St Bartholomew’s, Granite City—Luke 24:13-35
Great 50 days … season of Easter … Sundays give us tome to unpack the various biblical narratives of the risen Christ. Today takes us back to the very day of the resurrection … Cleopas and his unnamed companion were distraught and disoriented … they had been disciples of Jesus (not the inner core, but disciples nonetheless), and their whole mental map of near-term reality was destroyed by Jesus’ death
You and I spend much of our time distraught (real and anticipated loss [personal, national, church], disillusionment, aging and decline)
They encounter the risen Jesus, but there’s something about his resurrected body that prevents them from recognizing him
Again, we are in a position to empathize … you and I are under vows to “seek and serve Christ in every person,” so there’s a real sense in which we can say we have encountered the risen Jesus. But there’s a good chance we haven’t known it! We’re not always attuned to recognizing him, and even when we are, he’s pretty difficult to see in a lot of people we know or meet!
The Emmaus Road disciples engage with the one whom they have met, but know only dimly. Jesus puts their recent experience in the context of a larger story that they are familiar with, breaking open the (OT) scriptures in such a way that they are able to connect some dots … Jesus begins to emerge from the fog
We come together here Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day and holy day by holy day … we engage the same scriptures (along with many others) that Cleopas and his companion engaged with Jesus …. somebody (preacher) shines a light on them and breaks them open for us in such a way that we are able to connect some dots, and Jesus begins to emerge from the fog of our imaginations and memories and take real shape and context in our lives
They arrive at Emmaus and share a meal together … Jesus takes, blesses, breaks, and gives … suddenly they know him for who he has been all along … he is “known to them” in the “breaking of the bread”
After engaging the word, we mimic the action of the meal: take, bless, break, and give. Jesus is present to us and known to us, ministering to us and feeding us with his very self, his very life.
The pattern laid out in this story became the pattern for our regular celebration of the Eucharist. In our reading from Acts (Vol. 2 of the set in which the gospel is Vol. 1), Luke tells us that the early Christians were faithful in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers” (just as we promise in our baptismal vows). The “breaking of bread” is a euphemism for the Eucharist. It is central to our experience of Jesus now, even as it has been since the very first Easter day itself.