The story of the walk on Emmaus Road is one of my favourites. I confess that I had to write this sermon twice! I started telling the story like I always do – focusing on that first seven miles. The one where the two they talk non-stop about what’s happened. The lead up to Jesus’ death. Peter denying Jesus. The cross. The empty tomb. Mary’s bold proclamation that she has seen the Lord. How some of the disciples thought the women were telling an idle tale and Peter went to the tomb and found it just as the women said. There was no shortage of things to talk about. Then I moved on to them talking with Jesus and finally knowing him in the breaking of the bread!
But what I really wanted to talk about was that second seven miles back to Jerusalem. Do you ever wonder what it was like to fly as fast as their feet could carry them to Jerusalem? Their hearts burning from the joy of understanding. If they really thought about their walk to Jerusalem they would have realized it was anything but ordinary. It’s not that often a perfect stranger says, “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?” (Luke 24:26) And then goes on to teach you about all of the prophets starting with Moses.
It is only as they get to end of the day, when they are tired from the journey that they finally truly see Jesus as he takes an ordinary loaf of bread and breaks it. And just as they finally see Jesus, he vanishes. I don’t even think that they ate the bread before putting on their shoes and heading back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples the good news. Their hearts were burning. The joy. The wonder. The amazement. Did they ran all the way? Did they ever stop and wonder if they had imagined seeing Jesus as they broke he bread? Or maybe to reassure one another that they really did see Jesus. That journey back to Jerusalem is uncharted and without precedent. It colours outside the lines of what’s expected. People who die on crosses simply do not rise to life. It was amazing and unreal and exciting. When the two finally arrive, they proclaim boldly, “The Lord is risen indeed, and he as appeared to Simon!” Luke writes, “Then they told what happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35) That’s when the journey for the disciples really begins. How do the follow Jesus now?
For us here at Cochrane street we are also charting a new path and colouring outside the lines. You’ve never had a minster on Sabbatical and I’ve never been on sabbatical. I don’t know what it’s going to be like to not come to this place with all you wonderful people each week. I’m going to miss being part of this community that’s been an integral part of my life for the last 8 years. Added to that, I haven’t been in school for over 18 years so I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me. So I would ask for you to pray for me on this journey. And I for my part will pray for you on yours. I know that you will navigate the road ahead with dignity and grace, working together to lead services and support the work of your church council. I know that when it comes to celebrating the lives of your loved ones or you need care in hospital you are in excellent hands with Rev. Bruce.
Today marks the beginning a new journey for all of us as we each in our own way colour outside the lines. When I come back in May, we can share with one another the things we’ve learned on the way, we can share the struggles as well as the joys. The story of the two on the road to Emmaus is a resurrection story and we are an Easter people. So we trust that our God, who in Jesus gives us everything – love, grace, new life will guide us in the journey that lies ahead.
And we trust that with God’s grace and with God’s help, these next few months are going to fly by as you follow your journey and I mine. As we say in our creed, “We are not alone. We live in God’s world.” And when we find our courage waning, we can gather at the table, for gifts of bread and wine that reminds us that we meet Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Nourished, we find renewed energy to follow the one who invites us to colour outside the lines sharing love, hope, grace and new life with all those we meet along the way. We are not alone. We live in God’s world. Thanks be to God. Amen.