April 28, 2019 Easter 2 Year C -alternate “Walk to Emmaus” text
Grace and peace to you from our victorious and risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. It certainly was a celebration last week here at Greenford Lutheran over 130 faithful filled the pews swelled the ranks and joined in praising a risen savior. Today, not so much
The walk to Emmaus, continues the Easter season that focuses on that powerful first Easter. Two disciples who weren’t part of the 12 chosen but perhaps part of the 70 sent were trying to make heads or tails of what had happened. They were on their way out of town…and then headed back into the lion’s den because the news they had was too good to keep to themselves. They’d seen the resurrected Jesus!
What I always find amazing is that despite following him for many miles across the Judean countryside and Jerusalem streets perhaps listening to him from the early days three years ago, they couldn’t tell who he was. As Jesus walked with them, and conversed with them not just about current events but ancient scripture their hearts were and minds were stimulated out of depression into excitement. But they really, really didn’t know or recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them “Take and eat this is my body given for you.”
One of the early differences that outsiders could make out between Jews and Christians was Christians always wanted to worship by sharing communion. It even got the pejorative name “Love Feast” because when outsiders asked what’s so special about this meal that you have to do it every time you gather invariably the answer had some sort of love explanation: Jesus loved us so much he gave himself for us, God gave us this meal so we could show his great love to forgive our sins, this meal shows how we love one another, this meal is done in memory of Jesus who we love. Jesus commanded us to love one another and we show this love for each other by coming together for this meal.
Christianity has gotten away from communion being the central point of worship and that has its pros and cons. I personally would like to see communion offered every Sunday or at least every Sunday in the season of Easter but that’s a topic for another day. Suffice it to say communion has become for me a way to know I’ve been in the presence of God.
Those two discples on the way to Emmaus, knew scripture yet didn’t recognize Christ in their midst. They were studying scripture with Jesus himself teaching and while their hearts were on fire they still didn’t recognize Christ in their midst. It was only in the breaking of the bread.
Martin Luther once said you can’t get any closer to heaven than at the communion table” He meant that God has not promised to be present when we hug a tree, fish in a stream, relax at the beach, or stay home and worship at St. Mattress. But he has promised that where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them. God has promised his presence in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the wine in his name.
Why a meal? I think we all agree we get to know people better in the sharing of a meal than in planned meeting. That sense of revelation and identity that comes by being together sharing food can create a very strong bond. In fact there’s research that shows parents really should take time to share sit down meals with their kids. It’s hard for parents influence to compete with all the negative aspects and influences going on in our society, social media, music, video, electronic games. Yet the answer is relatively simple research shows that families that regularly eat together 3 meals a week have kids who are 80% more likely to NOT participate in risky negative behaviors like skipping school, doing drugs, joining gangs, and so forth.
The simplicity of a shared meal, belies its impact, its importance. Just as Jesus’ simple act of breaking the bread Amazingly opened the eyes of his followers to his presence our hearts can be opened to his presence today. AS a seminary prof once put it “scripture is informational, and worship is inspirational, but Christ’s sacraments are heavenly.” Meaning baptism and communion are those moments when God has promised to reveal himself, to bestow his gifts of love, forgiveness, life and salvation. All those gifts add up to heaven. A glimpse of heaven who doesn’t want that?
Luther also said “as surely as you tasted that bread, felt the wine going down your throat you surely have received Christ’s forgiveness and salvation!” Wow how many folks long for a sign from God? Do you love me? Can you forgive me? Am I still part of your family? And here it is theirs for the taking and yet they say, “No thanks!”
It’s too bad were not going to share communion today. Yet, maybe we can let this text help us to long for that taste of heaven, rather than “O my gosh there’s communion church is going to take forever!” Maybe we can let scripture let our hearts burn within us today and that be enough knowing next Sunday we’ll have the breaking of the bread and Christ’s presence among us.