Sunday, May 13, 2018
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
There’s nothing like a good long walk to clear your mind. Whether you’re sad, angry, or confused, a walk can really help you feel more at ease. The physical component to walking stimulates that part of the brain that releases endorphins and lightens your mood. It calms your soul and gives you a renewed sense of peace.
A lot of people feel that way about running too, and we have many members right here in our congregation. But as for me, I like to walk, especially outside. I love being out in nature whether it’s walking through a forest listening to the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet, or on the beach with the warm sand under my feet and the smell of the salty air….well, you get the picture. Walking is something I like to do and I know I’m not the only one.
I usually have my cell phone with me, but once in a while I’ll leave it behind and those are the times I wish I had it. Because it always seems that when I forget my cell phone something unexpected happens when I wish I had the camera on my phone. I spot a woodpecker on a tree right near me, or a chipmunk posing in front of me, or a tree with a hollow in it that looks as though it were perfectly made as a door for some small creature. And without the aid of a camera, I am left to my own memory and storytelling abilities to relay the story as best as I can. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but words too when chosen carefully can paint an amazing picture. And that is what the disciples in our gospel text from Luke were trying to do.
Our story today begins in the middle of a conversation that began when two of the disciples – Cleopas and another unnamed disciple – were out taking a walk. They were on the road to Emmaus talking about all that had been happening since the resurrection. They recounted how the women ran to the disciples to tell them that the tomb where Jesus had been buried was empty and how they saw angels who told them Jesus had been raised. They didn’t believe the women; they thought it was an “idle tale.” So Peter had gone to the tomb to see for himself and it was true. The tomb was empty. Cleopas and the other disciple were going over and over the events and trying to grasp the reality of it when their walk was interrupted by a stranger who asked what they were talking about. They were astounded and asked the stranger, “are you the only one who hasn’t heard the news? Jesus of Nazareth is alive!” They then proceeded to tell him all the events of the last few days. They needed to tell this story; it was healing for them. Stories have a way of doing that. The disciples were filled with joy, yet uncertainty about what this all meant. They urged the stranger to stay with them and he agreed. And when he began to eat with them and break bread with them – they recognized him. It was Jesus! Their minds quickly flashed back to the last supper they had with him. He is risen! They didn’t have any cameras, and they couldn’t wait to tell the other disciples that they had seen the risen Jesus!
And that is where our story picks up today. Just as they were telling the disciples this amazing experience, Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you!” Yes, that’s what they need most of all – peace. The disciples were seeking safety – locked up in their houses except for the few times they went out – walking to where they needed to go – then going back to where they felt safe. They were certain they could find peace in being locked up safe and secure, trying to prevent any more sudden changes, but the truth is everything in life changes at one time or another. That is the nature of life – change. Each and every minute of the day things are changing – plants, seasons, temperatures, air currents, creatures, including humans. That’s what threw the disciples into a frightened frenzy. If the tomb was empty and Jesus was risen that meant even death was no longer what it was before. Because of Jesus even death was changed from something that was final to something that God had power over. And that threw the disciples off balance.
It can throw us off balance too. Change is hard for many people. We often resist it – preferring the familiar over the new because it’s what’s most comfortable. . We want things to be the same as they always were because we feel secure with that and we think that it will bring us peace. But that’s not always true. Hiding doesn’t really make us secure. Storing up things doesn’t make us secure. They only prevent us from seeing God’s grace as we venture out in our daily lives. We can have peace even when things are up in the air, even in the midst of the storms and challenges in our lives. We can have this peace if we put our trust in the risen Christ, who is the evidence of the truth to God’s promises.
Jesus doesn’t call us to live lives that are safe and risk free. He calls us to live lives of peace. And peace sometimes requires taking risks for the sake of the gospel. It comes from accepting that change is a part of life. It comes from moving forward beyond what is certain and stepping out in faith to do what Jesus calls us to do and be – our true authentic selves. For God uses each one of us with our own unique and special gifts – to reveal Christ in our midst. Jesus commands us to help one another on this walk of faith and recognize Christ in our midst. But we can’t do that if we are only seeking safety. Peace comes from living life to the fullest. It comes from being brave and courageous enough to let others see our vulnerability and our light – the light of Christ shining within us. The light of the resurrection doesn’t erase our scars, it transforms them.
Every day we are walking, and like the disciples walking to Emmaus that day, the risen Christ is walking with us and we need to have our eyes of faith opened to recognize him. For Christ is truly risen. This is no idle tale and this truth give us peace in the midst of our storms. We will have storms, challenges, and heartbreaks, but Christ is with us to give us peace. It’s a deep peace that as the psalmist says, allows us to let go of our worries and lie down and sleep in peace, because God gives us the true security and peace we seek. Christ’s peace gives us courage to work toward justice and peace for all. And in reaching out in love and telling this story of the power of God, we will find true peace and share it with others. We are called to be witnesses to the gospel and to walk a life of peace. Be prepared in your walk of faith to see the unexpected. Be prepared to see the risen Christ. You will see him with the eyes of faith and live your lives out of love so that others will see Christ in you. God’s peace be with you. Amen!