Thursday, April 16, 2009

EMMAUS DISCOVERIES

The stranger beside us on the road is the Christ with us at the table

RIGHT AFTER THE RESURRECTION. I've been reading what the Scriptures have to tell us about what happened immediately after the news of Jesus' resurrection. Or, initially, to some of the disciples, it was the perplexing case of an empty tomb and a missing body. These post-resurrection stories help me get a handle on how Jesus' followers reacted, responded, began to piece together what had actually happened, and started to assign meaning to it all.

STRANGER ON THE ROAD. Central in Luke's account (24:13-35) is the story of two disciples walking to Emmaus on Sunday after hearing the startling morning news. They are joined by a stranger who engages them in conversation about the day's news. As they excitedly tell him what they know, he points out its roots and intention from the Scriptures. But it isn't until the disciples extend hospitality to the stranger--offer him shelter for the night and food for his stomach--that he is revealed: the stranger is Jesus.

CHRIST AT THE TABLE. Imagine these disciples so full of anxiety and looking inward that they didn't recognize the very one they had spent their days with over the past several years. It isn't until they some into the dim light of the evening dinner table that they begin to see clearly. There are the hands that broke the bread of Passover a few nights before. There are the eyes that convey authenticity, truth. They now connect these to the voice that resonates with the love they knew in their hearts. The stranger on the road is, clearly, Christ himself at the table.

HOSPTIALITY AND GRACE. I love this story for its multi-dimensional way of conveying the conflicts and promises of the moment. And I love it for its enduring challenges to Jesus' followers, certainly to receive strangers and offer generous hospitality, but not just these. Over the next few days and posts, as I continue to live with this story, I want to share some fresh observations and insights I'm gleaning from it. As much as there is to garner from what happens with the stranger on the road, there is perhaps more to learn and apply from what happens at the Emmaus table. Stay tuned.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

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