Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sermon; Easter 3A; Luke 24:13-35

One the first day of the week, two of Jesus' followers were going to a village called Emmaus.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the details that we miss the overall point of the story. Sometimes we try so hard to make a story factual that we miss its Truth. For instance, there are people who try so very hard to make the six days of creation a factual reconstruction of six days that they miss the overarching Truth that God created.

Today's gospel story is similar in that there have been many people who have tried hard to find the factual location of Emmaus. Up until now that hasn't happened. No location for this town has ever been found. And of the suggested places, it seems to be a case of forcing an explanation in order to prove the factuality of the gospels. If we do that, we just might miss the Truth of the gospel.

I suppose at this point we could mimic Pilate and ask, “What is truth?” And we could have a whole discussion around not only truth, but are there variations of truth, are some things more true than others, and what is the difference between truth and fact. For instance, “God created,” is Truth; but the facts don't support the story that God created in six, literal, 24-hour days. There are many places in scripture we can do this.

As Christians we tend to focus on the New Testament, especially the gospels, when looking for truth. Virgin birth: fact or truth? Walking on water: fact or truth? Crucifixion: fact or truth? Resurrection: fact or truth? Some may be both. Some may point to only one. But as I read through scripture, both Old and New Testaments, I am coming to the conclusion that there is one overarching Truth, and that is this: God is with us.

God is with us in the garden.
God is with us in the impossible.
God is with us in our joys.
God is with us in our sufferings and sorrows.
God is with us in life.
God is with us in death.
And today's gospel story reminds us of this most basic Truth – God is with us.

Post-resurrection Jesus joins two disciples in the afternoon/early evening of the Day of Resurrection. They are walking to Emmaus – but that isn't the point of the story; which is why Emmaus has never been factually located. These two disciples, Luke says, were sad in the aftermath of the crucifixion and following the news that some women had seen angels proclaiming Jesus was alive. It's probably safe to say that Cleopas and the other disciple were both traumatized and confused. Like Mary Magdalene before them, it's no wonder they didn't recognize Jesus.

In this traumatized and confused state, in their sadness, God is with them.

During this walk Jesus asks what they've been discussing, and they say, “Have you not heard about the things that have happened these past few days?” Jesus, playing dumb, says, “What things?”

This reminds me of the time in the garden when Adam and Eve were hiding after eating the forbidden fruit. “Where are you?” asks God. God knows perfectly well where they are. Jesus knows perfectly well what they are talking about. But this is a good way to get them to tell the story.

In that telling of the story, God is with them.

While their story was factually correct, it missed the truth of the event. So Jesus fills them in on what they overlooked, getting them to see things in a new way.

In their learning, God is with them.

As they drew near to their destination Jesus continued on his way, but they invite this stranger to stay with them, for evening was at hand.

In their hospitality, God is with them.

What follows is the climax of the story. At the Last Supper Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body; do this in remembrance of me.” And here, on the first day of the week, the Day of Resurrection, we have an account of the very first celebration of Holy Communion.

The three of them gathered around a table for the evening meal. Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. It was in this act of taking, blessing, breaking, and giving that the disciples' eyes were opened. It was then that they recognized this stranger for who he was – Jesus Christ.

In the taking, blessing, breaking, and giving, God is with them.

Like Mary, their eyes were opened and Jesus disappears from their sight. They immediately run back to where the other disciples are staying to give them the good news. This is something that must be proclaimed. Upon their return they find the other disciples all abuzz because Jesus has appeared to Simon Peter. Cleopas and the other disciple share their good news about the living Christ and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

In their joy, God is with them.

This is the Truth of the gospel.
In our sorrows, God is with us.
In our hospitality, God is with us.
In our learning, God is with us.
In our joy, God is with us.
In the breaking of bread, God is with us.
In our proclamation of the Good News of the risen Christ to others, God is with us.

This is the Truth of the gospel and all of scripture: God is with us.

Let's not get so caught up in finding Emmaus that we miss that most basic Truth.



Lady Anne | 9:05 AM, May 01, 2017  

I always enjoy your sermons. Someday The Squire and I need to come visit your church.

We had a supply yesterday who went on for forty minutes - missed several opportunities to hop off the train, but just kept on. It's one thing when people look at their watches; it's another thing when they hold their watches to their ears to see if they're still working.

Reverend Ref + | 4:40 PM, May 01, 2017  

Ouch. And yes, you will have to make a trip over. I'd offer to supply at your place, but I've got a regular gig.

First time comments will be moderated.