I love the Emmaus story. It feels closer to my own conversion story than anything else in scripture, because I walked down the road with Jesus for a long time before I finally recognized him in my midst.
In Sunday's sermon, I talked about what we can learn about seeing God from this story. I suggested that we learn that we cannot see the Risen Jesus without accepting the cross — that God chose humility, suffering, and death as his way of demonstrating glory. If we cling to another way, we will not see him. But there is still more to learn from the Emmaus story.
We also learn that it is possible to read and know the scriptures without recognizing Jesus in them. For that, we need Jesus himself, the Living Word, to open up the words of scripture to us. This sounds like circular logic, and it kind of is, yet it's also simply true: scripture is a story that only makes sense from the inside, when we trust the object of our faith (Jesus) to illumine our faith. As we come to scripture, we can ask Jesus to open our eyes, open our ears, inflame our hearts, and reveal himself to us as the Word.
We also see that Jesus is recognized in the familiar pattern of word and sacrament — scripture and the breaking of bread — the pattern that the church's worship still follows. Each week, we return to Emmaus in our worship as we re-enact this pattern.
I particularly appreciate the familiarity and ordinariness of it all. Bread-breaking was something the disciples had seen Jesus do again and again, both around the table (most recently at the last supper) and in the wilderness when he'd fed 5000 needy people on the hillside. So often, Jesus reveals himself to us when we return to a place we have encountered him before (a memory, a passage of scripture, a spiritual practice, even a physical place), not in something flashy and new. If God feels concealed from your sight right now, perhaps you can spend some time contemplating where or when you last recognized him, and ask him to reveal himself to you there again.
There's a hymn version of Saint Patrick's Breastplate (a famous prayer attributed to Saint Patrick) that was running through my mind last week as I prepared the sermon. I share it with you as a prayer that we would recognize Christ wherever he shows up in our midst:
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Small groups have begun! But there's still plenty of time to sign up and join — you haven't missed anything! Learn more and sign up.
Join us this Saturday for another art project with Afghan women in Alexandria from 1-3pm. Sign up here.
Katie recently returned from Kigali, Rwanda, where she served as one of our diocese's delegates to GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference). Curious to know more about this gathering and what it all means? Please reach out to her!
This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday — looking forward to seeing you there and encountering Jesus together again in word and sacrament.