We are working our way through the Season of Easter. We had Easter a few weeks ago, when the tomb was empty and Mary learned of Jesus’ resurrection. Last week, we focused on the story of Doubting Thomas—Thomas was not present when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the Disciples. He wanted to see Jesus resurrected for himself. Today, we read about another even that happened on Easter Sunday: Jesus surprised two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. Listen now to the story as it is found in Luke 24, verses thirteen through thirty-five:

Proclamation of the Scripture            Luke 24: 13-35

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 

but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 

One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 

The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 

but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 

In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 

but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 

Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 

Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 

But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 

and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 

Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Amen.

Here ends this reading of the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Let us pray — Open our ears to hear your Word proclaimed in this place.
Open our hearts to know your Love offered in this congregation.
Open our eyes to see your Presence blessing us in this moment. Amen

Message                                          Breaking Bread

            Even though thousands of years have passed since the events of the first Easter, we still have questions? How did the resurrection occur? Where was Jesus when he was dead – the Apostle’s Creed says he was in hell, what does that mean?  After the resurrection, why did Jesus reveal himself the ways he did? How could the disciples tell Jesus wasn’t just a ghost? Why did Jesus’ friends struggle to recognize him after he was resurrected?

            In our reading of the events on the Road to Emmaus, it says the disciples were “kept from recognizing him.” I suspect Jesus wanted to hear what they would tell him before he made himself known to them. Would they express their sadness at his death? What did they think about Mary’s revelation that Jesus was resurrected? If Jesus revealed who he was immediately, the disciples on the road would have probably kept their mouths shut and let Jesus do all the talking. And, they also probably would have immediately turned around to rush back to Jerusalem and not walked all the way to Emmaus.

            In a few weeks, forty days after Easter, we will arrive at Ascension Day. Before Jesus Ascended to heaven, he told his followers he was going to send the Holy Spirit to be among them. On Pentecost, we will recall the moment when the Holy Spirit broke into the room where the disciples were holed up and filled each of them with the Spirit of God and gave each of them additional gifts that they used to evangelize and spread the word about Christianity far and wide. But, even before Pentecost, we read in the stories of Jesus’ resurrection about the work of the Holy Spirit among Jesus’ disciples. The Holy Spirit was present when Mary recognized Jesus in the Garden. The Holy Spirit was present when Thomas saw Jesus and accepted the truth of the resurrection.  The Holy Spirit was present with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Although the disciples did not recognize Jesus, they showed hospitality to who they thought was a stranger. In response to their generosity and hospitality, the Holy Spirit was particularly present when Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to the disciples – their eyes were then open and they recognized Jesus in their midst.  

            The Holy Spirit is present with us when we practice hospitality as well. When we participate in the life of Trinity, we must remember that we are temporary caretakers of our church. Our congregation was founded long before any of us were born – almost a 100 years or more before most of us were born. And, we hope it will be here hundreds of years after we transition from this lift to the next. Each pew in this room has been tended to by people who were the temporary residents of these seats. Hundreds of people have volunteered their time, talents, and treasures to keep these lights on, and keep these floors clean and keep these doors open.  The Holy Spirit is at work among us to reach out to new people who join us within these walls. And, we are also called to reach out to new people to invite them to join us here.  When we celebrate Holy Communion in a few weeks, I like to remind you, and remind me, that the table we preside over belongs to Jesus – he invites us to eat the bread and drink the juice – he invites us to join him at the holy meal. Likewise, Jesus invites us to join him here at Trinity – this is God’s church, and we are temporarily the caretakers of this place. Our job is to support the work of God’s church, to devote our time and resources to this place, and to hospitably welcome people to come and join us here.

            In the days that followed Good Friday, Jesus’ disciples weren’t sure what was going to happen. They didn’t know if they were just supposed to go back to their former lives, and be regular fishermen or tax collectors or carpenters. They weren’t sure what was going to happen. But, in the story of the Road to Emmaus, we read of disciples continuing to practice their faith through their hospital invitation to a stranger to join them for conversation and dinner, to be their overnight guest in the place they were able to provide accommodations. Let us remember we are also called to practice hospitality, even in the moments of our lives that we aren’t sure what we are doing next. Our calling is to live out Jesus’ teachings to be loving and supportive of other people, even when we are also in need of love and support.

            Let us remember the Holy Spirit is among us to support us, to love us, to guide us and to inspire us to extend God’s grace, love and hospitality to others.