April 26, 2020, Living In A New Reality: Recognizing Christ, by Pastor David Tatgenhorst

Luke 24: 13-35 That same day, two of the disciples were making their way to a village called Emmaus—which was about seven miles from Jerusalem— discussing all that had happened as they went. While they were discussing these things, Jesus approached and began to walk along with them, though they were kept from recognizing Jesus, who asked them, What are you two discussing as you go your way?” They stopped and looked sad. One of them, Cleopas by name, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened these past few days?” Jesus said to them, ”What things?” They said, “About Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people— how our chief priests and leaders delivered him up to be condemned to death and crucified him. We were hoping that he was the One who would set Israel free. Besides all this, today—the third day since these things happened— some women of our group have just brought us some astonishing news. They were at the tomb before dawn and didn’t find the body; they returned and informed us that they had seen a vision of angels, who declared that Jesus was alive. Some of our number went to the tomb and found it to be just as the women said, but didn’t find Jesus.

 
Then Jesus said to them, “What little sense you have! How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have announced! Didn’t the Messiah have to undergo all this to enter into glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted for them every passage of scripture which referred to the Messiah. By now they were near the village they were going to, and Jesus appeared to be going further. But they said eagerly, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening—the day is practically over..” So the savior went in and stayed with them. After sitting down with them to eat, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, who immediately vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Weren’t our hearts burning inside us as this one talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’ They got up immediately and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the Eleven and the rest of the company assembled.They were greeted with, “Christ has risen! It’s true! Jesus has appeared to Simon!” Then the travelers recounted what had happened on the road, and how they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

 

Can we take a moment to take a deep breath and listen to our heart as we think about what it would be like to meet Jesus on the road and recognize him in the breaking of bread? 

April 26, 2020  Living in a New Reality: Recognizing Christ St. Luke UMC

It’s been 5 or 6 weeks of restricting our movement. sheltering in place and worshipping online. As we prepare to turn the calendar on another month this week, I asked a few people to write articles for our newsletter. Both Lauren Nunnelee and Lisa Santomen-Hellberg gave me articles describing the unexpected blessings of living through this pandemic. I think some of us might miss this time after the virus is gone! Think about it, what will you miss from this time? What will you remember with some fondness when you remember living through this historic time?


Nobody wants the virus to keep going of course. This is the most severe health and economic crisis most us have faced or will face in our lives together. But we are facing it together. We are finding a deeper well of love and appreciation for each other than we knew was there. 


One of the things that I’m appreciating about this time at home with my wife is cooking for each other and going for long walks each afternoon and taking in this beautiful long and cool spring. The tulips seem to have been extra beautiful this year. And the trees are wonderful. 


Taking a walk is a good thing to do in the midst of a crisis. That’s what Jesus did after his crucifixion and resurrection, according to our reading for today. He takes a walk. And finds a couple disciples doing the same. Cleopas is the name of one of them. The other is unnamed. Some think it might have been his wife.

 
They are walking along kind of feeling gloomy and depressed after all that has happened. And then this stranger joins them on the walk. He asks what has them so down. They can’t believe he hasn’t heard the news about their leader who they thought was going to liberate them and set Israel free. Then they told him about the amazing news they had heard that day that some of the other disciples had been to the tomb and found it empty. 


Finally, Jesus interrupted them and started teaching them again all about what the liberation they were hoping for was really going to look like, what the scriptures really said about the Messiah. They came to Emmaus and Jesus made like he was going to keep going, but they found their manners and insisted to him that he come in and have a meal with them. When he broke bread with them, their eyes were opened and then they knew who it was.

In the same way that the disciples found God’s presence in Christ through taking a walk and breaking bread together, some of us are finding God’s presence during this crisis in healthy walks and renewing meals. Or in conversations and connections over the phone or over the computer. We are finding ways to be there for each other that we have not counted on before. At least not in the same way.


In our church, we are hoping, when we are able to worship in the sanctuary together again, to find ways that we will still be able to include people who are homebound and people who live at a distance. Why didn’t we make it happen before? 
In our world, we are finding that the earth is regenerating, resurrecting itself, as human pollution has stopped for a while. It reminds me about what they say happens to the human body when a person stops smoking cigarettes. It immediately starts to heal. God’s creations are marvelous and powerful in their capacity for healing and regeneration. What a gift on this week of Earth day to see how God’s creation reacts if it is allowed to breath without all the carbon dioxide we usually spew into the air. 

“In times of crisis, seemingly impossible ideas suddenly become possible,” says Naomi Klein. All of a sudden, our country finds 2 trillion dollars - and more - to use for keeping people afloat during the economic crisis. Things are all upside down and we are grasping for ideas. Milton Friedman, the economist, said at times like this people grab ideas that were lying around and put them in place.


The trick is to grab for ideas that are sensible and fair, designed to keep as many people as possible safe, secure, and healthy. There are plenty of ideas out there designed to further enrich the already unimaginably wealthy while leaving the most vulnerable further exposed. It makes a difference, especially at times like this, that we pray and work for sensible ideas to be the ones we use rather than those exploitative ideas that people in charge so often lean on. 


G.K. Chesterton — 'The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.’ Well, now would be a good time to try some of those ideals, rather than making the same old mistakes over again.


The Bible has a lot of ideas that have been lying around in plain sight for centuries, ideas that would be wonderful for a time of crisis like this. The Bible talks about release of the captives, which makes a lot of sense when jails and prisons are petrie dishes full of corona virus. 


Jesus declares release to the captives, sight to the blind, and a year of God’s favor for all who are oppressed, a time of Jubilee, when debts are forgiven and slates are wiped clean so everybody can have a fresh start. The time we are living in is a perfect time for ideas like that.


The Bible talks about welcoming the stranger with hospitality and kindness. In this passage that is how Cleopas and his companion finally recognize Jesus - when they welcome the stranger to their home and offer some food and some care. We are coming into a time when we too will find Jesus through our welcoming of the stranger and our hospitality for the sojourner. 

In the midst of death and crisis, God is about resurrection. In the midst of illness and disease, God is about new life. In the midst of despair and hardship, God is about new possibilities. We will recognize Jesus at the table with the strangers who show up in need. We will find the resurrected Christ as we work with each other to live out God’s gift of beloved community, welcoming and serving all God’s people and caring for all God’s creation.

Responsive hymn Emmaus-Bound on Easter Day


St Luke United Methodist Church

568 Montgomery Avenue (at Pennswood Road)

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

610 525-2396

www.Stlukebrynmawr.org

Sunday Service: 10 a.m.

Children's Celebration: 10:15 a.m.

Bible Study: Dates will be announced

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