How far is it to Emmaus?
Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Third Sunday in Easter
By Bill Cotton email@example.com
And when he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him. — Luke 24:30-31
This I believe is the strongest resurrection story. It is believable. It is about what people do when their hopes are crushed. Two people say, “It’s over. Let’s go home.” On the way home, it helps to talk about the tragic event of crucifixion, even with a stranger. We don’t know who these folks were except they had followed Jesus to the cross. We don’t really know where Emmaus is, only most folks at some time in their lives have walked that lonely road.
Has anyone escaped great and numbing disappointment? At that moment, we will reach out to any stranger who knows our pain. So, the mysterious stranger joins them on that dusty, stony road. He rehearses for them their history of faith. As they approach their home they beg for more—“Come eat with us”—and the stranger accepts the invitation.
This is a strange story. Eating together is usually reserved for folks who know each other. In my years working in human rights, I discovered just how selective we could be as to who will be invited to dinner.
I grew up on a cotton farm in Texas. Dinner time (noon) was a big deal for those who had been out in the heat picking cotton. Black field hands usually had a separate table and leftovers—but not in our house.
My mother was color blind. She simply made no distinctions regarding who deserved to be at the table. She understood those words as the stranger took bread and broke it; the risen Christ appeared to them and then vanished from their sight. Call it neighborliness, call it generosity—when the table is open to everyone, the risen Christ shares our bread.
We Methodists have this “open minds, open hearts, open doors” thing in our invitation. But certain strangers are not welcome, and the open door becomes a bit of a mockery. Can Easter faith simply take the locks away and welcome the stranger? Anyone for resurrectional existence—code name “neighborliness”? Christ is raised—the table is set—now don’t get fussy about who is invited to share!
Dear God, you who have created a rainbow people, give us a second sight that we might see people as you would have us see. Turn us away from seeking our own kind. In this Easter Season, make for us a new beginning as we walk the dusty road to Emmaus. Help us to know that strangers and the strange are witnesses to your amazing new world in which we will no longer judge each other by the color of skin, or sexual orientation. Let us just be your folks who have learned to set the table for any who will come. In the name of the Risen Stranger, we pray. Amen