Strangers in Our Way

Strangers in Our Way

 

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Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

1   I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2   Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3   The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4   Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”

12  What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
13  I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14   I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15   Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
16  O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17  I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
18  I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19  in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

 

Rain, rain, go away… I’m glad to be with you all this morning…

 

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbor came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

 

It’s hard sometimes to notice help – It’s hard to see God close by.

 

Gospel Luke 24:13-35

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

Easter…We spend 40 days looking forward, but we rarely take the time to look back. The lectionary text keeps pulling us back to Easter morning. Mary wept, Thomas doubted, and in today’s passage, two disciples are on the road. It’s still Easter, and it’s still confusing.

In the Bible stories, nobody recognizes the resurrected Jesus…Mary missed him…the disciples missed him…Cleopas and his friend missed him…

Seven miles they walked. The two head out – on the road to Emmaus…they knew the way, but they were lost…Death is all around them, but they’ve heard rumors about resurrection.  Do they dare hope?

As we hear in today’s story, they’re not alone. A stranger comes and walks with them along the away from Jerusalem. A fellow traveler strikes up a conversation with them. What’s going on? Why are you sad?

“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know?”

…Walking and Talking… This stranger seems to know his scripture and explains…he walks them through the Word of God. It had to happen this way.

 

Think about the strangers in your midst…the strangers on the way… Do we see them? If we do, are they only IN our way… Are strangers a burden? What do we miss when we miss them?

What’s waiting for you in Emmaus? What are you hurrying from? To? What might you be missing along the way? Sometimes, we know what’s next…but we’re lost…

The “Christ Following” life is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Over and over again, Jesus is on his way to someplace else when someone climbs a tree to catch a glance of him, touches his robe seeking healing, or calls out for wholeness. People encounter Jesus along the road…and from today’s passage we see, Jesus meets the hurting along the way.

 

 

Jesus isn’t on his way to Emmaus – he is going to keep on walking to someplace else, but the two plead with him to remain, eat, and rest.

This is where we get our familiar communion liturgy… took bread, blessed it, and broke it. Then their eyes were open, and they recognized him. It was in that spirit of welcoming the stranger in to rest and eat that the resurrected Jesus is made known. More than that, we see that he was always there.

What do we do with this? I think we all want to see Jesus, but where do we look?

 

Matthew 25 – 31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

“Lord, lord…when did we see you hungry…”

The fear of the stranger often spreads like an untreated virus – gathering steam and dehumanizing whole swaths of people – xenophobia – they’re dangerous because they’re different.

‘ Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’
Hebrews 13:2

 

May we Welcome In…break bread together…hear the Divine blessing…even when eyes are closed, doors are locked, and hearts are broken.

The same faith that accepts the unexpected resurrection of Jesus…sees the unexpected appearance of Christ in the strangers among us.…

May we all see our resurrected Savior on the road, and may we have the grace to welcome Him in to our lives.

 

 

 

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