13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." 25Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?" 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This is another scripture passage the lectionary specifies for several times during the Great Fifty Days of Easter. We hear it on Easter Evening for all 3 lectionary years A B C and on the Third Sunday of easter year A (Matthew's year, this year) and year B (Mark's year).
Backtracking to Holy Week: Jews celebrating the Passover Seder as a feast along the way—out of slavery in Egypt, not yet settled in the Land of Promise. The passover meal includes foods symbolically associated with their history as people of God; sometimes Jews refer to "eating history" as they consume those foods. Matzoh that's unleavened bread baked in haste and eaten in a hurry; lamb shank for the sacrifice offered on the eve of leaving Egypt and to remember God redeeming Israel with an "outstretched arm"; egg for a pre-passover offering; bitter herbs or veggies for the bitterness of bondage; charoset mixed from apples, pears, nuts and wine to recall Egyptian bricks and mortar; salt water for tears of slavery and saltiness of passing through the Red Sea, celebratory wine. Seder participants retell the story of their liberation with tastes, textures, appearances, smells (audible splashes and crunches, too) of these symbolic foods—revisiting and re-experiencing where they've been, "eating history." These also are foods that no longer depend upon empire = are locally sourced. During the seder Israel sings or chants (ideally) or recites the celebratory Hallel Psalms, 113-118.
Hallel Psalms belong to the church's Holy Week observances. Psalm 116 is our responsive psalm for today when the Emmaus Road account recalls Jesus' founding meal of Bread and Cup on Maundy Thursday, when we also sing and hear Psalm 116.
Like passover, Emmaus Road from Luke's gospel is an account "along the way," going from one place to another, A Word on the Street. Word on the street can mean buzztalk, rumors, news bulletins, update from financial markets such as Wall Street, a.k.a. "The Street". In any case, not at your destination but not where you started out.
We had a long discussion of how wonderful that Jesus visits everyone, not only the high and mighty and famous; we talked about our inward-looking and grieving selves that often don't notice or read the signs and clues of God's presence in our midst. I emphasized again that though we refer to Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, always has flesh and bones, always is enfleshed, embodied, incarnate. In addition, though we think we know the rest of the story because of our prior experiences of rebirth and resurrection and from our acquaintance with the witness of Old and New Testaments, new life always surprises us, because each time is different an we're never ever ready. I mentioned restored riparian habitats and how the forest revives after a wildfire, both very local concerns. Again, how the new creation never is pristine, but always bears evidence and scars of its prior state, frequently of its death.
When we celebrate Holy Communion / Lord's Supper every week, just as in the passover, part of our eucharistic prayer ("Thanksgiving at the Table" in our printed worship folder) includes a remembering or anamnesis that tells the story of salvation, ideally starting with creation and concluding with the eschaton, the future ultimate time of the reconciliation of all creation. This remembering place us vertically and horizontally within the history of God's people in every place and every time. As in the passover, we participate in "eating history" when we replicate Jesus' taking, blessing, breaking, and giving bread and fruit of the vine. Note: anamnesis for Easter 3 was four short lines! As Paul/ Saul of Tarsus tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, when we celebrate eucharist we proclaim, we announce, Jesus' death and resurrection. We eat history and we also anticipate the eschaton, the full realization of Jesus' reign.
Just as every year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, next week we'll enjoy Good Shepherd Sunday; stay tuned!