Tuesday, April 25, 2017

now you don't, now you see it

Lord of the gathering feast,
you walk with us
on the shadowed road:
burn our hearts 
with scripture’s open flame;
unveil our darkened eyes
as bread is torn and shared
and from the broken fragments
bless a people for yourself;
through Jesus Christ, the host of the world.

Our bible story for Sunday is “The Road to Emmaus” adventure that is told to have taken place the afternoon of Easter Day. The story is below (scroll down). One of several so-called “post-resurrection narratives,” it has no parallels and so is Luke’s own story. Scholars of the Jesus Seminar see that in casting Jesus’ disciples as too slow witted to see what’s right before their eyes, Luke somewhat echoes a primary agenda of Mark. There’s also Luke’s theme that Jesus’ entire life was destiny fulfilling biblical prophecy about this ultimate prophet of God. On a personal note, I somewhat resent that scholars who translated the NRSV consistently insist on rendering Χριστὸν as Messiah, a title of Jewish expectation rather than our Christian title Christ, but I do understand. I understand but I disagree. I don’t even like that the Jesus Seminar scholars have it Anointed One, it’s distracting, fussily, preciously so.

Anyway, the story. The risen Christ "appears here and there, to this one and that one as he will,"* first unrecognized until some sign is spotted - - here the breaking of the bread, which may reasonably indicate that Cleopas and the other disciple were present at the Last Supper, or perhaps at the Feeding of the Five Thousand (or maybe Luke wasn't bothered about slipping up with a "literary discrepancy"). Why is Jesus unrecognized? Maybe he no longer wears spectacles. Maybe he’s had his hair cut or is combing it on the other side, mirror-image-like. Maybe it’s like if I see you in Publix today and you say “Hi, Father Tom!” and I look nonplussed because I’ve never seen you except at church on Easter and Christmas, but I cover anyway, “Hi!! How are you?!! Great to see you!! How’s the family?” Or maybe he’s wearing what St. Paul calls “the spiritual body.” IDK.


Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
 They stood still, looking sad. Then 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?” He 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But 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. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and 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. Some 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.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

  • - - - - 
The opening collect above from Prayers for an Inclusive Church is a bit more elegant than the Lectionary collect for Easter 3:

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

* a line describing the Pooka from the movie Harvey starring Jimmy Stewart

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