On the Road to Healing

On April 30, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

On the Road to Healing Luke 24 (Road to Emmaus Story) Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins I had a boyfriend in college…okay, I had a few, but I am recalling one in particular. We proved to be ill suited for one another, nevertheless, he had a dear grandmother. His grandmother had suffered a stroke and lived […]

On the Road to Healing
Luke 24 (Road to Emmaus Story)
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

I had a boyfriend in college…okay, I had a few, but I am recalling one in particular. We proved to be ill suited for one another, nevertheless, he had a dear grandmother.

His grandmother had suffered a stroke and lived alone. She was a widow living on her Social Security and her husband’s pension, Until the pension ran out. Living on Social Security alone proved to be challenging but her home was paid for and she didn’t drive since her stroke, so she made due. I liked visiting her. Long after the boyfriend was a distant and not altogether pleasant memory, I would still visit the grandmother.

She didn’t come from an affluent family but she managed, as an adult, to earn a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. Her children became physicians and professors, and she helped raise her grandchildren. After her husband died she went to work as a college administrator but only for a few years before retirement.

She didn’t get many visitors so she enjoyed when I would come by. She would regale me with stories of her childhood and her life as a mother and finally as someone who joined the workforce later in life. I thought she was lovely and fascinating and kind. I enjoyed every moment I spent with her.

Looking back, I realize that those moments with her were special because they were holy. We shared time together, and stories, and affection, and warmth, and kindness. She made me lunch and gave great hugs at the end of each visit. I now know that what I touched in those shared moments was something divine. Old stories over a tuna salad sandwich and canned spinach may not sound like the stuff of holy communion, but that’s exactly what it was. Sharing. Seeing someone…not just circumstances…not just some odd college kid who would befriend someone else’s grandma, not just a veritable shut in with lots of memories and too few people with whom to share them…but two children of God sharing the most precious gift anyone has, time, and in the sharing experiencing something sacred.

That’s what we see in today’s gospel lesson. Two people walking along, lamenting how badly things have gone. They are walking away from Jerusalem and are 7 miles from it. Jerusalem represents peace, or least the hope for peace, and 7 is the number of completion…so, metaphorically, 7 miles from Jerusalem means about as far from peace as one could get.

They are walking away from peace, and are already far from it, recalling and rehearsing all the pain they have recently been through. But where are they going? They are going to Emmaus, which means mineral springs…mineral spring water has been used medicinally forever. They are hurting and not at peace, but looking for healing…at least that is one way we can understand their walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

Then, suddenly, a stranger walks up on them. Even though they are engrossed in conversation and are deeply depressed, they make time for the stranger. They include him in the conversation. They share with him their story, their grief.

Eventually, they find it’s getting dark, so they stop in a village and secure a room and some food for the night, and they invite the stranger in.
It’s late, we’re tired, we don’t know where you’re going but there’s no need to go there on an empty stomach. Join us for some food.
And the stranger accepts their hospitality.

They’ve been sharing…their time, their stories, their hearts, and now their resources. Let us treat you to a meal, they tell the stranger. And when the stranger starts serving them the food, they realize something profound. Christ is in their midst! Something holy is with them and has been the whole time they were sharing, welcoming, inviting, showing welcome to the stranger.

That’s a powerful message, and a very practical Christology…when we, like Jesus, open our hearts to people, and our doors, and our tables…we experience Jesus. The Christ anointing is among us, even on us. The Lord is risen indeed in such holy moments.

While the two people, I suspect a man and a woman, because only one of the two (Cleopas) is named, and it is usually women in ancient stories who are unnamed…both a man and a woman experience Resurrection power that night (all people are capable of experiencing holiness; all people have sacred value). This is a holy and life-changing night in today’s story…if not a night in history certainly a night in Luke’s divinely blessed imagination.

When Cleopas and Whatshername realize that the power of Christ is still available to them, even after the painful events of Golgotha, they look up and discover the stranger is missing. Perhaps he slipped out quietly while they were having their revelation. Maybe he didn’t want to intrude on their miraculous discovery, or maybe he was tired of them and ready to leave. It doesn’t matter. Even if the stranger they have been kind to does slip out without so much as a thank you, it’s not about him any more. They can be Christlike with their generosity, and when they are, they experience Christ…Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed!

The story then says that at once they got up and returned to Jerusalem. Their return to peace was instant. And they told the others the Lord is risen indeed, we experienced that truth when we continued the Christ mission of sharing hospitality and welcome and hope and generosity. We welcomed a stranger to join us on the road to healing, and we shared our time and our hearts with him, and our resources, and in the sharing, we realized That of God which we saw in Jesus we saw in the stranger, and we can always see. The Christ Light shines no matter the circumstances in our lives.

We all find ourselves far from peace sometimes, and on the road that we hope leads to healing. The peace and some measure of the healing we long for can be experienced in a holy instant, whenever we shift our perception from fear to love.

When we welcome, include, share…when we work for justice, affirm the sacred value of all people, strive to create a world that is fair for everyone and lifts up everyone without demonizing or dehumanizing any group, when we share time, talent, and treasure to build people up and form a community of hope and grace, we are witnessing the presence of the Sacred in our midst. That’s the practical message of today’s bible reading, and this is the good news. Amen.

(c) Durrell Watkins 2017

I am on the road to healing.
On the way, peace is possible.
Divine Grace is always with me.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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