The Road to Emmaus
It’s been around a month since the schools closed and our lock down began in earnest. I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve found this week quite difficult. I find it difficult to focus and think straight. Perhaps it was being slowed down at the beginning of it by a chance injury last week. Perhaps it is because the nature of being locked down is starting to bite. Perhaps it’s because for me figuring a way through to Easter in a lock down was a clear goal with an absolute deadline and now we are trying to find our way into a more steady way of being like this. Perhaps the stories of the impact this virus is having on the lives of those who have contracted it. The statement by the government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty that physical distancing will largely need to stay in place until, at least, the end of the year can’t have helped our mood. And the question I keep coming back to is how do we continue to be the church, how will we continue to be followers of Christ in a world where we continue to be unable to gather.
Today’s gospel tends to be read in quite a jolly light. A pair of friends, followers of Jesus (though clearly not members of the select group of apostles), on a long walk talking about the exciting things that have happened. I tend to imagine being on a walk or pilgrimage with these two, but that is not what this is – they are more likely trying to get away from Jerusalem. This is Easter Sunday and they have clearly heard the testimony of the women who went to the tomb only they don’t consider it to be particularly credible. Jesus conceals himself from them, even when he begins teaching they don’t recognise their teacher! They are distracted, worked up by the terror they are probably feeling. And yet, even if they had no idea that the Messiah would have to suffer and die for their sins. Even if they were still unable to take the witness of the women in their group seriously, as Jesus wanted them to. Even if they were running away scared in a way not unlike when the disciples woke Jesus from the bow of the boat in the storm. They had learned one thing – don’t let a stranger go on alone in the night – don’t miss an opportunity to sit and eat with somebody – don’t miss a chance to show the love of God by imploring somebody to sit down and eat with you. So when Jesus tries to carry on down the road to Emmaus these two scared, confused disciples implore him, beg him, to stay and eat with them. And he does, and his presence in their midst is revealed.
It is practice before understanding. Like for many Christians, and for the children in our community, participation in the ritual and instinctively living out the Good News comes before they are able to explain what they believe.
In Peter’s letter he is also pretty clear what makes us the church – that we live in mutual love for each other, loving each other deeply from the heart because we have been purified by Christ’s love for us. And that love, through which we are drawn into a new birth in our baptism, means recognising that our horizon is beyond this mortal life and enables us to love each other and the world God created, even across the boundaries of physical distancing. So as we contemplate what it is to be the church in these ongoing times of physical distancing, remember that you are loved and be not afraid. Look for Christ and reach out with the mutual love we receive from God – for that is how we will be known.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
I was struck by the favourite movies people sent in for this week’s newsletter.
I learned early on that I couldn’t rely on my own brilliance, even if I couldn’t admit it to anybody else, I admitted it to myself and to God.
Parent friends of mine up and down the country are acknowledging how much more respect they now have for teachers
Those times where we were met as we arrrived, welcomed into the event, put at peace, helped to know what was happening, what was expected, were by far the easiest events to make the most of.