Let’s Go for a Walk – Third Sunday in Easter

Let’s Go for a Walk”
Luke 24:13-35

Easter is about movement. Resurrection moved the cells as well as the soul of Jesus: in ways we cannot imagine the Crucified One came to life and shared the news of God’s everlasting love for each of us. God’s resurrecting energy empowered and inspired the frightened women and men who first followed Jesus to go out into the world and even leave their homeland to share the good news that God loves us and we can be born anew. Resurrection still gets us out of our comfort zones and calls us to the open road of faith: spiritually, ethically, and sometimes physically.

Most of you know that I love to walk. Each morning, and virtually every day of the year, at just about sunrise I walk from the church parking lot to Covell’s Beach and back. This two mile walk takes me past a river, wetlands, and beaches. I spend the walk observing the world around me and my own inner thoughts. I often use the time for intercessory prayer and personal centering, embracing God’s energy of love and letting it flow through me. In recognition of my love for walking, one of my friends has sent me a paperweight that proclaims, solvitur ambulando, “it will be solved in the walking.”

When we move our bodies, our minds and spirits move as well. Just a bit of exercise can improve your health and, according to studies, enhance your immune functioning. I once read a medical study that suggested that homebound people or hospitalized patients who visualized themselves walking had improved health outcomes – but don’t that be an excuse for not exercising: visualization isn’t enough for most of us: if you can move, walk, run, swim, dance, or some activity that moves your cells and your soul.

In today’s story, we discover that a walk, an invitation, and a meal can transform your life, and that’s what happened in the encounter of Jesus with two of his earliest followers on their way home to Emmaus. Trudging down the road, Cleopas and his friend are joined by a third man. Their world has been turned upside down by the events of the past week: celebration, conflict, violence, and death, and now the possibility that their martyred spiritual leader Jesus has come back to life.

Resurrection is just as unsettling as crucifixion. It doesn’t fit into any rational world view, including the theology of resurrection of the first century Jewish people. First century Jews could imagine a resurrection of all humanity at the end of history, but not the resurrection of a solitary individual, who would be precursor of God’s ultimate fulfillment of history.

But, resurrection or not, they are needed at home: so, they walk the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, first sharing their common grief and wonder, and then entering into a strange conversation with their unexpected companion, who unfolds the story of salvation from cross to resurrection. Somehow, they cannot recognize their companion as the teacher and healer Jesus. Perhaps, it is a bit of divine magic allowing them to gently adapt to a new way of seeing; perhaps, it is the highly energetic resurrection body of their companion – the sort of energy quantum physics describes – that both reveals and conceals Jesus’ identity.

Amazed and confused, the two men nevertheless reach out to the stranger. They realize that despite their own unsettledness, Jesus’ life calls them to hospitality and welcome. In the worst of times, we are still responsible for how we treat others; we can still welcome and love another person in times of uncertainty and stress. They invite the stranger to supper, and come to know his identity as the Risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Their hospitality leads to a revelation, an encounter with the Risen Jesus, who is known in the simple Eucharistic acts of praying and eating.

Movement and meal lead to revelation, and then Jesus is gone, vanishing from their sight, but leaving them with warmed hearts, lively spirits, and energetic bodies. They are so energized that they immediately walk seven miles back to Jerusalem to share the good news that Jesus is risen and on the road.

After breaking the bread, Jesus vanished from their sight. He may have needed to be on the move as well. God is not static, imprisoned by yesterday’s revelations and ancient church creeds and scriptures. While the historical creeds and our traditional ways of doing things need to be honored, respected, and claimed when they are helpful to us today, God is alive and on the move, doing new things and sharing new insights with other pilgrims on the journey.

We really don’t know where the town of Emmaus is located. You can’t find it on a map. If you go on line, and look up Emmaus, you will discover that several possibilities for its location have surfaced, but perhaps vagueness is a virtue in terms of the location of Emmaus. In not localizing Emmaus to a particular sector, we can open to the possibility that Emmaus is everywhere and that we are always walking the pathway with Jesus. Wherever we are on the road and at every mealtime, Jesus comes to us, filled with energy and possibility, and the joy of resurrection. We can have new life, and we can be born again, right now at any venue.

But, perhaps, just as important, on each step of the way, whether walking the hallway to the fellowship hall, stopping at the market, or greeting a stranger, we can receive each person as Christ and then see God’s presence in all its unexpected faces and places. In acts of hospitality, as we pound a nail, deliver a casserole, play with a child, plant a milkweed seed, or reach out in friendship, our hearts will be warmed, our spirits awakened, and we will see Jesus.

This is good news that gets us out of our seats and out into the world. Let’s keep moving, and chart new adventures at church and on our daily walks, because Jesus walks beside us on the road.