- Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41
- Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
- 1 Peter 1:17-23
- Luke 24:13-25
The risen Christ is known in the sharing of the word and in the breaking of bread. This is the form of the Eucharist we celebrate each week: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. As with the disciples, each Sunday our hearts burn within us as the scriptures are proclaimed and Christ appears to us as bread broken and wine is poured. The story of Emmaus becomes the pattern of our worship each Sunday!
What are the movements and postures we hold when we are listening to the Word, or receiving the bread and wine? Usually, we sit during the readings. And for many, prayer is done in a kneeling position. If this is your practice and piety, try standing while receiving communion during the Easter season. It was the practice of the early Church to stand during all the prayers as well as receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a small way to proclaim that Christ’s resurrection has restored and lifted humanity to new life.
After the Lenten season of introspection, a more joyful, jubilant posture of prayer is appropriate to match our proclaiming of the resurrection with “Alleluia!”
Two pilgrims on the way to Emmaus find resurrection in the walking! Fatigued and depressed by the rapid-fire events of Passover Week, they are returning home for rest and regrouping. They had expected a different outcome than crucifixion. Even the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection are unsettling, far more than they can integrate into their experience at the moment. A third pilgrim joins them. Hidden from their recognition, they journey toward home with the Risen Jesus, not knowing that their own resurrection is as close as the next footstep. Still, engaged in conversation, they gain a new perspective on the events of Passover Week.
On the way to Emmaus, moving with Jesus, they discover a new world of possibility. Something is drawing them forward; something is drawing them toward new life, although they are not yet consciously of it. Along the pathway, God is constantly giving us visions and possibilities, guidance and inspiration, and occasionally we notice it. Like the well-known poem “Footprints,” divine guidance and protection often come when we are least aware of it.
Still locked in the prison-house of grief, the two men do something amazing. They reach out in hospitality, although their hearts are breaking, spirits flagging, and bodies worn. As Jesus prepares to walk on to his next destination, they invite him to supper. And, in this interplay of call and response, they know him in the breaking of the bread. But, like Mary of Magdala’s story, they also cannot hold on to the Jesus they knew. As soon as they recognize him, he vanishes from their sight. Mystical experiences come and go. Moments of assurance are fleeting. Inspiration is transitory. Health is temporary. But, God is in each detail, filling it with holiness and then moving on the next and inviting us to follow. Faithfulness is in the remembering but also in movements that create new memories and new possibilities. As the Emmaus story notes, hospitality is the open door to creative transformation and an expanded vision of possibilities.
“The initiative in encounter belongs to the Lord. But if we open the door of our being to him, we shall share his life, his supper.” Gustavo Gutierrez in We Drink from Our Own Wells (1984: Orbis)
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion on the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. (BCP 124)
- How do you feel the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and in other ways in your own life?
- In the Epistle reading (1 Peter 1:17-23), what is expected of those who belong to the new community of believers in Christ? How do we carry out these responsibilities today?