How has Easter left you feeling? First looking into the blackness of Good Friday – then the celebrations of Easter Sunday and the resurrection. All of which has felt so very strange in these weeks of lockdown. ……………
Children off school for so long. Trying to find things for them to do, encouraging them to learn. The lack of clarity over what the future holds, the fear that everything will be different but without any idea what that might really mean. The concern for loved ones and the fear for one’s own health. Living together with family and finding that it is not easy to stay together is a relatively small space for such a long time. Wishing that rather than irritability and lack of sleep we were on good form for those we love.
On top of all that, are the regular things that have to be sustained, work for some, volunteering for others, dealing with chronic conditions which we’ve had for a long-time before Coronavirus came along. It’s been a chaotic time. There’s been enough of a cocktail of different things to leave us all exhausted, or confused.
In our Gospel reading two people are struggling to get on with their lives amid the confusion of that first few days after the first Easter. Good Friday’s sense of despair isolation and loneliness has been turned on its head by strange rumours of resurrection. People running backwards and forwards, rumour and counter-rumour, no one sure just what to believe.
And as they walk on the road to Emmaus, weary, sad and confused, perhaps we can feel some sympathy for them. As they trudge along they are trying between them to make some sense of what has happened. … And then we read these words. “While they were talking Jesus himself came near and went with them.”
And as the story unfolds and as their journey progresses we read that their hearts begin to burn within them as they listen to him talk. At first he is a stranger to them, they don’t recognise him, but then, just before he leaves them, they see him break bread and in an instant their eyes are opened and they see the risen Lord Jesus for who he is.
Some of us might recognise something of the story reflected in our own lives. We feel drawn to faith but at the same time it all seems a bit of a mystery. Then we are on the road with these two people. … Others of us might see the confusion and depression of the two travellers as part of our story, we too are on the road with them. … Some of us know the story of faith quite well, but the journey we’re on has become long and tedious and it is so hard to see the destination. We too are on the road with those two disciples.
Others of us are struggling with what is happening around us, the pace of change, Covid-19, the seeming lack of real direction, trouble in our relationships, vandalism on our estates, our fear which at times threatens to overwhelm us. Yes, we too are on that same road with those two people.
We can, if we choose to, bring everything that we experience, and with which we honestly struggle, to that journey, to that walk. Whether because we are in this together or because it is true for us as an individual – all of us in some way are on this journey with the two friends going to Emmaus.
In the midst of everything – before we are even sure who it is, there is someone walking along the road with us – a seeming stranger – if we knew the end of our story we’d know who it was – but now we cannot recognise him. As we talk together online, as we use social media or as we sit alone and quiet; as we pray with faith or as we struggle to believe. Jesus himself comes near and goes with us.
And as we continue on our journey of life, unsure what the future holds, even if we don’t recognise him, Jesus himself walks with us. And we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus not only as the unknown friend on the road – but as the one who welcomes us with nail torn hands into the warm embrace of God’s love. And in our shared faith, we take him in some mysterious unfathomable way into our lives and he becomes one with us in soul and body.
Take a few moments now in silence to imagine yourself walking on a journey. … See the stranger approach you and walk quietly alongside you on the road. … Walk with him, enjoy in your imagination talking to him as you walk. …
And as you go on with your life today say these words to him. “Lord, make yourself known to me in the mundane and the ordinary, speak to me and help me to listen to you.”