Sermon for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Based on Luke 24: 13-35
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Our gospel for today presents two of Luke's favourite themes. First, Luke's theology is one of pilgrimage. According to Luke, we are all travellers on a journey. Our life--from beginning to end--is a faith-journey with Jesus Christ. In ancient times, one school of Greek philosophy defined life as movement. Anything or anyone that remained static was not living.
When you think about it, life really does involve movement for us humans. There is physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual movement in our lives, from infancy to adulthood. Luke reminds us today that Christians are a people "on the move," a pilgrim people--travelling the road of life, travelling our Emmaus road. That may be why, in the book of Acts, Luke calls Christians people of "the Way" to symbolize the fact that we haven't reached our final destination yet, we are still travellers.
According to Archimandrite Kallistos Ware: "One of the best known of the Desert Fathers of 4th century Egypt, St. Sarapion the Sindonite, travelled once on pilgrimage to Rome. Here he was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived in one small room, never going out. Sceptical about her way of life--for he was himself a great wanderer--Sarapion called on her and asked: 'Why are you sitting here?' To this she replied: 'I am not sitting. I am on a journey.'
"I am not sitting. I am on a journey. Every Christian may apply these words to himself or herself. To be a Christian is to be a traveller. Our situation is like that of the Israelite people in the desert of Sinai: we live in tents, not houses, for our spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time into eternity."
Each one of us here today is on an Emmaus road journey. We, like the two disciples, travel through all of the different stages of the journey. We move from deep sorrow and grief to doubt, despair and disappointment. Our eyes are also kept from recognizing him--even though Jesus walks with us on our Emmaus road.
We, like the two disciples, May even have been talking with him without our realizing that it was Jesus! Indeed, as we journey through our lives--I wonder, how often do we remember that Jesus is right there with us all the time? We, like the two disciples, miss him when we wake up in the morning; when we mingle about, we fail to see or hear him speaking with us through the lives of others.
Sometimes, like the two disciples, our fears and doubts prevent us from fully understanding the scriptures. Yet, Christ's unwavering presence stays with us and leads us through every stage of our Emmaus road journey. No matter how hopeless, alone or abandoned or confused we may be--no matter how excruciating our pain or suffering may be; no matter how angry or hurt or helpless we may feel; Jesus refuses to give up on us.
Our risen Saviour has the deepest kind of love-longing for us. His love always seeks to be with us, behind us, beside us, above us, and ahead of us. He pursues us as a loving father or mother pursues their child. Then, one day, often much to our shock and amazement! He opens our eyes, our minds, our hearts, our lives, so that we too are able to see him. Our journey down Emmaus road leads us into a new-found joy, hope and confidence in Christ, in ourselves, in others.
As we reach this stage on our Emmaus road journey, we come face-to-face with the second favourite theme of Luke. For Luke, table companionship, eating a meal with others opens people's lives to the presence of the risen Christ. Some scholars like to argue about whether or not this meal Jesus shared with these two disciples was the sacrament of Holy Communion. That's not the point! What Luke is trying to tell us is that whenever or wherever we share a meal with others there is a sacramental aspect to the meal because Jesus is present.
As theologian Jurgen Moltmann has observed: "When, in the worship service of the Latin American base communities, the names of the dead, of the disappeared, and of the martyrs are called, then the whole congregation shouts, "Presente!" They are present in the communion of Christ."
So, too, Jesus is present even though we do not see him. "in the breaking of the bread" whenever and wherever we lovingly share it with others. To make us more aware of this--perhaps we might consider the custom of some Christians who, at every meal, set an additional place for Jesus the unseen, yet present guest of honour at every meal.
Right now, here, in this place, we gather together as a resurrection community of Christ. We too, like the disciples at Emmaus, share in the breaking of the bread. Indeed, it is in the breaking of this bread which makes us a community and keeps us as a community. Sharing in our Lord's Meal is what unites us; makes us one; gives us one will and purpose.
The bread is the Bread of Christ, the Bread of Life for us all. As we share it with each other in our community of faith; may we be empowered, cleansed, healed and inspired to go out and share our bread with others in the world. For, in sharing our bread with others, we share it with Christ himself, who is always present in, with, under, through the sharing. For it is in sharing Christ, the Bread of Life, who gives us our true identity as a Christian community--who gives us the gifts of resurrection joy and hope; in order that we can be Christ's hands and feet, his Body, his Presence in a broken, hurting, troubled world.
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