“We had hoped he was the one…” (Luke 24:21). Hope can drive you mad. Especially if what you build up in your mind turns out to be far different from the reality you get. When this happens, all you need is a shift in perspective in order to see more clearly again. Because life without hope is not living. Hope is the fuel that keeps our hearts running. We need to keep hope alive to keep living, but sometimes it needs a little resurrecting.
“The Road to Emmaus” is an Easter story that finds its way into our lives every so often, but I wonder if we can see ourselves in the story. Two disciples were on the seven-mile trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about the latest gossip concerning Jesus, just recently crucified. They were so concerned with their lack of understanding, their loss of hope, that they didn’t even recognize the resurrected Jesus when he shows up and starts walking with them. They tell him all they know, confessing that they had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel. In their mind all hope was lost. The Christ, if he had in fact come, had been killed.
Then Jesus calls them foolish and “slow of heart,” saying “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things…?” (Luke 24:26 NASB). Jesus then leads them in Bible study, taking them through all the places in scripture that confirm his identity as the Redeemer, and finally at last their eyes are opened as they break bread together.
This story has been brought into our lives through the song “Day of Arising” by Susan Palo Cherwien:
Day of arising, Christ on the roadway, unknown companion walks with his own. When they invite him, as fades the first day, and bread is broken, Christ is made known.
When we are walking, doubtful and dreading, blinded by sadness, slowness of heart, yet Christ walks with us, ever awaiting our invitation: Stay, do not part.
Lo, I am with you, Jesus has spoken. This is Christ's promise, this is Christ's sign: when the church gathers, when bread is broken, there Christ is with us in bread and wine.
Christ, our companion, hope for the journey, bread of compassion, open our eyes. Grant us your vision, set all hearts burning that all creation with you may rise.
Dean McIntyre explains the lyrics on the Methodist worship website:
Stanza one briefly recalls the events on the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24) where two unnamed disciples are walking, discussing the recent events that led to Jesus' crucifixion and the talk of his resurrection. He joins them on the walk. Upon reaching their destination and sitting down for a meal, Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave the bread, and in those actions, "Christ is made known."
Stanza two identifies us today with those unnamed disciples on the way o Emmaus. We also often go about our walk, filled with doubt, dread, and sadness; but Christ is ever with us, always waiting for our invitation to remain with us.
Stanza three proclaims that Christ is always with us "in bread and wine" when the church gathers.
Stanza four offers a prayer that Christ will remain with us, offering hope in our journey, opening our eyes, setting our hearts to burn for the redemption and resurrection of all creation.
So where are you with hope? I bet Christ is there, walking with you. Can you see him? Sometimes it takes a little Bible Study and a little rest and a little food to see clearly. May we learn to open our eyes. ~Justin