3 Easter (A)

I invite you to remember with me today. I invite you to remember a person or

people who were especially precious to you who have died. It doesn’t matter

who they were, just that they were a vital part of your life. As you remember,

remember what they looked like, how they talked, remember their funny quirks,

how they used their hands or a unique expression on their faces. And remember

special moments – moments when what they said or did was so important to you

that you will never forget it. Remembering those precious people in our own lives

can give us some sense of what the disciples felt as they walked on the road to

Emmaus on that first Easter evening.

 

They had given up everything to follow Jesus and had bet their lives on his being

the Messiah. They had seen him teach and heal people, but most of all, they

had known his love. Jesus knew each of them deeply and loved each of them

without limit. And Jesus taught them that God’s love for them was like that –

infinitely deep and unchangeable. So they were sure that when they came to

Jerusalem and Jesus let people know who he was that he would be welcomed and

celebrated as the Promised One. But after that triumphant entry into Jerusalem,

it all fell apart. The people who had hailed him turned against him quickly, and by

Friday, he had been captured and tortured and killed. Not only had they lost their

best friend in the world, but they had lost the hope they had for the Kingdom

of God coming into the world. The shock and horror and grief must have been

almost unbearable.

 

But if all that weren’t enough, some of the women disciples had come back from

the tomb that morning and told them that Jesus was alive. This must have been

just one thing too many, and some of them decided to take a walk to Emmaus,

where one of them had a home. They probably just needed to get away, to go

somewhere other than Jerusalem. And as they walked, talking about everything

that had happened, they were joined by a stranger, who asked them what they

were talking about. Amazed that there was anyone who didn’t know, they told

this person about Jesus and what had happened to him.

 

And then, things started to get strange. Instead of being sympathetic, the stranger

scolded them for their lack of faith, and then proceeded to explain the scriptures

to them. He taught them the way Jesus had taught them, and they felt all the joy

and excitement they had felt when Jesus was alive. When they got to Emmaus,

the disciples weren’t ready to say good-bye, but urged the stranger to stay with

them for supper and the night. And when they sat down to supper, it happened.

In a way only Jesus could have known, with words Jesus had used at the Last

Supper, the stranger took the bread and blessed it and broke it and shared it with

them. This was unmistakable. This WAS Jesus. Jesus was alive. And they rushed

back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.

 

We recognize people we love by those things they do that no one else does, or no

one does the same way. And what we remember is what those things symbolized

for us. I remember a favorite teacher who would almost giggle with delight when

he heard a really fascinating idea. I remember that giggle as a symbol of how

deeply he loved learning and teaching. What was it that Jesus did and what did

it mean? It wasn’t just the breaking of bread, it was the blessing and sharing that

made them recognize him. And, of course, it wasn’t just the physical act, but all

that it symbolized to them – they knew that, like the bread, Jesus had allowed

himself to be broken for them. They knew that Jesus had poured out his life in

love for them. Jesus had loved them in a way that no one else had or could.

As Christians, we believe that Christ is alive and is still among us. Like the

disciples, we forget that, or don’t really believe it. But the signs of the Risen Christ

are all around us. How do we recognize them? What can we look for? Well, let’s

look at what Jesus did while he was on earth in a human body. He taught people

to love. He taught people to forgive. He healed people who were sick or in any

kind of human pain. And, most of all, he gave of himself. He came as a servant,

and gave all he had – even his own life – for every human being.

 

So that’s what we need to look for. Christ lives in those who love and who teach

others to love. That’s not just teachers, but parents and friends. Christ lives in

those who forgive – in those who forgive us and, in us, when we forgive. Christ

is the healer and lives in those who bring physical and emotional and spiritual

wellness to others. And, most of all, Christ lives where people pour out their lives

in service to others. We have extraordinary examples of that in the saints – both

in times past and now. But Christ does not just live in the superheroes of the faith.

Christ lives in us when we pour ourselves out in love. We may not do it very well,

we may not do it very often. But whenever we deny our own desires for the sake

of another, we are embodying Christ.

 

Today, we are doing two things that are related to this. The first is our offering of

our time and talent for the life of this community. It is a chance to learn a little

more of what it means to love, not just in word or sentiment, but in real, practical

terms. We are reminded that love, justice and peace are all verbs, that we are the

hands and feet and heart of Christ in this world.

 

The second is the baptism of Colin Daniel Strauss.[which we will do at the 10:30

service]. What his parents and godparents and we, his congregation, promise to

do today is to teach him how to recognize Christ – in himself and in others. He will

learn as each of us learns, by being loved and forgiven and supported by others,

learning to see the face of Christ in every person, and learning how to serve

others as Christ served us. We do this because we want Colin to share the gift that

we have been given, being brought into the family of Christ and made children of

God and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Let us pray:

Be present with us, Lord Jesus, in scripture and the breaking of bread, as you were

present with your disciples. Help us to recognize you here, in the world, in every

other human being and, most importantly, in our own hearts.

 

Amen

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