Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Now on that same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village called Emmaus,
about seven miles from Jerusalem,
They were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing,
Jesus himself came near and went with them,
but their eyes were kept from recognizing that this was Jesus.
And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him,
“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have
taken place there in these days?”
He asked them, “What things?”
They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and
how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Jesus they did not see.”
Then he said to them,
“Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets
have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things
and then enter into glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going,
he walked ahead as if he were going on.
But they urged him strongly, saying,
“Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”
So the stranger went in to stay with them.
When they were at the table together,
the stranger took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized that this was Jesus;
and he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road,
while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem;
and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.
They were saying, “Jesus has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two told what had happened on the road,
and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The gospel of the risen Jesus Christ!
The Resurrection violates the Law
The resurrection of Jesus is the turning point of history – the tipping point if you will.
The resurrection of Jesus violated the law:
the law of physics and the law of empire.
It was impossible and illegal to die and come back to life.
Yes, we know stories of someone who “crosses over” and returns:
someone who experiences leaving their body and coming back to life.
When several of us returned to Iraq on the Rutba Peace team in January 2010,
CPTer Cliff Kindy shared his near death experience.
Cliff was injured in our accident on March 29, 2003 and was bleeding from a head wound.
By the time the Iraqi doctor stitched his head – without anesthesia because they had none –
Cliff had lost a lot of blood and was turning white.
At one point Cliff sensed he was floating away from his body and looking back from afar.
He faced a choice to leave or return. Cliff returned and is very much alive today.
Jesus’ resurrection was more than a fleeting leaving and returning to his body.
God raised Jesus to new life after being dead for three days.
God overrode the natural law of physics and overturned imperial law of death.
Imperial law presumes to play god and hold power over life and death.
Jesus was crucified as a perceived threat to the Roman Empire.
“We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor” Lk 23:2.
Jesus’ was crucified and his body was sealed in a stone covered tomb under Imperial guard.
God’s violated Empire’s law by opening the tomb and bringing Jesus to new life.
BUT is natural law and imperial law the only “law” at work in God’s universe of love?
On becoming what we hate…and/or fear – Obama and Osama
This week many who claim to be Christian cheer and celebrate. Many of us have heavy hearts.
It is a tragic irony that the death of Osama bin Laden comes in the Christian Easter season.
However one finesses language or demonizes the other or justifies killing anyone created in God’s image, the tragic truth is how closely aligned are the ways of Obama and Osama.
Violent death is justified and celebrated with righteous fervor.
This week reminds us how easily we become what we hate..
The mechanism of sacrificial violence – revealed by Jesus on the cross and named by Rene Girard — is still operative as the way of the world with willing support from the church.
Jesus’ uprising overturns sacrificial violence and reveals the myth of redemptive violence.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account,” proclaimed Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:11).
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that,” proclaimed King.
“Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that” (1967).
John Howard Yoder wrote in The Original Revolution: “Each generation…says that it is right to identify God’s cause with a human power structure and our enemies with God’s enemies, so as to give us a good conscience in seeking to destroy or at least neutralize them…” (2003:148-149).
The Jesus Uprising: Companions….with bread
God will not let our ways of violence and death be the end.
In the risen Christ, God’s way is made known, God’s reign is made visible.
Emmaus reveals two word images that help us see the risen Jesus and God’s revolution:
companions and bread.
Two of Jesus’ disciples are walking away from Jerusalem — away from death and grief and fear.
They are companions on a journey to Emmaus.
The risen Jesus appears and accompanies them. They don’t recognize him.
Jesus asks them questions and interprets scripture for them. They don’t understand.
However, they offer hospitality and host Jesus in Emmaus.
Before the night is over the two are back in Jerusalem with companions (24:33).
These companions are trying to see and make sense of the risen Jesus.
What is a companion?
Companions accompany another — walk with and look out for each other.
Companion has to do with the common good, the greater good, the other’s good.
A companion is not someone who sees my good in competition or conflict with your good.
A companion does not harm you to help me.
The Latin roots of companion comes from two words:
com meaning with and panis meaning bread. To be a companion is to be with bread.
Seeing and Being Bread for the world
Lectio Divina means divine reading of scripture:
Scripture repeated for our hearing and pondering in our hearts what God is saying to us.
Visio Divina is Divine Vision, Divine Seeing….Seeing God’s Word.
The Saint John’s Bible is a decade long effort to see the Word in all its beauty.
This Saint John’s Bible volume is the Gospels and Acts [on altar open to Luke 24].
Here we “See the Word” of Jesus’ resurrection in the Emmaus encounter.
It is visio divina – divine vision – divine seeing – seeing with the eyes of the heart.
On the Emmaus road the eyes of the companions’ heart did not “see” the risen Jesus.
[Take bread, bless and break it….]
They did not “see” until Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them to eat.
Then their eyes were opened and they saw the risen Jesus with new eyes, the eyes of their hearts.
One of Dostoevsky’s characters in Crime and Punishment, says something like:
‘Whoever holds the bread holds the power.’
Access to bread is power.
Control over bread is power — even power over life and death.
In Emmaus Jesus reveals and reverses the paradigm of bread as power and death.
In Emmaus at the table on the first day of the resurrection
Jesus made visible a central choice of our lives.
We choose the bread of crucifiers or the bread of companions.
We receive this bread from Jesus and become with Jesus the Bread of Life for the world.
Or with the crucifiers we become the bread of death destroying the world.
There is no clearer choice in the world: the bread of life or the bread of death.
Thanks to Susan Lohrentz for baking this bread this morning so we can see and smell and taste
as well as hear the Word. [Give bread baskets to Joy and Sarah distribute to everyone.]
The risen Christ offers us this blessed and broken Bread of Life.
Half the world knows bread as a food staple. The other half knows rice as a food staple.
In these bread baskets are blessed and broken gluten-free rice cakes as well as bread.
Receive and eat of this bread as companions in the Jesus Uprising.
This is bread to open our eyes – the eyes of our hearts to see the risen Christ.
This is not bread of power and domination that closes eyes forever.
Bread of life not bread of death.
Bread as gift not bread as greed.
Bread of love not bread of hate.
Bread of faith not bread of fear.
“Taste and see that God is good” as the Psalmist bids us (Psalm 34:8).
On this third Sunday of Easter, as on that day of the resurrection,
we are truly companions with bread on the Emmaus journey of the Jesus Uprising.
We give the risen Jesus, the last word with his companions in Jerusalem.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself appeared among them and greeting them, “Peace…be…with…you.”