Easter 3 - Sunday, April 22, 2012
Luke 24: 13-35
Prop: Photos of Michelle Obama
(Begin by showing portrait of Michelle Obama.)
You might recognize the woman in this photo. It is Michelle Obama, the First Lady, or wife of the President of the United States. Mrs. Obama was on a talk show called Late Night with David Letterman recently. On the show, she shared a story about a recent shopping trip she took to her local Target store. She had her hair up in a pony tail, covered by a baseball cap and she wore sunglasses so that she could shop in peace and not cause a rucous with people getting all excited because the First Lady was in the store. Here's a picture of her at Target, trying to be unrecognized:
While Mrs. Obama was shopping in the detergent aisle, a short woman approached her and said, "Excuse me, may I bother you for just a moment?" Mrs. Obama thought, "Uh-oh, this is it. She knows who I am and I'll have to go home." The woman then said to Mrs. Obama, "Would you mind reaching up and grabbing that bottle of detergent off the top shelf for me?" The woman had just asked the First Lady of the United States of America to hand her a bottle of detergent, and she had no idea. She didn't recognize her. Imagine how shocked that woman was if she was watching the interview on David Letterman and recognized herself in Mrs. Obama's story! She probably called all of her friends to share the exciting news with them. She had met the First Lady!
On the first Easter Sunday, two of Jesus' followers were walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. It was a long, 7 mile walk--like walking from Rehoboth to the Lewes Library. The couple was talking about all the things that had happened during the past week with Jesus--his joyous entry into Jerusalem while the crowd shouted, "Hosanna!," the Last Supper with his disciples and friends, his arrest and trial, his death on a cross, and then the amazing story some of the women had shared that morning about finding the tomb empty. Christ had risen? This last bit was hard to believe.
As they walked along, Jesus himself came up and walked near them, but his two friends didn't recognize him. Jesus asked, "What are you two discussing with each other?" They stopped walking and stood still, looking sad. One of the two, Cleopas, answered Jesus, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know what has happened there this past few days?" Jesus pretended that he had no idea and said, "What things?"
Then Cleopas told him how Jesus of Nazareth, a mighty prophet, had suffered and died. Cleopas said, "But we had hoped that Jesus was the One sent by God to save Israel." And then he told Jesus the strangest news of all--that some of the women in their circle of friends had gone to the tomb early that morning, only to find the tomb empty. A vision of angels told the women that Jesus was alive.
Then Jesus responded to Cleopas' words, saying, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!" Then Jesus explained the Scriptures to the couple, beginning with Moses and the prophets. He wanted them to understand that what had happened to Jesus was all part of God's plan all along; that everything was going to be OK--it was all good.
They came to Emmaus, and the two invited the stranger to stay with them for the night, as it was getting late. Jesus agreed.
At dinner, Jesus held up the bread, just like he did at the Last Supper. He said a blessing, broke the bread in pieces and gave it to his travel companions. In that moment, the moment of communion, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And Jesus vanished.
Can you imagine how astonished the two travelers must have been? They had spent the whole afternoon with Jesus and didn't even know it! They were too excited to stay in Emmaus that night. They walked--maybe even ran--the seven miles back to Jerusalem They found the disciples and told them all that had happened. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Let's Pray: Dear God, we thank-you for the Good News. Christ is risen! Help us to recognize the Risen Christ in our world today, and to follow him as faithful disciples. Amen.