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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part V

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Helge Boe: On the Road to Emmaus

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

We journey toward our Easter resurrection, carrying our doubts and fears, measuring, and even judging, ourselves and those who walk with us. We hope to avoid obstacles, not realizing that they provide us with opportunities for transformation. We see ourselves in a race against time, not understanding that God’s time is eternal. We perceive ourselves as small entities in competition with the billions of earth’s citizens, not comprehending that we are all the living stones of the temple that is God’s kingdom.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

A humble yet confident, vulnerable yet strong young man joins us on our journey. He speaks words that both comfort and challenge. He listens well. Asks thoughtful questions. We can feel the compassion and empathy coming from his eyes; his whole body exudes an essence we want to capture so that we might carry it along with us. Yet we need not. We try to possess what we already own. We try to control what we are already promised.

This man’s words are wisdom. His actions are mercy. He embodies hope, he enacts fidelity, he is love. Do we invite him to linger with us, or are we too busy tending to our pains and worries, monitoring our timelines and space?

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

Hendrick Terbrugghen: Supper at Emmaus

Christ walks with us today as surely as he walked with these disciples in the journey to Emmaus. He breaks bread with us today just as he did at the supper table in Emmaus. Let us set aside the time and space to share our uncertainties with him. Let us dedicate the time and place to share our joy. And let us allow The Teacher to open our hearts to the enormity of God’s love and promise as we journey toward the Easter promise.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

For more on the Emmaus experience, click on the image of the Boe painting, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part IV

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We might imagine ourselves discovering Christ just as we break bread with him. We might imagine his disappearance as a disappointment or as an opportunity to share the joy of Good News with others. Our reaction to Christ’s presence brings us great fear, great sorrow, great joy, or a mixture of many emotions. How do we write our own story?

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus. Mosaic (6th Century mosaic)

They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

God says: You may find this story difficult to believe. You will want assurance that you would not miss my presence among you; yet you need not be afraid. I am not angered that you overlook me, gaze past me, and cringe away from me when I appear as the homeless, the hungry, the refugee, and the poor. When you suffer embarrassment, all you need do is turn to me with a vulnerable heart. When you are uncomfortable each time I come to you as the marginalized, all you need do is open your arms to me. When you are angry with circumstances you cannot control, ask for my guidance and protection. I have the strength and persistence, the love and fidelity, the hope and energy to be with you through every moment of your suffering. Give me your anxiety and fear. Come away and break bread with me. All the rest is nothing. I am all. And I am enough in this day and in all days.

Diego Velázquez: The Supper at Emmaus

When we spend time reflecting on this story, and when we admit the number of times our anger or discomfort have gotten the best of us, we realize that we, like the Emmaus disciples, have the opportunity to break bread with Christ himself.

 

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part II

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pieter Coecke van Aelst: Christ and His Disciples on Their Way to Emmaus

Yesterday we spent time with the story of the disciples who encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Today we imagine the possibilities in our lives if every time we come up against an obstacle we might recognize Christ’s presence and invite him to linger.

In an intense flash, at the breaking of the bread, we suddenly become fully aware of the identity of our companion.  We abruptly comprehend why we have felt so light and happy as we journey to Emmaus.  We realize that the hopes we have put away may be taken back out.  The faith we have placed in God’s plan is still valid.  The love we wish to share is still viable.  The Teacher has not lied to us in some silly attempt to ease the pain of our days.  The Teacher has offered – still offers – an opportunity of intimacy with him previously unknown to humankind.  And we disciples who have left Jerusalem in fear and sadness . . . now retrace our steps to return to the crucible of conflict which our Way of living brings us.  We are transformed.  We no longer allow fear overcome courage.  We do what Paul urges all of us to do – and we heard this yesterday – we put on Christ, the only protection we need.

We notice that Jesus leaves when the disciples recognize him, but his Spirit remains. And Jesus expects that now we will be his hands, his feet, his teaching.  We are Emmaus People . . .

A Favorite from March 31, 2009.

 

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Psalm 18:22-23: Cornerstone – Part II

Thursday, March 2, 2017shall-become-the-cornerstone

When we fear that our world is too ugly, too violent, too deceitful and cruel, we must remember the inversion the ancients understood.

The stone which the builders rejected as worthless
    turned out to be the most important of all.

This was done by the Lord;
    what a wonderful sight it is! (GNT)

When we are defeated, turned away, rejected or abandoned, we must remember to rely on the Creator for sustaining the life we have been gifted.

The very rock that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone!

This has come from Adonai,
and in our eyes it is amazing. (CJB)

When we lose hope, feel lifeless, have no energy to struggle back from loss, we must remember to trust the Holy Spirit who heals, guides and abides.

Thank you for responding to me;
    you’ve truly become my salvation!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed
    is now the capstone!
This is God’s work. (MSG)

When frustration overcomes us, anxiety freezes us, or fear seizes us when we see cataclysm looming, we must remember to call on God, the Creator of all.

When we reflect on Psalm 118 we find a prayer for thanksgiving in victory; and we discover that our defeats are the cornerstones of new life. 

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Deuteronomy 31:12-13: The Aliens Among Us

Saturday, February 25, 2017refugees-have-no-choice

Moses says: Call together all the men, women, and children, and the foreigners who live in your towns, so that everyone may hear [the Law] and learn to honor the Lord your God . . .

God says: Do you notice that I do not ask you to lock the foreigner away from you? Do you understand that I myself am a stranger in a strange land when I walk among you in the person of Jesus? Do you believe that you exclude my Spirit when you build walls and sow hatred? Do you see that it is you who are the alien when you shut yourselves away from others whom I have created?

Our newsfeeds bring stories that can stir both fear and compassion. Our hearts read these verses and nudge us to live in God’s Law of Love. Our spirits weave together as one in God’s great heart.  Moses’ words call us in our own millennium.

 Assemble the people—men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns . . .

When we hear the word of the Lord, let us determine to remain open to the aliens among us.

When we read other versions of these verses, we open our hearts to understand the plight of the refugee and alien. Can we predict which cultures or countries take in those who flees oppression? For Figures at a Glance from the UN Refugee Agency that tell the story of who is displaced and who shelters the aliens, visit: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html 

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James 2:12-13: Law of Freedom

Saturday, February 18, 201750623-freedom

Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment. (GNT)

Today’s Noontime reflection asks us to explore our own actions to determine how – or if – our words and actions nurture freedom or project fear.

Keep speaking and acting like people who will be judged by a Torah which gives freedom. For judgment will be without mercy toward one who doesn’t show mercy; but mercy wins out over judgment. (CJB)

How well – or how poorly – do we share power with others?

How easily – or how nervously – do we welcome collegiality?

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (NRSV)

How happily – or how begrudgingly – do we open ourselves to new ideas or new relationships?

How trustingly – or how obsessively – do we construct bridges with our enemies?

For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. (MSG)

What does freedom look like in our daily interactions?

How authentically – or how deceptively – do we nurture freedom in others and in ourselves?

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1622gerard_van_honthorst-dec-31

Gerard Van Honthurst: Adoration of the Shepherds

Matthew: Do Not Fear – Part VI

Christmas Saturday, New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2016

Jesus prepares his followers for his own exodus from the mortal life to the eternal. After taking Peter, James and John up the mountain to witness his own transfiguration, he tells them words that engender hope, the words he always tells us: Do not be afraid.

And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” (Matthew 17:7)

Jesus feels compassion for the women who tend to him so faithfully. Knowing that their fidelity is an exemplar to all of us, Jesus says the words he says to all of us: Do not be afraid.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. (Matthew 28:5)

Jesus feels deep love for those who want to follow him, knowing that their journey will be difficult. To them and to us Jesus lovingly says: Do not be afraid.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to my brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)

Years after Jesus tells those closest to him that he wants to bring unity out of division, he tells each of us that he wants to erase all fear and division. Jesus tells all of creation that fidelity helps us to see how love converts all harm to good, hope sustains all life through turmoil, and love brings all light from darkness.

Today we might ask, “How can we bring faith, hope and love into our lives every day as we are poised to begin a new year?”

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the many ways God says to us, “Do not be afraid. I live within you always”.

 

 

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Jeremiah: Do Not Fear – Part IV

Michael Dudash: Birth of the King

Michael Dudash: Birth of the King

Christmas Thursday, December 29, 2016

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we need not be afraid even in the long and wearying times of violence and war.

“Do not be afraid of [the nations], for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)

“For behold, I will save you from afar and your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease, and no one will make him afraid”. (Jeremiah 30:10)

“Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing; do not be afraid of him,” declares the Lord, “for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand”. (Jeremiah 42:11)

“Now so that your heart does not grow faint, and you are not afraid at the report that will be heard in the land – for the report will come one year, and after that another report in another year, and violence will be in the land with ruler against ruler”. (Jeremiah 51:46)

Centuries after Jeremiah gives us these words, God continues to be our deliverer, our savior, and our ruler against the kings and powers that threaten our very existence. God tells us, through Jeremiah, that we cannot fear the atrocities we witness and we cannot cower in the face of annihilating forces that wipe out peoples and cultures for God continues to walk and live among us. The child Jesus is the new ruler who governs us for more than an earthly time of war. The child Jesus invites us into a new, inverted, eternal kingdom where the marginalized are the center of the universe.

Today we might ask, “Where do we put the fear that takes hold of us when we witness chaos and carnage? How do we calm our anxiety when we experience outrageous acts against nature and the peoples created by God? When we listen to the voice of Jeremiah, we find that our fears dwindle, and we remember that God’s promise is already with us leading, guiding, saving.

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the many ways God says to us, “Do not fear. I am here with you always”.

 

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Romans 5:1-8: Throw Open the Doors

Thursday, December 1, 2016lock-heart

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with him, make us fit for him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (MSG)

If only we might look at faith as our willingness to throw open the doors of our heart. In this way we convert doubt to steadfastness.

If only me might persist I loving our enemies to see that God loves each and all. In this way we convert walls to bridges.

If only we might relax into God’s love long enough to understand that God already lives in our hearts. In this way we convert fear to grace.

If only we might perceive God’s grace and stand tall to shout out God’s glory. In this way we convert hatred to love.

God says: When you fear the wide open spaces of my grace and glory, I become a small, petty god in your eyes. It is no wonder that you do not trust me. When you reject my love to replace it with fear, I become a mean, manipulating god who preys on brave hearts. It is no wonder you discard me. When you open your hearts, when you persist in loving your enemies, when you allow my strength to bolster you and to carry your woes, I become the enormous, infinite Living God who is loving all harm into good, all evil into love. Remain in me, no matter your circumstances.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, today we give all fear, anger and doubt to you. We pledge to throw open the doors of our hearts to your presence, and to resist closing them again to your love. Amen.

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