A Stranger along the Road

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, April 26, 2020

By: David May, Rector

What’s next? When does this end?! What is life going to be like afterwards? We’re all asking these questions and I don’t think there’s one person who knows the answers. This uncertainty is taking a toll on people. One of the ways you can hear that is just how exhausted people feel. I think there are lots of reasons for this. But one of the primary ones is just the plain old stress everyone is feeling. We’re all making this up as we go along without quite knowing when we can find new patterns and a new normal that will begin to ease the stress of the uncertainty we’re all living in.

We’re exhausted because of the emotional ups and downs everyone is experiencing. By the way, if you think everyone is doing just fine except you – let me be the first to disabuse you of that! Everyone is doing the best they can, but everyone is feeling this – often deeply. There is grief and loss and fear in all of us. It’s hard not to project negatively into the future because of the uncertainty.

Which brings us to this luminous, strange, breath-taking reading we have from the gospel according to Luke this morning. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and read it now before you go any further with this reflection. The reading is Luke chapter 24 verses 13 through 35. It’s often called the Emmaus Road story and it tells another story from that first Easter Day. Two of Jesus’s disciples had left Jerusalem for the town of Emmaus about seven miles away. We don’t know why they were going to Emmaus. I’ve always sort of thought that they just needed to get out of town, get away. When Jesus was executed, everything that they had hoped for had been taken away. They had followed him and watched the world turn to love because of him. But now that was over. Grief and loss and fear were all piled on top of each other.

But along the way, something happened. A stranger met them. As they walked along together, they told him about all they had lost including the hope that God was changing the world through Jesus. Then the stranger reminds them that God’s story always means that love will sacrifice itself, pour itself out, to save God’s people. Which helped them to remember what they knew was true but thought they had lost.

Then we hear some of the most beloved words in all of Holy Scripture. When the two disciples reach their destination and the stranger seems to be walking on, they say, ‘Stay with us….’ He does and comes into their home, sits at the table, takes the bread and blesses and breaks it. They see that they are with the Lord. They know it is Jesus. And then, he is gone from them.

It is natural to be exhausted by the ‘chances and changes’ of this world we are in. It is natural to be exhausted by stress and worry and fear. It is natural to even lose hope, and just ‘get out of town’ if not physically then emotionally and spiritually. But we serve the One whose love for all of us has changed the world and who we will run into ‘on the way,’ in all those ways that we know when our hearts are kindled again with his Gospel. And when we say, ‘stay with us,’ he will.