The Road to Emmaus

One of my weekly duties at the Cathedral is taking a mid-day service on Wednesdays. I don’t preach all that often on Sundays, so am glad for the opportunity to keep my hand in it on Wednesdays.

Here is my reflection on the road to Emmaus story which was today’s reading for Wednesday in Holy Week.


My new testament prof. in seminary made the comment that the first Good Friday likely didn’t last just a day – but that it probably took months, and maybe even a year or more for the community to work through the devastation of that first Good Friday.

The point being, that in this story of the road to Emmaus, the two walking along were deeply hurting and devastated, especially in light of what they recount to Jesus of people going to the tomb and finding it empty and talking to Angels.

Their actions speak loudly – “Yeah, right.”

We don’t know why exactly they were going to Emmaus, but it is away from Jerusalem. Away from the hurt and pain of Jesus death and burial. Away from incredulous claims that seem too good to be true. Away from the Romans, and those who handed Jesus over to be crucified.

One might go so far as to say they were fleeing.

Interesting that as they are fleeing, it is apparently not uncommon enough that a stranger should approach them and talk to them, and then school them in scripture – challenging them on their understanding of what kind of a Messiah they were expecting. All like it is perfectly normal to meet a Rabbi on the road who can teach you about scripture and interpret it for you, and as they say opening the scripture up for them.

And then, after spending all that time with them, it is only after he breaks bread with them – after they share a meal with him that they recognize Jesus. Its not in the theology, its not in the scripture and learning about it, it is in the simple act of breaking bread – sharing a meal. Then with their hope  and faith restored, they go back to tell others, and share their experience.

God came to them in their time of sorrow and trouble and need, gave them hope, lifted their spirits, and then shared a meal with them, and then moved on to go and do the same for others.

In some ways, it feels like the history of the church – or maybe its just how I feel. Walking away from the place of pain because it is too much. along that path away God comes close, gives us words of encouragement, restores faith and hope, and then shares in a meal – and it is in midst of that meal that our eyes are opened, and we see God.

It is in the midst of those normal every day things that we do. We may not see it or realize it. We may not recognize God in that person that we are talking to. We may not hear God in what is being said to us. We may not think it is grand enough or holy enough. What are we expecting – a burning bush? A pillar of fire and smoke? Jesus, both before and after resurrection, came unassumingly, in humility and gentleness. No trumpets, no honour guard, no flash. He was just there.

The other reading for Eucharist today was from Acts – Peter and John go into the temple and meet a man who can’t walk begging at the Beautiful Gate, an entrance to the temple. Peter tells him they have no gold or silver, “but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”

Words….. just words. And yet in the story, the beggar stands up and walks. Healing. Just like the two who were walking away from Jerusalem. They were offered healing for their broken and hurting souls, and then they went back because the place of pain had been transformed, and was now a place of life. Words can be very powerful. Words…. just words.

I need to remind myself every day to just see and hear what is right in front of me – to see God in that, to hear God in that.




3 thoughts on “The Road to Emmaus

  1. Nice blog! Thanks for creating this resource.

    During the Easter Sunday service I too was reflecting on the power of words. It struck me as interesting that words of gratitude and praise are considered an offering to God. I’ve had a skeptical tendency to discount the moral value of words, because they’re so effortless to produce, and so often insincere; but words of truth and wisdom clearly have the power to transform human lives, and everything connected with them. I like the idea that God would value (sincere) words as well as actions.

  2. Thank you Martha. There is an old Irish parable of a priest travelling around, and he visits a family with a sick child. The father gets frustrated that all the priests prayers are, are nice words. So the priest yells and screams and tears a strip off the man. Then says – those words hurt and cut. Why if those kinds of words hurt and cut would you not believe that kind and gentle words of prayer can also heal?
    Interesting thoughts, and reminder of the power of words. Something that also came to mind with the story for acts.

  3. That’s a great story! The idea that language is a kind of spiritual currency is also pleasingly egalitarian. Those without money to give, or who are enslaved or imprisoned, can still use words to heal and create – even if they can only do so in their minds. A liberating thought!

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