Monday, May 1, 2017

Me, Cleopas, and Jesus

Luke 24 13-35

Two people walking along the road to Emmaus
one of them is named Cleopas.
It’s three days after Jesus crucifixion.
They meet a man they don’t recognize
who doesn’t seem to know about the events of Jesus.
So they tell him about him.
Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty
in deed and word before God and all the people, 20
and our chief priests and leaders handed him over
to be condemned to death and crucified him.”

Then they add,
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
“We had hoped.”
They don’t just say that they hoped.
They had hoped.
The hope is in the past.
It’s almost as if they’re saying,
“Remember when we had hoped”
That was then and it was great,
 but even the hoping is over now.

The two people on the road, one who was named Cleopas
had hoped that Jesus was the one to save them.
The one to make some changes, to set the world on fire,
to create justice and make things new.
Emmaus, Arcabas
We had hoped.
But then he was killed by the establishment,
like so many other prophets are
and our hope died with him.
It is in that state, 
that absence of hope once felt
that the Jesus comes 
up to the two people on the road.
Right where they are.
They share their 
disappointments with each other.
They talk about their unrealized hope
and share their broken hearts.

Most of us can probably relate to the two people on the road that day.
We understand completely the experience of the imperfect tense.
We understand having “had hoped”

We’ve all experienced the heart break of “had hoped”
we had hoped that this time he would have stayed sober
We had hoped that this job would have worked out
We had hoped that the laws would have changed by now
We had hoped there would be signs of peace,
we had hoped that the pain would go away
We had hoped there would be less poverty and suffering,
We had hope that Justice would prevail
We had hoped that things would have gotten better by now.

As human beings in this world, we live with this “had hoped” feeling
We get excited about the prospect of things,
the promise, the dream, and time passes,
we’re disappointed and reality hits us.
It’s never as good as it was in our vision.
Remember how we had hoped,
now we can only remember the hope that we had.

On the Emmaus road and in our lives,
this is where Jesus enters in.

The story of the Emmaus Road is a story about us,
a model of Christian community.
How we gather together as Christians.

We are all travelling on a road,
and we meet one another and
we join together in community,
to travel together.
We are the two traveling on the road.
We meet one another and tell our stories,
We welcome our broken hearts,
We share our joys and our disappointments with each other,
Those “We had hoped” moments.

And most of the time we don’t recognize Jesus
when we see him, in friends in strangers,
In those we welcome,
in those we help and  those who help us.

But when we gather, the scriptures are read
We read about other people that had hoped and  lost hope
and how God was still there with them and they had hope again.
We understand about God’s promises
and find that suffering and setbacks are part of
a full and meaningful life.
We make sense of Christ’s life and death and
help each other understand how we all fit in that picture
and after a time, our hope returns to us.

And finally, at the end of our time together,
Christ’s presence with us and for us is revealed to us
at the table, when we share the bread and wine,
in the breaking of the bread.
We finally recognize Jesus when we share
love with one another, and when we sacrifice for one another
We see God’s presence in Christ’s
body and blood broken and shed for us.

That moment of revelation is fleeting, but effective
and we realize, looking back at our whole journey,
that Christ has been with us the whole time.
Jesus has been there in the stranger and the friend.
Accompanying us, opening our hearts,
breaking bread with us.

And with that knowledge, we go out
to tell other people, that Christ is with us.
And God has not left us alone.
We don’t have to have “had hope” in the past.
We can have hope right now.

Two people, one of them is named Cleopas,
and the other one isn’t named at all.
I think Luke did that so that we can put our own
name in that empty space. Cleopas and me.
We walk down that Emmaus Road together.

We are the people of the road, the Way.
We are on a journey together.
A journey of joys and disappointments
of dreams demolished and then
our once-lost hope restored.
We are on that long journey.
And we whether we realize it at the moment or not,

Christ has been with us the whole time.

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