Friday, April 28, 2017

The Third Sunday of Easter, Year A: On the Road to Emmaus



O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


I am in the midst of a training program our diocese is running right now, forming discipleship coaches for our communities of faith. The method we are using /learning seeks to have the coach "walk alongside" the persons and communities being supported in order to help them develop skills and confidence to proclaim Christ to others, fostering growth in discipleship while expanding the mission and presence of the Church.

What does that mean? It means making room for the Holy Spirit to move, and taking the time to recognize her movement and to celebrate what she is doing in people's lives. It means renewing a commitment to a living, vibrant faith that is transparent to others. It means walking humbly with someone as you listen prayerfully to them discern God in their lives. It means celebrating their realizations and supporting them in their struggles of becoming what God intends for them. 

I can find no better image of this effort that the one above, and no better witness in scripture to this effort than the risen Christ's encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In many ways, it is THE resurrection narrative in the Gospel of Luke, and it points to something more than just an end to Jesus' earthly tenure...for it sets the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles. It is the launching point for what will be the birth and maturation of the Church as a community of disciples transformed and sent out as apostles into the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God in Christ.

The hearts of the two burn as Jesus listens to their account of the events in Jerusalem that we commemorate in the liturgies of Holy Week, and as he responds to them by opening the scriptures to them...and with that, understanding begins to bloom in them. Confusion ebbs away as clarity rises...the Crucifixion, the empty tomb...it all begins to make sense. Instead of feeling fatigue after a day of walking, their pause at the inn is another opportunity to continue this conversation, this relationship, over a shared meal.

It is in the breaking of the bread that they finally come to realize: THIS IS JESUS! With that, their moment of walking alongside each other and the Savior is brought to fulfillment. 

It isn't heartburn. (credit to Fr. Greg Bezilla at yesterday's coaching sesssion)

It is the Spirit moving them, enkindling in them the first hint of the holy flame of Pentecost.

It is the call each of us is experiencing all the time, to make the journey from being one who does not know Christ to being a disciple of Jesus...and then to make the transition from one who is following to being one who comes alongside others to invite them into their own transformation in the light of Jesus' love for the world.

(credit to the wisdom and good coaching of Canon Rob Droste, and to the companionship of the Rev'ds Joanna Hollis and Greg Bezilla, my companions on the Emmaus road this year).

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