It’s oddly appropriate for me, a coincidence I guess, that this gospel reading was the very reading I wrote and spoke about six or seven years ago when I first started this journey of mine towards ordained ministry. That back then, I was at the beginning of a journey on a path of confusion and discernment, about who I was, what I felt called to be, entering into a period of uncertainty of the future before me. And now years later I find myself about to enter yet another of these periods as I leave the relatively safe time of seminary and field education…..beginning yet another walk on another road as I move into parish ministry in a new role.
When we think about other scripture stories we’ve heard about Jesus, it’s interesting to notice, that it’s usually in the closeness of companionship or fellowship…… in a simple walk on a road like this mornings gospel, in the sharing of a meal, and in gathering as community….. whether in joy or hiding in fear…. It’s in these encounters that Jesus truly reveals himself to the disciples. And typically also, these moments are ones of uncertainty and fear, times when people are most desperately seeking answers to their questions. This morning we hear a story of people in relationship with Jesus, who’s eyes open a bit wider…. seeing Him for who He truly is. Its a story that helps reveal something to us even when read today; That it’s in relationship, community, companionship, that we see others for who they truly are. Especially when we open ourselves up to walking with the other.
We’re all I believe, on our own roads to Emmaus. On our own journeys which at times are confusing, disconcerting, and yet at all times full of amazing moments when we open our eyes to them. And sometimes….. it’s in the walk, like the one the disciples find themselves in this morning that we find the space to think and work things out. To clear our minds of the confusing flood of thoughts that sometimes overpower us….. keeping us from seeing the simple truth of the question or struggles in our minds. And it’s in this walking I believe, that we as Christians can sometimes do our best work. When we simply offer to join others on their walk, their journey as they struggle perhaps with sickness, a faith crisis, or perhaps through the death of a loved one. It’s in this walk where we share stories, when we listen deeper to another, and where we offer hope to those who desperately seek it. Its where we become the Christ to one another, listening to the fear and hopes of others just as we hear Jesus did in this story this morning.
As a people of faith, we can receive great comfort in knowing that there are others who will help us see him when we cannot. Even if we feel alone or isolated,….. even if we struggle to see God at work in our own lives, we have others who can help us see that we are never truly alone in our journeys of life and faith. Cleopas and his friend did not journey alone that day, they had each other. When they had the good news to share of seeing Jesus, their first instinct was to run back to Jerusalem and share it with the others, sharing good news that moves us from loneliness and isolation to the comfort of community and companionship. And we share the good news of this Easter season as a community, as a community of faith, and as a church family, we find ways to show the hope we find in the risen Christ to one another as we gather together each Sunday in prayer. We remind others of the presence of the Christ and the hope of the Gospel when they may not see it. When one of us walks the road and cannot recognize that Christ walks with us, we are there to remind each other. Our faith is not individual, but communal,…..we are all on this road, recognizing Christ, together.
I have an incredible understanding of community; of the cloud of witnesses that walk with me today, one much different that when I first started. And you’ve been an important part of my journey. I hope that I’ve been bold enough in my own quiet way to have challenged you with continuing to be who you are; companions in the journey and the hands and feet of Christ to so many in the world. Emmanuel is a special place for people in this difficult world. I’d like to convey my thanks to you for all you’ve done for me. To thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the time YOU took to walk with me over these past two years, offering me companionship in my journey, hospitality in breaking bread with me and the shared joy of discovering Christ in each other. Your presence in this journey will always be a part of who I am and who I will be.
May God always bless you and always keep you all in his loving embrace.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, AMEN