Adapted from a sermon
Delivered April 30, 2006
Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church
I John 3:1-7
On the Road Again
Good Morning. It is such a pleasure and honor to be in your pulpit this morning. Itís a long flight up here, but worth it. I'm on the road or in the air quite a bit with my work. So this morning's lesson about the disciples on the Road to Emmaus has always had a special message for me, and Iíd like to share it with you.
gospel lesson focuses on part of the familiar story of two disciples walking
we find two of these confused and doubting men sadly walking to Emmaus, a small
town outside of
one called Cleopas asks the stranger, "Are you the only person in
The stranger chastised them a bit, reminding them that the prophets had said that the one who would be the Messiah would suffer many things before "entering into his glory". The stranger continued to interpret the Scriptures for the two men.
When they got closer to the village, the stranger appeared to be ready to walk on and leave them. But the disciples invited him to come to the village and to share dinner with them. It was nearly evening; the stranger would need a place to stay. He agreed to join them.
During dinner, the stranger was treated as an honored guest. It was he who was asked to give the blessing, after which he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.
BAM! They remembered. They remembered the night before their leader had been arrested. Jesus had done the same thing - spoke the same words. Telling them that when they broke bread again in this fashion, they should remember him. And they did. They recognized their Risen Lord. At this point, the Risen Lord, the stranger, vanished from their midst.
for a moment, they sat quietly. As it all sank in, they jumped from the table,
and ran the seven miles back to
Our minds whirl. What does it all mean? How could they not have recognized Him? Why could they recognize Him after the breaking of the Bread? Is it still an "idle tale", or does the story have real meaning for us?
Some suspect that Jesus was testing the disciples. It was a three-part test. First, would they recognize Him right off? No, they failed here. Second, would they recognize that he, as a stranger, would need food and shelter? Yes, they passed this test. And third, given this hint, would they finally recognize him? And yes, with a gentle reminder at table, they remembered and recognized their Lord.
Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century saw this story is "a moral lesson concerning hospitality." When we meet and greet the stranger in our midst, and offer our hospitality, we are serving and recognizing the Risen Lord. It's a familiar theme in the Old Testament where God or God's messengers come as strangers. It matters how we treat these strangers, and, perhaps, how open we are to the message they bring us.
reminds me of a trip I made to
began to talk. And I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. She spoke of her
children moving to
This was a major shock for me. "Arlene" was a woman who had been like a second mother to me when I was a child. I loved her deeply. She was now gone, but talking to this woman in Chicago was like having a message from heaven telling me that Arlene still cared about me. What if I hadn't put down that newspaper and said "Hello?"
In another instance, I was checking
into a hotel in another town in another place.
I began talking to the clerk. I told him that I liked his town and was
thinking about retiring there. Itís
cold, you know, even in
young man looked at me aghast and said, "Well, not me. I'm quitting and
this young stranger kept talking, I began to wonder if the Lord was trying to
tell me something. Maybe
Today's story about the apostles on the Road to Emmaus gives us several ways in which we can grow in our understanding of the Lord and his will for our lives. The messages come in many ways.
Yes, sometimes unexpectedly through the ďstranger in our midstí, but also:
Our travels, our walks along our own Roads to Emmaus can be, and should be, an Adventure with God. Each year after the excitement of Holy Week and Easter, we pause for reflection and refreshment. But then again, We're On the Road Again Ė this time, remembering that we don't have to make the journey alone. Christ is always with us.
As Christians, we might join Willie Nelson when he sings:
On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life we love is makin' music with our friends.
Goin' places that we've never been
Seein' things that we may never see again,
We can't wait to get on the road again.