May 1, 2020
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road,
while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
I deeply miss being together for Eucharist – being physically gathered at God’s table with our prayers of petition and thanksgiving week after week, the sweet taste of bread and wine, sharing the meal unlike any other with friends and strangers alike. The recognition of this sacramental absence, present with me since the first suspension of public worship in mid-March, became all the more real to me last week as I sat with last week’s Gospel passage, a portion of scripture that is so fundamentally Eucharistic in orientation.
On the road to Emmaus that first Easter evening, the disciples meet an individual they believe to be a stranger, one who does not seem to know anything about the events that have taken place and so shaken the world in which they live. After proclaiming all that they have experienced, this seeming stranger interprets the scriptures to the disciples who travel along the road. Jesus, not yet known to these two disciples, helps them make sense of what they have seen and heard, through the lens of scripture.
Later in the evening, gathered around the table, they recognize the stranger as the risen Christ when the bread is broken; however, they also say, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Their hearts were opened by Jesus through the power of scripture.
In these days that find us separated from the Eucharistic table where bread is broken and shared, let us take heart in the good news this Easter story proclaims to us – Christ is made known to us in many ways, in every way.
Even when we cannot gather physically around the table in these days, we can be drawn together through the reading of scripture and through prayer. This does not, and indeed cannot, take the place of our Eucharistic assembly, but it can unite us with the risen Christ and one another, causing our hearts to burn within us, aflame with the good news of God’s abundant love. Our virtual assemblies of prayer and scripture can and will stir within us that deep and holy desire to receive Christ’s love sacramentally once again when, at long last, we are able to break the bread with one another around God's table.
Until then, dear friends, may our hearts burn within us, as they burned within the hearts of the disciples in days of old.
The Reverend Andrew J. Hege