The Third Sunday of Easter

Our Gospel reading for today is one of my favourite readings. It holds a special place in my heart, for at the end of my selection panel prior to my acceptance for training for ordination, the person in charge of our panel preached on this reading. He used pictures painted by a Benedictine nun – how I’d love to get hold of those pictures! Images, stories and music convey so many memories for me, as I suspect they do for most of us. The story of the Emmaus Road is uplifting. It begins with two travellers walking along a dusty road away from Jerusalem, away from the promised spiritual home of the Jews. Slowly, they begin to talk. I like to imagine the scene – the bleak trees, the rocky road, the heat, and sense their confusion following the events of what we call Good Friday and Jesus’ resurrection. Unknown to them, Jesus travels with them. There is no recognition on behalf of the travellers. He joins in their conversation. The travellers stop at a house to rest. Jesus makes as if to continue his journey but the travellers urge him to rest with them. Still his identity is unknown. They do not recognise him. As Jesus breaks bread with them, they begin to recognise who he is. And at that point, he vanishes from their sight. The story is our story. We are all travelling on a journey, and at times, we become aware of a shared journey, collectively, with our individual stories. The disciples invited Jesus into the house to rest. Now, perhaps more than ever in these times of ‘lock down’, we can invite Jesus into our homes, and into our hearts. We may not be able to share Holy Communion together during these days, but still we can recognise and welcome Jesus in love, sharing in some way what we have. I suspect, too, that along with the disciples, we also benefit from hindsight. They say, “Were not our hearts burning within us as we walked the road with him?” If we look back on our own lives we will find those moments, the experience of our hearts set on fire – a sense of longing or yearning perhaps, a recognition that we are walking with God and a restless longing for something we fail to articulate, for there are no words. Afterwards, the two disciples, refreshed, begin their walk back to Jerusalem, back towards their spiritual home. And – God willing – we too will be able to look towards our spiritual home, once we are allowed to reopen the church doors, to allow the light to flood into our beautiful building; we can celebrate together in music and words and action, we can experience again that sense of wonder, of awe, of our hearts burning within us. No longer a rocky road, but with trees in bloom, with more clarity and awareness, with more hope, and filled with thanks to our God. So yes, this Emmaus story is our story. Each one of us has our own individual story, and each one of us the chance to say to our friends, “The Lord is risen!” and to offer hope. These are strange and difficult times. For many of us we are still in our homes. Others are frantically busy at work. We can spread what hope we can, enjoy this glorious weather, ring a friend, or video call others. We will be back together in church someday, and how I look forward to seeing you all! Now more than ever we learn that the church is not just the building, it is the people who meet there week by week to be nourished and fed, ready to go out and serve. Jesus remains with us, despite the closure of the church doors. God bless. Anne
— Janet Taylor
Sun, 26 Apr 2020