In The Breaking of the Bread

Some of you know that I was privileged to spend Holy Week and Easter Day in Israel and Palestine with the Presiding Bishop and a small delegation. Our visit was, in part, pilgrimage and, in part, a statement of our solidarity with the Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land and to assure them of our friendship, prayers, and support.

This is my fourth trip to the Middle East and I am always amazed at how my reading of the Bible takes on a different quality after each visit. For example, little things jump out at me that I would have overlooked before. Today’s Gospel begins, “Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem…”

Normally, as soon as I read the word “Emmaus” I know what the story is going to be and I launch immediately into theologizing about the two followers of Jesus and who they were and how they were joined by the Risen Lord and how he’s sort of playful with them before drawing the story out of them, discussing scripture with them, and finally being “made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35).

But today I couldn’t get past the first line –“a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem!” We drove by that site (actually several sites – because there’s some dispute as to which one is exactly the location of this resurrection appearance) just a few days ago! And it really isn’t very far from Jerusalem! An easy walk – especially for people who were accustomed to getting everywhere on foot.

Everything is close over there! We walked up the hill on Maundy Thursday from the Old City to the Garden of Gethsemane and it didn’t take more than 20 minutes! We walked the Way of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa and were home for a late breakfast! You can throw a rock from the traditional site of Golgotha to the burial place of Jesus – all contained within the walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher! It’s all right there!

And, of course, that’s the point. It is all right there! The Christian faith is not some philosophical system of belief or even code of ethics. The Christian faith is a relationship of trust in One who was really born in Bethlehem…grew up in Nazareth…moved to Capernaum…preached and taught and healed mostly in the farm country of the Galilee…made one or more trips to Jerusalem where he was arrested, tried, convicted and executed.

The Christian faith is trusting, along with those two disciples in today’s Gospel, that “…some women of our group astounded us.  They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.” (Luke 24:22-23).

You can visit the site of that tomb today…and all those places where our Lord lived and ministered. It’s important to know that. But it’s also important to know that you can experience that same Risen Lord right here…today…in exactly the same way as did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

For “when he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him…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 to them on the road and how he had been known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Risen Lord, be known to us too this day…in the Breaking of the Bread!       

3 Responses to “In The Breaking of the Bread”

  1. Lee (caminante) Says:

    What a helpful posting for those of us who preach about this story but who haven’t been to Jerusalem… I have copied this and saved it into my sermon files… perhaps for next year. A blessed Easter. Lee Crawford

  2. Holy faith in the Holy Land | Seven whole days Says:

    […] was moved by today’s entry, focused on the lections for Wednesday in Easter Week. Everything is close over there! We walked up […]

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