Sunday 26 April 2020 Theme: The Road
Reading Luke 24
Good Morning Boys and Girls,
I wonder if any of you have ever mistaken one person for another, it can be
easily done at night, in the rain especially in a crowded place.
People can dress in the same colours or style as someone you know and if it is dark or you have been crying you may not see the person as you normally would. Usually we recognise a person when we see their face in the light or we hear their voice.
This story takes place at night, the friends of Jesus may have been crying because they thought their friend was dead. Perhaps they had their heads are bowed down with sadness because somehow they did not recognise their leader even though he walked some miles beside them on the road.
It was the evening of the day of Jesus rising, two disciples were walking towards village called Emmaus and someone they did not recognise came alongside.
They walked and talked together. The stranger asked what they were talking about. They replied how upset they were that their leader, for whom they had great hopes had been put to death. They were clearly dazed, worried and sad because they just could not ‘see’ who was beside them. The two disciples had heard some women say Jesus tomb was empty but they did not believe this was important. How could someone who was dead be alive? However, this stranger explained the scriptures about the Messiah to them. It was along walk and they were really impressed with his teaching so when they were stopping for the night they ask him to join them for some food. It was when he broke the bread and saw his face they realised who their companion was.
Their friend Jesus was alive and with them. You will never guess what they did next? From being sad, heads down and crying. They became happy, bursting with energy and they hurried all the way back to Jerusalem with the great news to tell all the disciples – Jesus is risen!
We pray the blessing prayer for the children,
Lord you are full of surprises, you meet us at night, walking on the road, at our tables in our bread. Meet us afresh today and bless all our children and all children in Jesus strong name. Amen
Bible Reading: Luke 24 verse 28-35]
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us[f] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
This road story is the most important of the rising stories concerning Jesus for Christians in our current situation.
The story is called the Road to Emmaus. I am going to contrast with Cormac McCarthy’s a prize-winning novel and film called simply, ‘The Road’.
McCarthy’s book is a brilliant piece of writing, but is very bleak. Life appears to have been extinguished save for a few pitiless souls left to walk the barren ash choked wasteland killing, stealing and scavenging for what’s left of any food.
The Road to Emmaus is surely one of the most joyful chapters in the whole bible. As the arc of the story is a transformation of two disciples from dejected to elated as I described to the children.
McCarthy’s book is about a father and son. They are discovering a world stripped of life, of colour and a future for humankind. The boy knows nothing of the time before the disastrous event. He lives in constant fear. For the father it is worse. He has a desperate sadness at what has been lost, which he is loathe to articulate because he thinks the happy memories of a different past will only upset his son even more as he has known only brokenness.
In contrast, the Emmaus is story prepares us for change, following a positive encounter with Christ leading into a new joyful exciting future.
In McCarthy’s tale the man is getting sicker by the day as they travel through the seemingly eternal grey, inhospitable, wasteland. There is no sun, they are fighting starvation, the days growing darker and colder as if heralding a nuclear style winter. It comes over to me as McCarthy’s fear for our planet. Greed has led to disaster and everything is getting worse.
Whereas the Emmaus Story is a beautiful, condensed story of the experience of the followers of Christ in the early church during the first years following the resurrection. Contained within it are three messages
1) the risen Jesus still helps the church interpret the scriptures of the Old Testament,
2) Jesus is present with us when we share food together, in or outwith church.
3) Jesus walks with us on our journey whether we are fully aware of it or not, occasionally we recognise Christ present right beside us.
Especially today in our discomfort in Colombo and beyond, we can be enlivened by this resurrection story. It is a story for this very time. It is tale for everyone who is burdened or heavy laden. Even in our disappointment can come something life-changing, invigorating, extra-ordinary. We will laugh and run and meet friends again.
This good news we receive from Christ is for sharing, so the return journey to Jerusalem is an important close of this story. Jesus’ followers had been experiencing him, the risen Lord, in different ways, but they all come together to tell each other of their experiences. Jerusalem is the scene of closed doors, but it is also the place from which new hope will burst forth across the world as the good news begins to spread outwards. Which of these two ‘road’ stories will better feed your spirit this week? Amen