Looking Forward to Sunday: Are You the Only Stranger?

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Apr 20, 2020

Readings:

Acts 2:14a, 36–41; Psalm 116:1–14; 1 Peter 1:17–25; Luke 24:13–35

Der Gang nach Emmaus, Joseph von Führich, 1837

     The two had been shuffling town to town, living in their mockery of a station wagon, a rolling address for a time uncertain, telling improbable stories when they showed up, last in line, at the church food pantry. Then, as if dazed by a vision, the couple’s progress back to their bald-tire shelter halted. They stood still, looking sad. “We have an empty bedroom,” said the volunteer, a jolt that hinted that her words had outmaneuvered her judgment. Whether a plea or a confession, she continued, “Please come; stay with us.”

     So, they did. The night passed, and several more like it. The hard-luck Chevy sat vacated in the driveway while in the house, stories unraveled into blessings. Then one morning when the coffee was brewed and bread browned into toast, they were simply gone, the two of them and the Chevy. On the kitchen table a note read, “Sutch [sic] a blessing that was here will stay with us for a long time or ever.”

     How many times while walking the seven eternal miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, discussing with each other the things that had taken place, did those two disciples of Jesus glance at his face or flinch at the sound of his voice, seeing only a stranger with them? It remains the misty curiosity of this late-in-the-day Easter story. How could they not know who he was, walking with them? What blind irony hangs from their one question: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know . . . ?”

     Then—why?—they invited this stranger in. “Stay with us.” Perhaps the real surprise is not those disciples’ blindness but our bemusement that they did not recognize Jesus when he came to them. For how often have we, too, failed to see Jesus in the stranger?

Prayer

O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.