Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager is the Senior Associate Minister at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in Old Lyme, CT.
Scripture: Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Reflection: Glimpses of Resurrection on the Road
I’m a power walker. Well, I used to be when I’d walk early in the morning or cram steps into my schedule later in the day if I was too busy. That was before COVID-19. Now, walking isn’t just a way to burn calories or clear my head in ordinary times but has become a daily spiritual practice. Each footfall, a way to forge a trail through tears, worry and wonder in this time of Corona.
As the days of isolating at home continue and the death toll rises, I find myself walking farther and farther. I’m on the lookout for Resurrection. Lacing up my hiking boots for a trek in the woods or my worn sneakers, if it's time for a neighborhood walk. Often, the waves and smiles I receive in a day from passing cars is grace enough to fill my bucket for another day. Seeing the azaleas rising pink is resurrection, too.
Sometimes my husband and I hike up into the 100 acre wood at the end of our tiny dirt road. Noticing how the naked trees have slowly turned into branches of budding blossoms overhead is a balm in Gilead. As Tagore once wrote, Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.
Often, I walk through the quiet Old Lyme streets with my neighbor - at a healthy 6 foot distance of course. She is struggling to manage hospice at home for a loved one. On this day, we try to talk about things other than the latest news flash but inevitably, the days’ headlines creep in. Sometimes, we cry hard tears at all that has been lost. Often we laugh. This road warrior’s strength, courage and humor place my own inner grumblings into perspective.
In Luke’s telling, Cleopas and his unnamed friend are walking away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. The road is long so there’s plenty of time for their grief to be shared. Conversation is punctuated by the stunning news of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and the women telling the news of a rolled-away stone. The stranger in their midst on the Emmaus road is quite clueless. Though we know otherwise.
So changed is Jesus that they don’t really get who he is until later that night when they sit down for supper. Ultimately, an offering of hospitality leads to bread broken and sight restored. Luke tells us, “Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread”(24.35)
What does it mean to be on the lookout for resurrection in each step? As Easter people, we’re reminded once again that all is not lost. In spite of the debris of disease and the on-going pain of separation from one another, love in the time of Corona prevails. In each footfall, as we journey side by side, we can witness to the hope and random gestures of kindness offered along the way. How can we not see that Jesus is here in the strangers tending to loved ones in the ICU and the folks giving out more bags of groceries on the town green and church lawns? How can we not see him in the neighbors sharing the road with us? Some may miss him.
Though we know otherwise.
Loving God, may we see you in the daily walk we do as witnesses to your
resurrection in the dark. Remind us again what it means to be your Easter People as we experience true communion on the way with one another. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving or suffering after a mass shooting in Nova Scotia left 16 dead on Sunday
- For the family and friends of Rev. Alan C. Copithorne, a retired UCC pastor in MA, who died on April 13
- For the families and friends of the more than 37,000 people who have died due to the Covid-19 virus so far
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the many ways in which people are learning to connect or reconnect with family and friends in a difficult time.
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Church of Christ, UCC, Sandwich, MA
Congregational Church of Salisbury UCC, Salisbury, CT
Tabernacle Congregational Church, UCC, Salem, MA
First Congregational Church of Rutland, Rutland, MA
Newman Congregational UCC, Rumford, RI
Eliot Congregational Church of Roxbury, Roxbury, MA
Roxbury Congregational Church, Roxbury, CT
First Congregational Church, UCC, Rowley, MA
Roslindale Congregational Church, Roslindale, MA
Rocky Hill Congregational Church, Rocky Hill, CT
The First Congregational Church of Rockport, UCC, Rockport, MA
This Week in History:
April 20, 2010 (10 years ago) The US Deepwater Horizon, a semi-submersible offshore oil rig owned by BP, explodes, killing 11 workers and causing a leak at the sea floor to pump millions of gallons of crude oil into the ocean. The gusher was capped in July of that year, but not before an estimated 200 million gallons had been released. The environmental impact devastated the Gulf of Mexico, especially the fishing and tourism industries, and its effects are still being observed to this date.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
The Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager is the Associate Pastor at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.