Lizzie Reynolds concludes her 2021-2022 podcast series of reflections on the Gospel of Luke.
In this final week, Lizzie will consider the well-known Road to Emmaus passage of Luke 24.
Welcome to Abide. This is a time where we choose to turn inward as a community, together, by ourselves with God. Don't feel like you need to be in a perfect setting or in a perfect headspace for this prayer practice. The most important thing is that you're here and you're choosing to say yes to whatever these next moments will bring. And so, if you haven't found a quiet space or place, this is a good time to do that, whether you're seated, whether you're laying down, or taking a gentle walk. It's helpful in these prayer times to be relaxed as much as possible and yet alert. And so whatever posture and whatever setting might help for this prayer time and for you and for God, go to that space. Trust this time; trust what God can do with just a little openness of heart.
So, we're going to take a nice deep breath in together, and an exhale out. And again, breathe in and breathe out. And just begin to be aware of the presence of God with you. Maybe you're aware of His presence in your breath, or in the support of a chair, or in the warmth of a blanket or shawl, or maybe just in the quietness of this time. But begin to be aware of the presence of God here, now.
And together we get to practice being present- being in this moment together and being still and awakening our senses to know and be renewed by the presence of God. And I wonder, in these beginning moments of prayer, if you can just imagine yourself being re-routed into God, or abiding in Him again, almost as if you are a lamp and there's a plug and the plug is not plugged in. And so, you go over now and you grab the cord and you plug it into its energy source and the light turns on. Imagine opening up the space to abiding, returning, remembering all that you are, and the power and the love at work within you.
So, relax your body. Relax your face, your shoulders, your stomach, your hips, your legs to your feet.
Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
Let's take another deep breath, now that we've settled into this space together: inhale, and exhale.
In today's gratitude practice, we're going to look over the past few hours, few days, maybe the past week. I wonder when you have experienced a lightness of heart - a lightness of heart like a feather, like your heart felt light and not burdened, or maybe a lightness of heart where there was a light that turned on and things seemed to make sense and you felt a wonderful contentment. And so, I'm going to give you a minute here to reflect on and to ask the Spirit to guide you to a moment - to the moments - when your heart experienced a lightness. And the minute starts now.
Wonderful. I'm going to pair this gratitude practice with inviting you to think about the moments in your last days or the week where it was the heavier heart. Maybe your heart was uptight, or you just had such a bad headache you couldn't see straight, or you just felt like you were falling on your face and your heart got squashed. When were the moments when the heart was heavy? Then spend a minute now having the Spirit gently guide you through some of those moments.
Beautiful. And you might wonder or ask: why are we bringing about times of heaviness in our gratitude practice today? And I just wonder if today, as we give gratitude to God for all the textures of life - the headaches, the lightness, the peace, the uptightness - that this is rich; this is what it means to be alive. And so, we are grateful for another day to live with the whole gamut of feelings, emotions and experiences.
And today is our last Abide in the Gospel of Luke. We are at chapter 24. We've been able to walk with Jesus in such a personal way, seeing His great works, and now we will get to look at the resurrection narrative. And Luke seems to have the most in this area- the most narratives within the resurrection and the only one that speaks about the Emmaus Road. And so today we will be reading Luke chapter 24, verses 13 to 35. But let me just let you know that right before this passage, the women woke up early and went to the tomb and heard that He was risen. And right after this passage, Jesus appears to his disciples. And so right here in the middle, Jesus is going to appear to two characters that we didn't hear much about in the gospel at all - maybe people that were in the outer circle, in the outer 50 or 70 that followed Him. And yet this passage is recorded here, so listen to this reading.
Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. But they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still; their faces downcast. One of them named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning, but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.
He said to them, “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if you were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it's nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And when he was at the table with them, he took bread. He gave thanks and he broke it, and he began to give it to them. And then their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem, and there they found the 11 and those with them assembled together and saying, “It is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
This is the Word of the Lord. Allow it to settle on your mind, on your heart and on your body.
Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened and as they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. But they were kept from recognizing him.
Jesus came up and walked along with them. I wonder how much we spend in a day thinking Jesus, He's not there, and yet He is but we don't recognize Him. I'm so comforted that He's there, even if their eyes are closed to Him being there. I wonder if afresh, you can listen to this word and believe that Jesus is walking in your midst, in your conversations, in your comings and goings; whether you see Him or do not see Him, whether you hear Him or do not hear Him, He's there. Be encouraged.
Jesus asks them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” I love Jesus and how much of a gentleman He is and He asks gentle questions that He already knows the answers to, and yet He wants to hear them speak. He wants to hear what's on their hearts. I wonder if we can be reminded again how Jesus longs to hear us describe how we feel - describe what's going on. And after they share, He asks what things have happened. So He even asks a follow-up question to you, to these two. May you be reminded that Jesus longs to hear your voice, hear your thoughts, hear your concerns as He walks in your midst.
Cleopas and friend share with Jesus, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” It seems that they hoped that Jesus would be different than He was - that He would act in a way that was different than He acted. God seems to fulfill His promises in ways that we don't understand, in timing that we don't understand. Christ reminded us from the beginning that the way for Him will involve suffering and death. And this is hard for our friends, Cleopas and his companion and for us - to understand.
Jesus, open our eyes. Would you expand our ways of thinking and being in this world, that mean you might have different ideas and different ways of going about things. And after your gentle questions, Jesus in verse 25, He says, “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning himself.
So, after the gentle inquiry of Jesus, Jesus will speak His truth. Are you able to hear and receive His promises, His faithfulness? Are you able to look once again at all that He has done, not only in your life and in the generations before you, but even in the times of the prophets? Cleopas and his companion are so encouraged by just Jesus’ conversation, that they asked Him to stay with them. And so, I ask us, how willing are we to continue to invite conversation that guides us into good places and how willing are we to make the time to stay with the spaces that bring us closer and closer to the truths and the promises of God? May we be drawn back into those beautiful reminders.
And then we come into this home and they sit at the table. And He took bread and He gave thanks, and He broke it, and He began to give it to them and then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and then He disappeared. “Weren't our hearts burning within us, while he talked to us, while he opened the scriptures to us?” Remember, in our gratitude practice moments ago, we spoke about lightness of heart, maybe clarity of thinking. We also spoke about times that are heavy and foggy and don't make sense, and that those are- those experiences bring about the rich texture of life.
And here it is with Cleopas and his companion: as they walk with Jesus, they have many moments of fog and disappointment, and then they have this amazing moment of an opening of their eyes and a glowing of their hearts and almost a disappointment within themselves that they didn't believe or they didn't notice earlier. And so, friends, today I pray that we can incorporate this little walk and this conversation and this sitting at the table, and we can realize how ordinary this is every day: walking, sitting at the table, in conversation. Jesus is in our midst. And I wonder if we can say yes once again to just the inconvenience of being a disciple, that we won't always know or see or feel or understand, but there will be moments where our eyes are open.
And so, Lord, I pray that we could abide in those moments, that we could be revived in those moments where we commune with you. And Lord, we see Cleopas and his companion then go out to proclaim the goodness of God. So, the story starts out with sorrow, disappointment, probably slow walking, shuffling along, tears. And the story ends with a connection with their Savior and they run out to share. What a beautiful example this narrative is of life. What a beautiful reminder that we will be blind at times; we will be kept from recognizing Jesus in our midst. And yet we're called to continue, to speak to Jesus, to let Him ask us questions, to hear His truths, to wait and to wait on Him until our eyes are opened and our hearts are light and we remember all that You are.
And so, God, we just want to say yes to our stories, our daily life, the walking in shadows, and the walking in light. We want to thank you, God, for the Gospel of Luke and all of his experiences and all of the beauty: the words, the images, the parables, the miracles, the seeing the outsider and the outcasts. And so, Lord, as we leave this prayer, I pray that we would go write and speak and sing our gospel: the Gospel of Zoe or the Gospel of Amber, Caleb or Ali; that we would go and interact with those around us... speak the good news. We'd walk daily with the challenges of carrying the gospel, the unknowns of the gospel, and yet, the great power and amazing grace of this being, of this God, this Holy One.
So, we close this prayer together and we close this gospel together in these times of reflection, saying, “Glory be to the Father, and glory be to the Son, and glory be to the Spirit as it was in the beginning, as it is now and ever shall be, world without end.”
Go in peace my friends to share the gospel - the gospel story.
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