Readings and reflection from Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life Sunday, April 19, 2015 Easter III.
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The Call to Worship
Answer me when I call, O God, have mercy and hear my prayer.
ALL: Even when we worship the things of the world and follow false gods call us closer to You.
God has done marvelous things yet hears us when we cry out in pray.
ALL: We stand in awe of your glory and pray to you in silence.
We put our trust in you oh God with gladness in our hearts.
ALL: You take away anxiety and give us rest and safety in Your love.
Oh God made known to us in the breaking of the bread: Open our eyes that we may see your goodness in the world. Move us to share in your compassionate love for all humanity and work for justice in the world. Amen
A Reading from the wisdom of William L. Fischer
“Jesus Christ showed all of us that we each have direct access to God. He did not walk across the land saying, ‘Look what I, as the son of God, can do.’ Rather, he walked among the people, telling them in effect, ‘Here is what you, as a child of God, can do’…He told us of our true estate: we are reflections of God Almighty.”
A Reading from the Gospel According to Luke (24.13-24, 28-31)
Two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. 15 While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. 16 They were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast. 18 The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days?” 19 Jesus asked, “What things?”
They said to him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet. 20 But he was handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21 We had hoped he was the one who would rescue [our homeland]. All these things happened three days ago. 22 But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they had even seen a vision of angels who told them he is alive.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said. They didn’t see him.”
28 When they came to Emmaus, Jesus acted as if he was going on ahead. 29 But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.
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“Our Road to Emmaus”
As we continue through out Easter season in the church year we find two followers of Jesus walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. This was only about a 7 mile journey so even on foot this was not a strenuous journey under normal circumstances. But these friends of Jesus are walking along discussing the horrible and strange events of the past few days they have experienced.
And as they talk a man, overhearing their conversation, engages them and asks them what they’re talking about. And they look at him in shock and ask him pointedly, “Are you the only [person] who is unaware of the things that have [happened] over the last few days?” A modern day equivalent might be two people on a train from New York City in the days after 9/11/01 talking about the events that happened there and having someone ask them what they’re talking about.
Now this initial interaction could not have happened if the two who were walking had not been talking with each other about the trauma that they had experienced. And they would never have interacted with the one who walked with them if they had just emotionally shut down when the stranger asked them what they were discussing. Their openness to talk about their feelings and tell the story of the trauma again opened them to an encounter with the risen Christ.
These who are walking together are described as “downcast.” They are looking down, walking away from Jerusalem, but they are met on the road by a man walking along with them. I imagine that most of the people walking along the road with them are also talking quietly together. I imagine that these travelers are much like me when I get on an airplane, I put on my noise canceling headphones and often never share a word past “hello” or “goodbye.” But in our story the stranger engages them and the travelers are respond.
And they are so present to and engaged with this fellow traveler that when they come to their journey’s end and the stranger appears to be traveling on, they invite him to stay with them for the night and share a meal. They open themselves even further to a relationship with the stranger.
In our culture, having a meal together is an accepted and even expected way for people to get to know one another. Sharing a meal is an intimate experience and often we find common ground with people when we “break bread” together. And surely this is what happened in our story. When the stranger took the bread, broke it and blessed it, Cleopas and his companion suddenly recognized the risen Christ in the person of the stranger. They had their own resurrection experience while talking together and sharing a meal.
Even though this story is nearly 2000 years old the principles in it ring as true today as they did then. I believe this story is placed here in Luke’s gospel to communicate some truths to us… Truths that are timeless.
- Trauma is real and our reaction is to get away from the source, withdraw, look down, and keep moving.
- Talking with someone who has been through a similar situation can help us make sense of it.
- Telling the story of our trauma to others keeps us from becoming isolated, it keeps us open to being in relationship with others.
- A stranger is only a stranger until they become a friend through talking, sharing meals, and getting to know one another.
- The risen Christ will always appear when human beings are engaged in a sharing, caring, relationship with each other.
You see I believe that the risen Christ becomes known to us in the space between two people who are in right relation with each other. The Divine spark placed within each of us is activated in the exchange of intimacy, sharing stories, empathizing with one another, really listening and genuinely trying to understand each other. And I believe that this resurrection experience is just waiting to happen for all of us. And all we have to do to access it is open ourselves to being in respectful, genuine, intimate relationship with each other.
This is the lesson of the experience on the road to Emmaus. God’s presence is always available to us, often carried to us by strangers we encounter on our journey, and always visible to us when we share ourselves in loving-kindness. Sharing God’s compassion heals us. Whether we appear to be the giver or receiver, we are healed in relationship, we are resurrected from the disappointments of life in the love of a fellow traveler.
May we all be open to our experience of the risen Christ in our encounters this week. And may we be willing to share ourselves to enliven that experience for others. Amen.