(Before you read this get yourself a bit of bread)
Put your hand up if you attended a Sunday School (and if anybody can see you they are now wondering whyyou’ve just put your hand up). Not all, but many of us have attended Sunday school – some may have enjoyed it, others like me, may have found it rather boring and wishing I was somewhere!
I wonder if you have any mementos of those days – a bible, a hymn book, a certificate? I wonder if you remember anything you learnt? Or if you came by a different route into church – in your teens or as an adult what do you remember of what brought you to that point?
Maybe it all seems a bit long ago, perhaps it has lost its edge – if so then you’re in good company with thedisciples on the road to Emmaus. They sort of knew their stuff, although they needed a little reminder to prompt their memories about Moses and the prophets? Their world had been turned upside down and it maybe it felt as though God has gone missing at the time when God was needed most. Today questions such as, where is God at this time of Corona Virus, and ‘why’ put us alongside those sad disciples as they walk away from Jerusalem. We know suffering is part of our world, our history – consider the Psalms or Job. The death of Jesus on the cross stands as a reminder that God enters into our world of suffering: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” asks the stranger.
In Christ, God participates in the suffering of all, of the world. It is the only answer, it is an answer of “I amwith you…” wherever you find yourself, in whatever situation.
On the road to Emmaus the stranger encourages the disciples to remember what they have learnt over all these years. We are encouraged to think about what we’ve heard not just in Sunday school but week by week at church. Remember all of that but that is not the end of the story. It’s simply the beginning, a trellis upon which faith can grow. The living faith comes when the disciples “recognise” Christ in the stranger. The stories, their learning comes to life in the new life they encounter.
We are being led/encouraged/prompted to recognise the risen Christ, the living Spirit, in our lives and the life of the world. With the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the moment of recognition came when they sat together to eat, when bread was broken. At the moment we cannot meet together to eat. In some sense, perhaps it feels that we are the broken body of Christ. But we remember that it is in the breaking apart that Christ comes to meet us. In the sadness, in the brokenness we remember what we have learnt and let the Spirit draw us into connection with the living presence of Christ.
Find some space and take some time to do this (pause as you go along): If you do have something from Sunday school or when you became a church member, place it alongside you as a reminder of all that you have learnt. Then, I invite you to take your piece of bread. Hold the bread in your hands. [PAUSE] Give thanks to God remembering the farmers, the bakers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers, your neighbours. [PAUSE] Break the bread and in doing so remember the suffering of the body of Christ, the brokenness in our lives, our communities, our world. Remember the work of charities like All We Canworking with some of the world’s poorest people so that they can put bread on the table. [PAUSE] Now eat the bread. The brokenness is part of us but in this we encounter the presence of risen Christ dwelling within bringing peace and joy. [PAUSE]
The Lord has risen indeed.
Keep going dear friends. Peace be with you. With love, Nick