By the Rev. Darren Miner
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of celebrating Eucharist with a group of Episcopal pilgrims at Emmaus, and I was asked to give an impromptu sermon. The temptation was to focus solely on the obvious eucharistic symbolism of the Gospel story. But I warned the congregation that if I did that, they would miss out on so much that can be learned from what preceded that illuminating meal.
For before the breaking of the bread that brought about the disciples’ epiphany, there was a journey, a seven-mile walk, in which, unbeknownst to the disciples, Jesus accompanies them on the way and proceeds to break open the scriptures. And there was a test. When they arrive at the disciples’ final destination, Jesus pretends to continue on his way; he is testing their hospitality, it would seem. The disciples pass the test with flying colors. Not only do they invite Jesus to dinner, but they ask him to bless and break the bread, an honor customarily reserved for the host. Having passed this little test, their eyes are finally opened, and they recognize Jesus.
Like those two disciples, we too are on a journey with Jesus. But there are some differences. We are not journeying to our home. We are journeying through a pandemic to an Emmaus that is uncharted and unknown. Like those two disciples, we too are being tested. But again there are some differences. For it is not our hospitality that is being tested, but our endurance and our very faith.
In normal times, we would be gathered together in church right now, and soon we would draw close to Jesus in the sacrament of Holy Communion, in the sharing of bread and wine made holy by our common prayer. But for a time, we cannot sup with the Risen Lord, and we are forced to journey on.
Even so, we are not bereft of Jesus’ presence. For just as Jesus accompanied his despairing disciples on their journey, so he accompanies us, even though we may not recognize his presence. And just as those disciples encountered the Risen Lord in the proclamation of Holy Scripture, so too do we encounter Jesus whenever the Good News is proclaimed, whether at a festal Easter Eucharist or at Morning Prayer by conference call.
And when at last our journey is over and we have arrived at our Emmaus, when we have passed the test of faith that has been given us, then we will once again offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving; then we will once again share in the sacred meal of bread and wine; then we will once again know the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
© 2020 by Darren Miner. All rights reserved. Used by permission.