by Linda McCraken
When I hear that word, it used to bring to mind the relationship of one person with another that is not necessarily a friendship or even someone who is intimate with another, but two people who are accompanying one another through a time period or on a journey. Since I came to Haywood Street Congregation, I think of being a companion in a totally new context though not far from my original thinking of fellow travelers through space and time.
Now being a companion is best represented to me by the story of three men on the road to Emmaus:
Two men discuss the loss of their Rabbi on Friday and the rumor that his grave was empty when the women went to prepare the body two days later. A third man who seems not to know what they are so excited about joins them. As they tell their fellow traveler about Jesus’ crucifixion, His empty tomb, their hope that He really is alive, and their devastation over His death on Friday, the third man explains to them the significance of what has happened through his understanding of Scripture. The men are so heartened by the conversation they want the man to join them for dinner at an inn and continue to share his thoughts. As they break bread together, they recognize the man is their Rabbi, Jesus. They are overjoyed, but even as they acknowledge who this man is, he disappears from their sight.
How is it that I feel this is what being a companion at Haywood is like?
In every broken body, in every creased and worn face, I see Jesus. Often He remains hidden until He says something kind, loving, generous, or thoughtful. Then though we are companions on this journey, I realize that Jesus is there in other people who are walking the same dusty road I am. He is more than hopeful for something I might expect. No, He is a revelation of what I’d never dream of being there. A man struggling with alcohol addiction, a woman wondering where she will spend the next cold night, and a child clamoring for attention open themselves to me and explain their truth. As we break bread together, I notice that their hands are familiar. I look into their eyes and there He is.
As Max Lucado says it so well, my “hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed. My hope is the zany, unpredictable God who loves to surprise me out of my socks and be there in the flesh to see my reaction.”