“They stood still, looking sad.”
-Luke 24: 17b, NRSV
Can you see this in a film comedy scene? On the road to Emmaus, Cleopas and partner morosely ignore their hearts’ desire, who is standing there with a bemused look on his face.
Jesus (twinkle in his eye, serious look): “What’s happening?”
Cleopas (sad and serious): “Are you kidding me?
Everybody knows what’s been going on!”
It’s funny because they act like they know what’s going on when we know that they don’t. It’s funny because we know something they ought to. Don’t you want to poke them, “open your eyes, silly people!” It’s funny because this pair is a stark contrast to the two who, in the previous scene, brought glowingly good news to the women at the tomb.”
If I were directing this scene on stage, I’d costume Cleopas and his companion in banners naming what might be hoodwinking them.
“Assumptions about reality”
“Distrusting emotional people to be truthful”
“Reluctance to trust evidence”
“Afraid to hope.”
What would you add?
I’ve heard it suggested that the other traveler was Cleopas’ wife. Whoever they were and whatever their relationship was, it’s clear they had the comfort and certainty of familiarity, perhaps too much familiarity. They know the story but they’re boxed in by what they expect to be true. They don’t trust what they have not seen (even though he’s standing right next to them.)
But Cleopas and his partner trust the stranger enough to pour their hearts out to him. Jesus doesn’t exactly respond with the sympathetic pastoral care we might expect. Instead, he makes his expectations clear.
Come on, men! Why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along? (The Voice)
The light will dawn in the next scene, when bread is broken, when hearts are illuminated and eyes opened.
The resurrection is amazing because Jesus chooses to come back to us, not because of the mechanics of how God made it happen.
Jesus sees us tongue tied, astounded tomb watchers.
Jesus sees us sad looking know–it-all’s walking along.
Jesus sees us broken hearted questioners.
Jesus sees us accusers.
Jesus sees us defenders.
Jesus sees us as beloved
and Jesus comes back.
He is risen! So why is it still second nature to stand and look sad?
He is risen! And is working the yeasty stuff of God’s reign into we who are as dry flour made from broken seeds of promise.
He is risen! And reminding us that the Holy Spirit’s anointing is on the way, oil to soften and bind.
This is our scene, here and now. Let’s rise, not only to our individual better selves, but to the body with Christ as sacred center. Let’s talk with our walking partners and open our eyes to the joyful message of life Christ offers.
In God’s Grace, Karen
Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. -1 Peter 1: 21-23 NRSV
Above our kitchen sink “lives” an Albert Einstein bobble head. No matter what I ask him, he always nods, “yes.” It’s very encouraging, especially first thing in the morning. Perhaps Mary Magdalene felt this magnified a thousand-fold when Jesus, resurrected, appeared before her proclaiming “yes,” with his very being. Yes, to life. Yes, to love. Yes, to what is to come.
Some years ago, Dag Hammarskjold wrote, “For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.” We sometimes hear the past celebrated because it set the stage for the future. I have trouble “celebrating” the betrayal and pain Jesus experienced when human beings rejected the life and love he offered. Instead, I honor Jesus’ steadfastness to who he was and could be.
“There is a point,” wrote Hammarskjold, “at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back.” Because of Jesus’ choice, grace works its way into the world
I cannot celebrate a soldier with devastating wounds or a family’s loss when a parent or child dies too soon. But I am grateful when God’s purpose and possibility turn pain into space for grace. What I celebrate is the way our strong God persistently works through horrible human situations to bring grace and hope. It is what turns tomb to womb.
God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity,
but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance,
renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
- Dag Hammarskjold
Today, may you be renewed by the steady radiance of Christ's inexplicably living presence.
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.