened with Jesus.
Where is Jesus really in the midst of this news about Osama bin Laden’s death
– this death which has engulfed the news of our world for the past week?
There have been mixed emotions.
Relief that one who caused so much destruction cannot do so any longer.
Pride in the courage and skill of our military and intelligence officers.
Disappointment that a death could be cause for celebration.
Uncertainty about the line between justice and revenge.
Doubt about the proper response for a Christian.
We’ve been wondering what happened with Jesus.
Where is he really in the midst of this world event?
So we too have been headed to Emmaus this week.
Talking things out,
Thinking things through,
at home with our families;
on the bus with our friends;
on Facebook and Twitter;
at the restaurant counter.
As the two disciples made their way to Emmaus,
He listens to their confusion, their ambiguity, their uncertainty.
He says how foolish they are!
How slow of heart they are!
And then he interprets everything for them – starting with Moses and the prophets, and then all Scripture.
Jesus has been listening in on our conversations
and thoughts this week too.
He’s been listening to our confusion, our ambiguity, our uncertainty.
And I imagine many times he’s been thinking about how foolish and slow of heart we are too!
Don’t you just wish that he could be standing here this evening
to interpret Scripture in light of these events for us?
How is a Christian to respond?
My heart aches for the families who lost loved ones due to the evil actions of bin Laden.
I am angry that firefighters, police officers, and other first responders unnecessarily lost their lives.
I am saddened that the war on terror has cost the lives of those in the military and innocent civilians;
that money which could be used to help people in need has been diverted for defense purposes;
that there are too many veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and other injuries that will impact them and their loved ones for the rest of their lives.
I want it to stop.
I want peace.
And I don’t know how best to help make that happen.
I’ve been on my way to Emmaus.
And like those first disciples, I have two things with me:
I have Moses and the prophets;
and I have Jesus – his words and his actions.
This is what Jesus says:
“Blessed are the peacemakers.”
“If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
“Do not judge.”
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Seek first God’s reign and God’s justice.
The road heading to Emmaus is not a comfortable place to be.
The correct route is not found on a map.
There is doubt and uncertainty all along the way.
Yet, if there’s anything redeeming about this week, it’s the struggle itself.
We’ve had to look at Scripture more closely.
We’ve had to look for Jesus more closely.
We’ve had discussions about faith –
– good, evil, God, love, forgiveness, justice,
– with people and in places where we don’t usually talk about those things.
We may not have all the answers about
what the correct response for a Christian should be,
but we do know that just as he accompanied the two disciples, Jesus comes along with us in our struggle about it.
Jesus hears our thoughts and our prayers.
He listens to our hearts which are too slow at times,
and our minds which are foolish at times.
But he doesn’t give up on our human weaknesses.
He stays with us through them all.
The disciples finally reached their destination.
They arrive in Emmaus, and they invite Jesus to come in.
They haven’t yet recognized him,
but when they break bread with him, their eyes are opened, and they know who he is.
Tonight we will break bread together.
Tonight once again we will hear the promise that
whatever has happened this week, Jesus is still with us,
standing with us, struggling with us, and loving us anyway,
in the bread and the wine.
The road to Emmaus is not an easy one.
But Jesus walks with us every step of the way.
Take and eat – this is for you.