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  • The Rev. Arianne Rice

"What Things?"

The sermon starts at about minute 8:30. The gospel text is Luke 24:13-35

It’s good to be with you this morning. Good to come together even if we can’t really be together. Good to hear the word of God. Good to pray. Good to sing. Good to hear recite the psalms, ancient prayers of the people – hallelujah Good to remember on the third Sunday of Easter – that we are Easter people. We believe in new life. We believe in life everlasting. We believe in resurrection.

Yes – all of that is good – and – it’s not good. This is hard.

It’s hard for this to be church – because we all know this is a substitute – this isn’t right.

It’s hard to hear a story about Jesus being made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread – when we can’t break any bread! And that will be true for an unknown but significant amount of time.

It’s hard hearing the stories of people who are not allowed to be with loved ones in distress – in hospitals – in nursing homes.

It’s hard for kids who can’t go to school – who don’t have sports – who can’t be together for proms and graduations – and all the rituals that mark the significant events in our lives.

It is hard right now because there is much to grieve.

It’s hard walking on the road to Emmaus. And that’s exactly where I feel like we are. This gospel story as you may have noticed takes place on what we call Easter Sunday. We haven't left Easter Sunday. It's still the third day after the death of Jesus and Cleopas and this unnamed disciple are walking on this road trying to process what has happened.

They're talking back and forth. I imagine they are having shell-shocked conversation like you and I have had in so many ways over the last six weeks. I imagine Cleopas and this unnamed disciple are grieving. They're in grief over their teacher who has died. Grief over the cruelty of that death. They're scared. They're anxious. They don't know what comes next.

Day by day – that is you and me right now – we do not yet know what comes next.

And all of a sudden – here comes this stranger wanting to know what it is they are talking about.

Can you imagine someone coming up to you these days – if you are fortunate enough to be able to take a walk around your neighborhood – I know not all of us are able to do that – so imagine being asked – so what’s going on – what is this thing you all keep talking about?

We’d probably reply like Cleopas – are you kidding me? Are you the only person in the world who doesn’t know what is happening right now?

Jesus – who they don’t yet recognized – isn’t fazed. It’s pretty normal for us to lash out at people who think should know better – particularly when we’re stressed and times are hard – especially when we’re grieving.

But Jesus just asks again – what thing? What’s going on? Tell me.

I invite all of you – when this service is done – to sit with God – to sit with other people in your home – or with your journal, as I often do – and answer that question – what things?

What things are hard? What things do you miss? What things do you wish were different?

What things are good? What things are good and sad at the same time? What things give you hope? What things keep you up at night? What things have you stressed? What things calm you down.

In other words – all the things. There’s no use denying any of it.

Resilient people acknowledge all of it.The good stuff and the painful, hard stuff too. Acknowledging it is the only way to move through it.

All of us – myself included want to get to that house where they are going to have dinner and break bread. But we’re not there yet – we’re here – with Jesus on this road – that’s where we are today. And we don’t have to be anywhere else.

We don’t have to have it all figured out – because we can’t. There’s reason Jesus asks – what things – before they get to where they are going. We need to talk about it with God – with each other. We need to open our hearts and let God’s healing – God’s words – God’s love – in.

We strengthen our compassion muscles when we do that.

We model for our children and others – when we don’t diminish the disappointment someone else feels – we simply listen and support what they are feeling.

Minimizing our own pain – or someone else’s doesn’t help anyone – it just makes a person feel guilty for having their feelings. Love – mercy – compassion – those are in infinite quantities – you don’t take any of it away from someone else when you let your grief be known and healed.

I know we’ll get to the house – where we break bread – share a meal – and give thanks for Christ’s presence in our midst. But also know we’re not there yet – it’s going to be a long road – it already has been.

So my prayer this day – is that we make time to share what’s burning in our hearts – with ourselves, with God and with one another.

I pray that we may see with the eyes of our hearts enlightened – for then we see the true presence of Christ all around us – just like those disciples before us – who had a long road ahead. Amen..

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