Easter People – Easter Promise Week 2
Rev. Leta Arndt Behrens
Sermon Scripture: LUKE 24:13-35
13Now on that same day [when Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene,] two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Read the Sermon Here:
Last Sunday Pastor Michael told us a story about the Kutia Shaka–the monster of doubt that grew in power as long it was not spoken about. This monster of doubt’s power was broken and revealed as nothing as soon as it was named, as soon as it was not in the dark and brought out into the light. It is a story about how all and any of those things we keep hidden–grief, mental illness, physical illness, gender identity, feelings of loss, love and forbidden thoughts–can become the Kutia Shaka, the monster that overtakes our perspective, over takes our reality, over takes our spiritual selves and our ability to see much less walk in the light of Jesus that we are promised.
This place of naming is where we find the disciples of Jesus in our gospel today. Cleopas and another follower of Jesus that remains un-named have heard the news from Mary and the women who found the tomb empty and now they are making the 7 mile walk to Emmaus to go and be with the other, including the 11 lead disciples and as they are walking they are naming—naming their bewilderment, naming their questions. They say we had hoped…
… We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel
… We had hoped he would stay with us
… We had hoped he would continue healing and praying and teaching
…. We had hoped to know more and be more and to follow
When we allow ourselves to go there, we can get the naming and hoping too.
…. We had hoped there was a cure
…. We had hoped she would beat the addiction
…. We had hoped he would get counseling
…. We had hoped their marriage would last
…. We had hoped for children
… We had hoped for peace and restoration in our city, or country or nation
On this part of the road, the disciples are right there in the middle of the chaos of all the ‘we had hopeds” Chaos comes in many different ways. Mary was in such a chaos of grief at the tomb, worried and scared about where Jesus body had been taken that she did not recognize him when he arrived but only saw when he spoke. Thomas was in the chaos of bewilderment, fear, doubt that he did not see Jesus until he felt his body. And these disciples are in the chaos of spinning mind, questions, how to tell the others and what to do now with the unbelievable truth of the resurrection.
We know chaos too. Chaos comes in the hectic busyness of our days, our plans, our hopes. Chaos comes in our grief and in our struggles. Chaos comes in our questions and our spinning minds. And so we also have the ability to not see, to miss Jesus right alongside us.
But that is where he is. There are times Jesus sits with us in our tears and times that he meets us on the road and times that he pushes us forward and times that he gives us a big old shove out of ourselves and into the world.
In this story Jesus comes alongside these followers. He joins their conversation and falls in step with their pace. He hears their stories and their hopes and chaos. As Jesus walks alongside them he gives them the space to name their story, to process their feelings and thoughts and to keep walking on that road that is leading them forward. I think sometimes our children can name this need better than we can. My nephew this week, he is 2, woke up from an ill -timed nap as he mother came home from work. He woke up crying and crying; his mother and I trying every thing imaginable to comfort him—a new blanket, milk, the dinner he had been eating and his mom said, ‘oh honey just tell me what you want so I can make you feel better. “ and he answer “ I want to cry… !” So she sat alongside him and said ok, I suppose you can cry and I will just hold you while you do. Little Greyson and his mama, like Jesus, knows that hurry does not help a wounded spirit.
See just having eyes opened from whatever nap we have been taking, does not mean we know where to look or how to move or which way to go. Naming cannot happen just once or by one person. The monsters must continue to be talked about. racism, misogny, sexual discrimination, human trafficking, violence, war, depression, anxiety, religious persecution—none of these go away or get better or have the opportunity for healing stories without those who continue to walk the road, continue to call it out, listen to their had hopes and fall into step with others, standing the midst with Jesus.
When these two followers reach their destination, they welcome him into their place for a meal. It is at this meal, what we now practice weekly in communion that they have their eyes completely opened and they know that they have taken one step further on this road and one step deeper into their following of God. They recognize the warmth they felt in their hearts as God the spirit and they begin to know on another level, a body-mind-spirit level. I mentioned that there were two followers on this road, one who was named Cleopas and one who’s name we are not told. What if that person is not named on purpose because that other follower is you; a place for you to find yourself in this story. What if that third person had your had hoped, your chaos, your twirling mind, your experience of faith and doubt and touch, sound, sight and reason. Imagine that Jesus joins you on this road… on your walk through your neighborhood, on your drive to work or school or church or home and imagine that as you share your stories with a friend, loved one, or trusted stranger or you listen, fall in step with another, that Jesus comes into this moments right alongside you. These are the moments were we can let our hearts be warmed and our minds be cleared to just be. As we walk this road of faith these are easter moments filled with promise and alleluias that are as deep as our sighs and as high as our eyes can see.
Last week the children learned a breath prayer with the word Alleluia and I hope you realize that alleluia prayer is not just for children. Like the butterflies we talked about in our children’s sermon today, change, metamorphosis is slow and takes time and takes air and breath and life moving us forward to embrace the goodness of God that is in each of us, that we were created in this goodness of God’s image. This kind of road walking and deepening and coming out of our chaos takes not just time, but space and breath.
In order for us to experience this and practice it, I am going to play a song for you called Just Breath by Jason Diaz. You will notice that this song has moment of fast pace words and beat and then a chorus of slowing down and breath. I invite you that as the fast pace of the words go by to hear them and let your thoughts go their own way into your own experience of chaos. And then when the music slows down and the words tell you to breath, pull those thoughts back and let your spirit be still for a moment.
Play Song— Johnny Diaz Just Breath
Let’s end together breathing in and out the prayer of Allelulia