The Road to Emmaus

Joining in on the Bible Blogging craze:

We don’t really know where Emmaus was. It may have been 7.5 miles from Jerusalem, or 19.5 miles. Neither of those distances is likely to have been traveled round-trip on foot on that first Easter day. Luke’s story is just that: a story. Luke is illustrating the experience of the complete Easter season. Cleopas could be any one of us; he does not appear in the other gospels and is not one of the twelve disciples called by Jesus. He is Every Person, and Emmaus is Any Place we go to process a difficult experience or to get away from the pressures of life. The suggestion is that Cleopas and his friend had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover and were in the city for the events surrounding the Crucifixion of Jesus. After observing the Sabbath, they are now headed away from the scenes of horror and distress. Luke’s story tells us that even when we are seeking escape from our pain, Jesus is on the road with us, if we will only recognize him.

This Resurrection story emphasizes his physical presence. Jesus walks with then and sits at table with them. He takes the bread and breaks it for them. He invites them to touch his hands and feet. And he eats with them. They experience his nearness. And it can be like that in our lives.

Every Tuesday morning I meet with four colleagues to discuss the texts for the upcoming week and contemplate how we might preach them. Each week, before we begin our study, we worship together. There are readings, and often silent prayer, occasionally music, but always we end with communion, with the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup. On a spring Tuesday soon after Easter, when it was my turn to bring the bread, we sat with the windows open; a sudden breeze lifted the fragrance of the bread and wafted it among us. Someone asked, “Is that rosemary?” Indeed, it was, rosemary, risen. Rosemary is for remembrance. But on that spring breeze, it was more than a remembrance of Jesus we experienced. The spirit of God was alive and moving among us.