Tag Archives: hope

In the Breaking Bread

emmaus

 

We were on our way to Emmaus. There seemed little point hanging around in Jerusalem.  Jesus was dead.  All those hopes dashed, dreams failed to be realised, thinking this was it – when clearly it wasn’t. God’s not back, the promised Messiah isn’t here after all, and, frankly, we look fools.

The women had come back with tales of the tomb being empty and some angels telling them that Jesus was risen, but how can that be true?  Wishful thinking and the all too easy visions of the bereaved and heartbroken I’m sure.

So we were off. Nothing else for it really.

As we walked along we tried to make sense of it all.  What had really happened?  What had all this been about?  Who was Jesus and what was he really trying to do?

As we went along someone else joined us. I had no idea where he had been as he had no idea about what had happened in the last few days. He must have been buried somewhere to not know about all the commotion that had gone on.  How could he not have heard about Jesus and all the amazing things he had said and done?  How had he not heard about the whole trial, death and crucifixion debacle? Didn’t everyone know about the tomb now being empty?  How could we begin to explain all this to him?

Then he said something really strange. He challenged us on our understanding.  Clearly he knew more than he’d let on!  He said we were slow. Rude! That we had failed to grasp that the Messiah had to suffer these things – it was precisely that that proved he was the Messiah.  And he went right back to the beginning of the scriptures and carefully explained it all.  It was our own personal theology and Christology lesson.  What an amazing encounter on such a day from someone who we thought hadn’t got it.

We came to the village.  He seemed to be going further, but after such a conversation we couldn’t let him go.  It was late and offering hospitality was the right thing to do, so we invited him to stay with us.  The meal was on the table. He reached over and took the bread, and he broke it…

Wow!  Echoes chimed, realisation dawned.  This was Jesus – alive and with us. Without us realising he had made everything clear to us.  He had journeyed here with us and now he was in our house and breaking bread for us.

He is alive. He is risen!  He is here.
Francisco de Zurbarán La Cena de Emaús (excerpt) 1639.JPG

May we know God’s blessing,
his presence
his reassurance
and his feeding

when we recognise him
and when we don’t.

May we know that he walks with us
whether we realise it
or not.

May we be very sure
when we need to be

and know that he is with us
always

Amen

Luke 24:13-35 (GNT)

The Walk to Emmaus

13 On that same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; 16 they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. 17 Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”

They stood still, with sad faces. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. 20 Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21 And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. 22 Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, 23 but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24 Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” 27 And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; 29 but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others 34 and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!”

35 The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized the Lord when he broke the bread.

Good News Translation (GNT)Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

 

 

 

Meeting Me As I Weep – Taking Me To A New Place

John 20:11-18 The Message 

11-13 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

13-14 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.

15 Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

16 Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

17 Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

 

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

He called my name,
gently,
lovingly,
that tender voice I knew so well.

I knew it was him.

This was no figment of my imagination,
a hallucination in my distress.
This is him – Jesus.

Different, but still my Jesus.

Here with me.
In all that is going on,
and all that will be.
Ever present.
Knowing me.
Loving me.

He stands by me in my weeping
and takes me on.

He is here.

He’s not dead, he’s alive.
He still knows me and calls to me.

I’ve got to go and tell.
They’ve got to know.

 

I hear you Lord,
calling my name.
Into my confusion,
my despair,
my pain,
my questioning.

You stay with me
in my weeping.
You call my name.
Tenderly,
reassuringly,
filled with love
and comfort.
Bringing hope
and peace.

I hear you,
find you,
know you afresh.

And in my time
I go
and tell
that you are here.
you are not gone,
distant,
dead

you are alive

On this most poignant of Easter days, God remains with us. He has not gone, but stands with us in our weeping and leads us on. Hope dawns again.

 

 

 

 

 

He Wasn’t Here

This week’s lectionary reading is incredibly poignant for the time we find ourselves in.

I suspect this post rambles a round a bit, but I offer it dredged from the bottom of my brain-fogged head.  Feel free to engage with me as we work out our theology for these times together.

 

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary after the Death of Lazarus - 1962.116 - Cleveland Museum of Art
Rembrandt van Rijn – The Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary after the Death of Lazarus

Lazarus gets sick, his sisters ask Jesus to come to him. But he doesn’t – at least now when or how they think he should…

John 11:1-45  (GNT)

The Death of Lazarus

11 A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, became sick. Bethany was the town where Mary and her sister Martha lived. (This Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was sick.) The sisters sent Jesus a message: “Lord, your dear friend is sick.”

When Jesus heard it, he said, “The final result of this sickness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he received the news that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“Teacher,” the disciples answered, “just a short time ago the people there wanted to stone you; and are you planning to go back?”

Jesus said, “A day has twelve hours, doesn’t it? So those who walk in broad daylight do not stumble, for they see the light of this world. 10 But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light.” 11 Jesus said this and then added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.”

12 The disciples answered, “If he is asleep, Lord, he will get well.”

13 Jesus meant that Lazarus had died, but they thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him.”

16 Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been buried four days before. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Judeans had come to see Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother’s death.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died! 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for.”

23 “Your brother will rise to life,” Jesus told her.

24 “I know,” she replied, “that he will rise to life on the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; 26 and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord!” she answered. “I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. “The Teacher is here,” she told her, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him. (30 Jesus had not yet arrived in the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.) 31 The people who were in the house with Mary comforting her followed her when they saw her get up and hurry out. They thought that she was going to the grave to weep there.

32 Mary arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet. “Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

33 Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved. 34 “Where have you buried him?” he asked them.

“Come and see, Lord,” they answered.

35 Jesus wept. 36 “See how much he loved him!” the people said.

37 But some of them said, “He gave sight to the blind man, didn’t he? Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Lazarus Is Brought to Life

38 Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. 39 “Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered.

Martha, the dead man’s sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”

40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?” 41 They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. 42 I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” 43 After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.”

The Plot against Jesus

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him.

Good News Translation (GNT)Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

 

Why doesn’t Jesus do what they want, what they think is right??

He wasn’t here,
he didn’t come.

Our brother was sick
and Jesus
did not
come to him.

He left him alone
to suffer
without
being with him.

How can he have done that?
Did he not care?

If he really loved us,
cared about him,
would he not have been here
holding us,
making everything ok,
saving him?

Where were you
when we needed you?

***

We know the theology,
that one day,
in eternity,
all will be well
and all will be healed.
But what about now?
What about our brother?

Jesus,
where are you?
are we not important to you?

They may have thought that Jesus didn’t care, didn’t understand or just couldn’t do anything about it. They were really angry with him – quite justifiably perhaps. But actually Jesus already knew what was happening – he was already on his way to them, fully aware of what the situation was.  He was coming to do the Right Thing – that might be different to what they desired.

When he was met with Mary and Martha Jesus stood among them and wept.  What a powerful image that is. Jesus stands among the pain, despair and feelings of desertion and weeps with them – and then does something.

Clearly physical resurrection is not going to be what happens for everyone – and how painful that can be, particularly at this time in our world history.  But he still stands there among the pain and anguish and weeps as we weep – I firmly believe that because I have known it in other devastating times.  Please do not think that is a glib phrase, easily trotted out.  It is my experience and my hope.

The other reading for this week is Ezekiel 37:1-14, the famous passage about the Valley of Dry Bones. To me, with my illness, the main part of which is dryness in every part of the body that produces fluid, this passage speaks very loudly. The bones were dry, beyond help or restoration, and yet new life and hope was promised.

The new life that we see will be very different.  I am acutely aware that there will be some loved ones missing from it. There will be devastation – and that is tragic and gut-wrenchingly painful. Few of us will be immune. I myself am in the highly vulnerable category.

But somehow, eventually, piece by new piece, we do find a new way to live with the pain and brokenness and ultimately to know hope again. The dry bones of life as we knew it will have breath again and there can be life anew.

These are painful times we are living through.  There are no easy answers, to try and give them would be very wrong.

But we can bring to God our emptiness, our pain, our fear, our anguish and whatever other emotion (or probably a whole roller coaster of them) we are feeling. The God of brokenness is with us.

(I wish this song was a bit slower – but we have what we have!)

 

 

 

This was shared on Facebook, which puts a different slant on this reading:

now (John 11)

Now,
it is no longer
an exegetical puzzle
to be solved in our study;
it is no longer a pericope (a passage from the bible)
with which to wrestle;
it is no longer a (really)
long reading to get through;
it is no longer a story
we blow the dust off every 3 years.
now,
it is our story;
now
it is about us;
now
it is us inside that
dank, dark tomb:
stinking of fear,
wrapped in the bands
of loneliness;
blinded by the handkerchief
of weary worry.
now,
we hope,
we pray,
we yearn,
we listen
for just a footstep,
just a tear dropping on the ground,
just a whisper of Jesus
pacing before the stone,
growling in his spirit
in anger and frustration,
before he cries out,
in hope and joy and life,
“come out!”

now,
we are not casual bystanders;

now
we are Lazarus

waiting . . .

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

 

 

For now, may each of us know God’s blessing and peace,
may we know he stands with us
and weeps with us in our fear and despair
may we know his presence
and may his blessing be
with each one of us
those we care for,
those we are worrying about,
those who are ill,
and those we have lost,
today
and always

Amen