April 26, 2020

“Recognize”

By Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy

Psalm 116.1-4, 12-19

Luke 24.13-25

April 26, 2020

This week I asked you to send pictures of yourselves and your family members, and so we will start this time with a powerpoint of pictures from the congregation, and I ask you to pray for each person.

Slideshow

What was that experience like? How many cats did you see? How many dogs? How many teddy bears? How many masks? When we are focused on something specific, we can miss something else. Sometimes that is bad, like when someone is focused on texting when they’re driving, or when they are too narrowly focused on a future project instead of homework due the next day. Yet, sometimes, it’s ok when we miss something, because it means we were being present, we were focused on what we needed to in that moment. In this instant, it was more important to be prayerful than counting everything.

In the Gospel reading for today the two people walking do not recognize Jesus. They travel by foot seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They have heard the stories of resurrection but have not seen Jesus. They cannot even begin to fathom what their future looks like in Emmaus, or what happens next, but they know they need to travel back.[1] They probably did not expect Jesus to die. They probably did not expect him to resurrect. They probably expected a different messiah, in a different time frame.[2] Rev. Shannon Michael Pater writes: “Easter does not always come in three days. Stones are rolled away, but sometimes we stay in the tomb.”[3] Maybe right now we still feel in the tomb: the anxiety of not knowing how long the stay at home orders will be extended. The feeling of needing to accomplish things, but not being able to. The urgency in a world put on hold. The grieving as we pass dates that had plans that go unnoticed. Our priorities have shifted. They have to change in this time. We carry all these with us, and I imagine the two people walking to Emmaus carried a variety of emotions with them, as well.

Jesus joins up with them and takes in all of their conversation. They do not recognize him – and we do not know why. Perhaps because they are wrapped up in what has been happening, Jesus’ face being masked by their own grief and confusion. Perhaps Jesus looked different. Perhaps seeing was not believing for them. The past couple weeks I have talked about how differently we learn and believe. Mary believed when she heard Jesus speak. Peter and the beloved disciple believed when they saw. Thomas needed to touch him. These two disciples do not believe until the bread is broken – until they smelled the bread, tasted it, when they experienced the familiar meal greeting that Jesus was known for doing.

Their connection happens at the table, where Jesus loved to gather. There is hospitality, welcoming the stranger. There is also vulnerability.[4] They did not recognize him, but they invite him into their home. Rev. MaryAnn McKibben Dana talks about the vulnerability happening right now during this time of a pandemic. Essentially we are letting people into our homes as we videochat and video worship. We are risking the dog barking, the mess of our kitchen table, the children walking in asking if they can have a snack – and everyone is risking this, because everyone is living this reality.

Next week we will break bread again. How important is communion to you in this time? In some denominations the week before communion is a time to prepare for the next holy meal. The congregation spends the week asking themselves questions, such as what do I need to give to God before taking this meal? What do I need to receive from God?

The psalmist in the psalm we read praises God, thanking God for listening. The psalmist has experienced suffering, and it is suggested the psalmist had an illness that usually ended in death.[5] In the time of COVID-19 this is a very real fear. We come with many very real fears.

So, I thought we’d do another break-out with some questions:

  1. What do you fear in this time?
  2. What do you need to give to God?
  3. What do you need to receive?
  4. Where do you sense God?

Does anyone want to share any of their answers?

Let us pray: Holy One, in this confusing time, full of questions, emotions, and struggles, we look to you, for you have guided us in the past, and we praise you. Prepare our hearts and minds this week to receive you in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup. May we be filled with your peace so we may share the good news. Amen.

 

[1] Cynthia A. Jarvis, “Luke 24:13-35” in Feasting on the Word: Year A., Vol. 2 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 419.

[2] Shannon Michael Pater, “Luke 24:13-35” in Feasting on the Word: Year A., Vol. 2 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 418.

[3] Ibid,. 422.

[4] Molly T. Marshall, “Luke 24:13-35” in Feasting on the Word: Year A., Vol. 2 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 422.

[5] Fred B. Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay, Gene M. Tucker, Preaching Through the Christian Year: A, (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992), 260.