Sermons

Sun, May 04, 2014

Meeting Christ on the way

Series:Sermons
Duration:10 mins 54 secs

You know there are times when I just get cravings for pizza…

or for a good old-fashioned finger-bun––

the sort that has lots of sultanas or currants and coconut in the icing.

I usually get those sort of cravings when I’m feeling stressed…

sad or melancholic…

moody or fragile;

when things haven’t gone right or I have had a bad day;

when my self-esteem has taken a beating…

because I’ve done something wrong…

made a mistake…

or haven’t lived up to my own expectations or my own image of myself;

when my hopes and dreams lie in tatters around my feet.

I don’t always know why I’m feeling like that––

not at the time.

All I know is that I have an urge to eat pizza or a finger bun.

It’s often a subconscious, even instinctive reaction.

And I’m not really sure why I crave those particular things.

No doubt it stems from my early years.

Probably, we had those things as treats…

on special occasions.

So I associate them with happy times and feeling good.

Even now, eating them somehow makes me feel a little brighter…

a little more able to cope.

But you know…

when I’m feeling like that, I also get a craving to go shopping––

to spend some money…

to buy something for me––

a new shirt or a new kitchen gadget…

something that I may never end up wearing or using.

But, in a way, that doesn’t really matter…

because there’s something almost therapeutic in just doing it:

getting out of the house…

having a change of scene…

getting away from life and its problems…

doing something for me.

How do you cope when things go wrong:

when life delivers one of its hard knocks;

when you have had a bad day;

when you’re feeling sad, inadequate, or fragile;

when your hopes and dreams have been crushed?

 

At those times, we may need some space…

some time to ourselves…

some time to stop and think––

to try to make some sense of it all.

So we may go off to some special place––

a favourite café…

a church…

a beach…

or a hill top.

A place where we can get away from life.

A place that’s peaceful, re-creating, safe.

Sometimes that “place” isn’t physical.

It may be a particular image or dream to which we retreat.

For some people, that place may be an inner world to which they retreat––

even a make-believe world…

where they can pretend that if they can’t see the problem, it doesn’t exist…

like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.

For some, that place may be a memory to which they retreat––

a memory of good times…

of particular moments of joy and happiness…

when everything seemed right with the world.

 

The two disciples in our story from Luke’s Gospel were seeking such a place.

They were dejected and disillusioned.

For them, Jesus’ death was an abject tragedy.

Despite all of the warning signs, they hadn’t seen it coming––

they didn’t want to.

They had come to believe that he was the One––

the One who would put everything right.

They had begun to expect great things.

They had come to hope and to dream.

But now all of their hopes and dreams lay in tatters.

So it’s no wonder that they were feeling so dejected and disillusioned.

And these two had left the rest of the disciples behind.

They had also left Jerusalem behind––

with all of its painful memories.

They had left it all behind and gone for a walk––

seeking some space, some distance…

to try to make sense of what had happened.

So they headed for Emmaus––

a place where they could get away from it all…

a place where they could think.

 

But as they walk and talk…

I get the sense that they’re not making much progress;

that they’re just turning things over and over again.

Because that’s what we usually do under such circumstances.

When we’re feeling dejected, and disillusioned we tend to focus on the particular––

particular images that haunt our minds;

particular thoughts that keep churning in our heads.

We turn things over and over again––

blowing some things out of proportion;

struggling to bring some order to the confusion and mess;

struggling to connect the pieces;

struggling to make sense of the experience––

often, because we lose a sense of the “big picture”.

We’re not able to put it all into a broader context.

So we can’t begin to move on.

 

But then the risen Christ meets them…

and invites them to tell their story.

That, alone, can be helpful.

But Christ also begins the process of re-framing their experience––

placing what had happened into a broader context;

connecting them to a bigger picture—

to their history…

and to God’s action in the world.

Because when we’re feeling dejected and disillusioned, it’s easy to focus on ourselves…

to think that our experience is unique…

that no one else has been through this…

that no one could understand.

And it’s easy to get it out of perspective.

So the presence of the crucified and risen Christ is important.

He’s a reminder that God knows what it’s like to experience sadness…

disillusionment…

abandonment…

rejection…

pain…

grief…

and loss.

And he’s a reminder that God is able to transform those experiences…

restoring hope…

and bringing new life.

 

But there are two other significant things here.

First, the two dejected disciples invite this stranger in.

They offer hospitality.

If, in our pain, we turn in on ourselves…

perhaps healing begins by looking outward;

by turning to others;

by focusing on their needs.

Second, they experience Christ in the breaking of the bread.

Reconnecting with life––

putting things into perspective and finding healing and wholeness––

often requires a symbolic act…

a ritual act…

an act by which we let go of the past and embrace the future…

an act in which we remember and we give thanks.

 

So this story has been crafted by the author to remind us…

that the risen Christ can come to us on our road to Emmaus––

wherever that may be;

that the risen Christ can come to us when we’re feeling dejected and disillusioned…

struggling to understand and cope;

that the risen Christ can come to us…

here…

now…

around this table…

inviting us to put our experiences into perspective…

reminding us of God’s power to transform…

calling us let go of the past and to embrace the future…

and to take hold of new life…

through the simple and symbolic act of breaking bread. 

Powered by: truthengaged