I’ve been a Christian all my life and in vocational ministry for the past thirteen years, but I’ve been in some sort of spiritual wilderness wandering for the past several years. I’m beginning to think that this may just be the new normal for me. But my time worshiping at Holy Trinity Edmonds has been particularly refreshing over the past year and a half.
I had the honor of giving the following homily there, this past weekend, the third week of Easter. The text is Luke 24:13–35: the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Imagine you and one of your friends walking and talking around Green Lake, or on the Burke-Gilman trail, or along the Edmonds waterfront. You’re talking about something that has both of you enthralled, maybe completing one another’s sentences, or even cutting into one another’s sentences because you’re so worked up. You’ve lost track of time, lost in the conversation.
Maybe you’re talking about the Seahawks off-season trading and all of its implications for the coming year. Or, maybe you’re still talking about the recent presidential election and all of its implications for the coming year. Maybe your friend is a trusted co-worker at a company you both work for who’s decided to downsize—and what future might that bring?
And now, don’t just imagine a conversation partner who shares all of your opinions exactly. Instead, imagine someone who sharpens your own thinking as you go back and forth in dialogue. Your passion about the topic growing ever more intense as you walk and talk.
Walking and Talking
In our Gospel reading today, Luke chapter 24, starting verse 13, we meet two disciples having just such a passionate conversation. Their whole world had changed that week. As we read it, this walking conversation happened “that very day”.
This is Easter Day Luke is talking about here. There couldn’t possibly have been bigger events to capture their imaginations than those culminating on the first ever Easter Day.
As they walk and talk, someone overhears their boisterous conversation and comes alongside to join in. Who wouldn’t want to join into a lively discussion?
Hey guys, what are you talkin’ about? What’s got you so excited?
Here comes the new guy.
They catch him up to speed on the latest news, and kinda make fun of him for being so uninformed in the first place. “What rock have you been living under?” He would later return the favor: “Oh foolish ones, slow of heart”, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
They don’t know, of course, that their new conversation partner is none other than the allegedly resurrected Christ.
But here’s a key detail and something we should stop to think about: their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Now, there are a few different ways of understanding what that means, but it seems most likely that God himself, somehow, for some reason, didn’t want them to recognize Jesus—at least, not yet.
As we continue this story, we should pay close to attention to how much Luke says about eyes, recognizing, seeing, appearing and vanishing.