April 3, 2005-Open Eyes, Open Hearts


Open Eyes, Open Hearts

Luke 24:13-35

The risen Christ encounters disciples on the Emmaus Road.

Emily Peck, Sunday, April 3, 2005

 

[Luke 24:13-35, .Open Eyes, Open Hearts,. Emily Peck, Sunday, 4/3/05]

I.m a sucker for Peter Pan. Maybe it.s the stubborn .I won’t grow up!. declaration;

maybe it.s that there.s a place where you don.t have to grow up; maybe it.s just the

spirit of play. One of my all-time favorite movies is one that didn.t do very well in the

theaters or with critics, but did great things to further my Peter Pan obsession:

.Hook.. In it, Peter Pan has fallen in love with Wendy.s grand daughter (which of

course makes sense because Wendy has gone back to England and continued to grow

up while Peter has remained a boy in Neverland). He leaves Neverland, marries

Wendy.s grand daughter, has two kids, and is a workaholic.

When he ends up back in Neverland he has to convince the Lost Boys that he is Peter

Pan because the Lost Boys know all grown-ups are pirates and Peter Pan does not

grow up! There.s an incredibly touching scene in which a little Lost Boy comes up to

Peter and tries to find the boy he knows inside this man. He takes his little hands and

smooshes Peter.s face around, stretching back the wrinkles and making him smile.

When he stops, he says in a very sweet voice, .Oh there you are Peter!.

As I was reading this week.s Gospel account of the two men on the road to Emmaus, I

was struck with the similarities.believe it or not.between this scene and the one

from Hook. It.s as if these two men are the lost boys and Jesus is trying to make them

see him. He does so by talking with them, teaching them about the prophets and

about himself. But not until he breaks bread with them do their eyes open. And they

can say, .Oh there you are, Jesus!.

This gospel lesson includes a great .ah-ha moment.. Moments like that are so

beautiful, they tend to cause those around to also experience an .ah-ha.. One of my

favorite .ah-ha moments. happens when working with children who are learning to

read. I.m sure some of the folks who volunteer with the tutoring program and work

with younger children have seen this. All of a sudden letters come together to make

words. A child.s favorite book stops being the one he or she has memorized.a

whole library is open to them because now they can really read. That .ah-ha. moment

isn.t reserved for the child, though, it spreads to the parents and teachers and tutors!

Contagious .ah-ha moments.. There.s such newness, excitement, and wonder

involved with them. Oh there you are Jesus! A contagious .ah-ha moment.. And just

like children learning to read, this moment is a long time in the making.

These two men on their way to Emmaus were not disciples, at least not with a capital

.D,. not one of the now eleven men who we hear about repeatedly throughout the

gospel account but one of the many unnamed followers who were clearly touched by

[Luke 24:13-35, .Open Eyes, Open Hearts,. Emily Peck, Sunday, 4/3/05]

Jesus. teachings while he was alive. It.s the day of the resurrection and they.ve heard

an account of the missing body from the tomb.

As they.re walking, Jesus meets them along the way. Luke tells us that .their eyes were

kept from recognizing him.. Who kept their eyes from functioning properly? This is

one of those passive voice statements that any English teacher of mine would have

circled with a big red mark and told me to rewrite. For precisely this reason. These

men have a lot invested in Jesus; they say, .We had hoped that he was the one to

redeem Israel.. And they don.t recognize him! They are the first people Jesus has

chosen to reveal his resurrected self to and they don.t recognize him!

Jesus calls them foolish and slow of heart for not believing that the resurrection has

happened. I don.t take this as a reprimand or an angry statement, but an amazed

statement. .You.re kidding! After being told of the empty tomb and this vision of

angels the women see when they go to it you still don.t believe?! Let me help you out

with this.. So he starts to interpret scriptures for them about Moses, other prophets,

and himself, and, of course they still don.t recognize him! They are so thick-headed!

This story is only found in the Gospel of Luke, and it.s one of my favorites. I find it so

beautiful and so moving. At this place in their walk with Jesus, I think, .Alright!

Another biblical account I can relate to! I am so thick-headed sometimes!. And slow

of heart? I got that one, too. Sometimes is so hard to trust other people, the people

who you work with, live with, love. How much more difficult is it to trust a God who

you can.t really see, at least not in the traditional way of seeing? That.s where these

men are, too. They actually had the opportunity to see Jesus–maybe they did.

Maybe they heard him teach. Maybe they were at the sentencing or crucifixion. And

now they have a chance to see him again after the resurrection, and they can.t do it.

Slow of heart, slow to trust. And why shouldn.t they be? As they said, they had hoped

that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. They had hoped that this man was right in his

explanations of the character of God, the kingdom of God, the empowerment you

can get from God. They had hoped that the challenges Jesus posed to them and the

miracles they heard about were true. And yet.. And yet they have heard he.s dead.

Everyone is talking about it. It.s the buzz on the street; it.s on all the news stations

and the front page of every paper. They can.t get away from it.

This is a pregnant hope. They don.t .hope it doesn.t rain tomorrow and ruin their

picnic.. They hope for redemption for a land oppressed by Rome. They hope for their

 

[Luke 24:13-35, .Open Eyes, Open Hearts,. Emily Peck, Sunday, 4/3/05]

lives to change dramatically. Yet we read that their eyes are kept from recognizing

him. It is not necessary to think or assume that there.s some sort of divine

intervention that keeps their eyes closed. That.s an easy place to go. Let.s assign a

subject to that passive voice; .God kept their eyes from recognizing him.. That tricky

passivity opens it up for us to put our own subject in place. But what if it is they

themselves who keep their own eyes closed? They dared to hope when Jesus was

walking around, living, talking, breathing, healing. And when he was hung on the

cross and died, they protected their hearts, gave up their hope, and continued their

usual daily activities. They slowed their own hearts and lost trust in Jesus. teachings.

At the end of our first Scripture lesson this morning is this statement: “Through him

you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so

that your faith and hope are set on God.” Jesus. connection to God, the closest

relationship anyone could possibly have, was so that people like these two men and

like you and I could also have a close relationship with God–through this person who

was flesh and bone and was born like we all are and can speak real words to us and be a

part of a real community.

1 Peter says, .through him you have come to trust in God.. But not for these men

right now. They doubt. They doubt everything.and again, why shouldn.t they? I

understand being slow of heart. Jesus understands, too. So he teaches them again; he

interprets scripture for them again, just like he did before he died (and rose.),

because just being there wasn.t enough.they didn.t recognize him. But not until

they open their home to him so that this .stranger. doesn.t have to walk out alone

into the coming night, not until they have a meal with him do they get it.

Do you remember the first time you took Communion? Can you recall to memory

what the words in the service of Communion are? When K breaks the bread up here

do you know what he.s going to say? Communion is a wonderful, blessed sacrament.

Our church believes that it is a special means of grace, a way to touch an untouchable

God. Communion is one table for all of us, a God we can touch because we come to

the table together as a community.

For the two men in this gospel narrative, breaking bread with the stranger they.ve met

on the road is also a special means of grace. When Jesus gives them the bread he has

just blessed, they suddenly get it. They see him for who he is. They finally get their

.ah-ha moment.. Oh there you are Jesus!

 

[Luke 24:13-35, .Open Eyes, Open Hearts,. Emily Peck, Sunday, 4/3/05]

And what happens? Jesus vanishes. They realize how blind they were when talking to

him on the road to Emmaus. (Weren.t our hearts burning while he was teaching us

just a little while ago? We totally should have known that was him!!!) And they get

up and go back to Jerusalem, which they just left, to tell this wondrous news to the

disciples, capital .D.. That.s a contagious .ah-ha moment.. They.ve got to share their

revelation.

The United Methodist ad campaign that you.ve probably all seen and heard is .Open

Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.. I can.t think of a better Scripture lesson to go with

that than what we just read today. Except maybe I would add to it: .Open Eyes, Open

Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.. Once their eyes are open, these two men

remember a feeling they had in their hearts while they were walking with Jesus, and

when they get it.they have to run back to their friends and share the experience with

them.

Open Eyes, Open Hearts. I like that they remember their hearts burning because that

doesn.t sound very comfortable. A lot of times when our eyes are opened, when we

realize that we.re asked to put our trust and faith in God, it.s a little uncomfortable;

it.s difficult and can even be painful. We don.t want to dare to do that. When John

Wesley speaks of his conversion experience, the time he can point to as being sure of

his own faith in God, having complete trust in God, daring to hope for the kingdom

of God, he writes that his .heart was strangely warmed.. That.s a very poetic way of

saying the same thing; Wesley.s heart was burning within him. I wonder what would

happen if we allow our eyes to open and our hearts to burn with the possibility of

complete trust and hope in God.

This morning, in just a few minutes, we.ll celebrate Communion. We.ll break bread, it

will be blessed, and we will be with our community. I encourage you to watch the

celebration. When you aren.t up here receiving at the table, before you come, after

you come, if you choose to remain where you are and observe, I ask that you watch

and dare to hope. Dare to hope that this one table is a way to bring our community

together, that this is our family dinner. Dare to hope that there is redemption for this

land oppressed by injustice everywhere.by racism, sexism, heterosexism, religious

intolerance, destruction of the environment. Dare to trust that all of our lives can

change dramatically because of Jesus. teaching, healing, blessings, birth, death,

resurrection.

 

[Luke 24:13-35, .Open Eyes, Open Hearts,. Emily Peck, Sunday, 4/3/05]

Dare to allow your eyes to be opened while this special means of grace is being handed

out. Dare yourself to let God set your hearts on fire; feel it burn within you. Feel how

scary it is to let yourself really set your faith and hope in God because of your

experience of Jesus and your reading of the Scriptures about him. Feel how

uncomfortable it is! And feel the amazing .ah-ha moment.. When your eyes are

opened and your heart is burning, exclaim, .Oh there you are Jesus!. and let him

change your life in whatever way he.s calling you to change.

St. Augustine wrote that his heart was restless until it rested in God. What does it look

like for your heart to rest in God? What will it make you need to run out and do?

Who will it make you need to open the door for?