Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This week's scriptures are Psalm 116 and Luke 24:13-49

The story from Luke 24 is often referred to as 'The Road to Emmaus' because of where this incident takes place. One of the interesting things is that no one seems to know where Emmaus was. Much like the 'holler' (or hollow if you prefer) in the mountains of Appalachia, it was probably a little village that was associated with a particular craft or family grouping...not even a dot on the map.

And the time? Well to you and me it was Easter evening. To Cleopas and his traveling companion (who was probably his wife....we'll talk about that on Sunday) it was three days after their friend had been tortured to death and the day they'd been told his grave had been robbed. They weren't looking for a resurrected Jesus; they were just trying to make it home safely and sharing their grief and troubled thoughts as they walked down the road. It was an ordinarily painful time in a troubled point in history. Another day in a world of political oppression and personal pain.

They weren't looking for Jesus. And they almost missed Him. It wasn't until the meal time, when he broke the bread and blessed it, that they recognized who he was. Then just as quickly...He was gone. We're told that they hotfooted it back to Jerusalem to tell the others.

But I want to point out three things that seem important to me. The first is that Jesus showed up in the middle of their sadness. God often comes to us in the times of our greatest distress. The second is that they invited this stranger into their home. They didn't know who he was; they only knew that night was coming and he needed to eat. Third, it was in this time of community and hospitality that Jesus became known to them.

The time when folks were most fearful of being arrested as Jesus' disciples, these two invite a stranger into their home for dinner. And in this act of risky hospitality they meet Jesus again. They are blessed with a visit from the risen Christ. Not because they're part of the important 'inner circle' of disciples. But because they shared their story, opened their home.

As we look at our lives personally and as a congregation; and especially as we explore our indentity in preparation to seek a new pastor; we might want to consider that it is in times of risky hospitality that we are most apt to encounter Jesus. This is the flip side to the "I was hungry and you feed me, naked and you clothed me..." passage. It says to us, "if you want to meet Jesus in the day to day, in the ordinary and unexpected places of your life...risky hospitality to strangers is the doorway to that experience."

We'll talk more on Sunday. Hope to see you then.


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