So What Now?
By Caroline Dean
April 22, 2012
Luke 24: 13-48
(mp3, 4.1Mb) ]
t us pray: “Loving God, we ask a special blessing today on our confirmation class – that they might know your love and that we might be a faithful community of support for them, in this time – grant us your peace and the knowledge of your presence with us – in Jesus’ name we pray – Amen”
Now on the day when the women ran to the tomb and found it empty,
two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles
from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had
happened. While they were talking,
Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from
recognizing him. Jesus said to them, “What
are you discussing, while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then 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 in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and
word before God and all people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed
him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to
redeem Israel…and some were at the tomb early this morning, and 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...”
Then Jesus said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of
heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah
should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the
prophets, he interpreted to them all things about himself in all the
As they came near the village
to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But 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. When he was at the table with them, he took
bread, blessed and broke it and he gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they
recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our
hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road, while he
was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found
the eleven and their companions gathered together…
While they were talking, Jesus himself stood among them and said to
them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and thought that they
were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why
are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; see that it is I
myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost
does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he has said this, he showed them
his hands and his feet. While in their
joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “have you
anything here to eat?” They gave him a
piece of broiled fish, and he took it and he ate it in their presence.
Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples do a lot of “seeing and not
seeing” and “believing and not believing.” They lock themselves behind closed doors and hedge when they meet
strangers on the road to Emmaus (who might lock them up or torture them for
being associated with Jesus). They spend
a lot of time in joyous belief and disbelief and wonderment. It’s like this whole journey with Jesus, this
whole story, has to sink in a little more. They have to spend a bit more time processing it. They have to connect the dots; Jesus gets
frustrated with them and calls them “slow to believe.” But I am sympathetic! They are still in shock from losing a friend
and the symbol of their hope for the future.
And this is
the reality, for all of us if we are honest, not just Jesus’ disciples or a new
class of freshly dunked class of confirmation students, the reality is that we
spend our whole lives letting this story sink in, wavering between joy and
disbelief, locking ourselves behind closed doors and experiencing the
transcendent peace of Christ even in the shadow of the darkest valley. We spend our whole lives dealing with the
grief of broken dreams and the losses that send us into seasons of shock and
A year of silly movies
A year of bridges runs and worship journals and
mentor bowling competitions
A year of questions like “what is prayer” – ‘can
you be a Christian without going to church” etc
A year of sardines and scavenger hunts and
A year of friendship
A year of exploring faith, church, and the life
of Jesus together
now? (FRIENDS, TEAMMATES, FAMILY – sacred versions)
What do we
do with all of our questions, all of the dots in our faith and in life that
need connecting? Our confirmation
program does not promise answers, but it does promise a group of people to
journey with in our questioning – the church.
that I noticed about all of these texts when Jesus appears to the disciples is
that they are always “clumped” together. Even the friends walking on the road to Emmaus, they are hashing these
things out with each other. And Jesus
appears over and over again to a group of his friends in a locked upper room or
to some sort of assembled gathering. In
this moment of vulnerability and trauma – losing their friend and their hope
for the future – their instinct is to “stick together.” Which makes a lot of sense
to me. You have shared this
journey with Jesus, the moments of miraculous healing, of inspiring life
changing teaching. You have also shared
the moments when each disciple in his or her own way betrayed Jesus.
confirmation, and church life together is about clumping – It’s about gathering
with the ones who share the miraculous moments of life – those who know your
grief – those who know your shame, your darkest moment – and when we gather –
we have a greater sense of the peace of Christ and of the teachings of Christ
that burn in our hearts. When we gather we share the journey and we struggle and every once
in a while we can connect a few dots.
How do we
handle our questions – our struggles – our disbelief and our moments of belief?
we assemble, we stick together. We do this thing called ‘church.’ And it’s beautiful to think that the
beginning of the church was founded upon these friendships, these folks who
clung to each other in their most vulnerable moments. A lot of time we think of the disciples as
weak or full of doubt locked behind those doors – but it can also be a beautiful
portrait of spiritual friendship and support that their instincts were to be
together in their fear and doubt – which then allows for them to be together in
their faith and courage.
So, What do we do now?
After a year of confirmation, in middle school
the best image for this is a really good friend. After confirmation we are challenged to
practice spiritual friendship with the people sitting next to us in our pew
today. We have their backs,
we sit with them when life sucks. We
know the joyous moments and we discuss the journey together, the mundane and
the sacred. We explore God’s love
together, in forgiveness and grace and loyalty. Another beautiful image is that confirmation pulls us more deeply into
this spiritual family – folks who love you, who want to stick by you, mentors
and friends who want to be family to you. So this is how we “clump”
together, we practice spiritual friendship and we find deeper connection in
this spiritual family.
So what do we do now? What happens next? How does this change anything?
Brown Taylor has a sermon on Jesus’ hands and feet. And she points out a curious moment when the
disciples are wavering and Jesus says “look at my hands and feet” – as if to
say – it’s really me! Which
is interesting because in our culture – we don’t recognize each other primarily
by our hands and feet. But if you
think about it, our hands and feet really do tell us a lot about what we love –
what we do with our lives. I am reminded
of Sherlock and his crazy rules of deduction-he could walk in a room and see
someone’s hands and tell their story. She has ink blotches on her left hand = left handed.
his hands have calluses from lifting weights for lacrosse. Her hands are have
calluses from playing harp. Her feet
have blisters from soccer or field hockey. Her hands have wrinkles from swim practice or little bits of clay tucked
under her fingernails from pottery class. His hand fed a shark in South Africa. Her hands have “I heart one direction” scribbled all over them. Her hands are freshly manicured from a mentor
date. His hands have a bracelet from
Nicaragua, or dirt under her nails from roofing at RISE. We have scars on our hands that tell a
story. My hands are always cold on
Sunday mornings – people say cold hands – warm heart. A lot of people’s hands are tan from spring
break in Florida (I wish mine were!) J
recognized when he takes the bread, breaks it and gives it to them.
says “look at my hands and my feet”
When they looked at Jesus’ hands
“They saw the
hands that had broken bread and blessed broiled fish...They saw the hands that
had pressed pads of mud against a blind man’s eyes and taken a dead girl by the
hand so that she rose and walked. They saw the hands that danced through the
air when he taught, the same hands that reached out to touch a leper without
pausing or holding back.
(Jesus’ hands) were wounded now…the
hands that had joined him to other people and the feet that had joined him to the
earth. They had holes in them, sore angry-looking bruises
that hurt them to look at.
(But) you can
look at them now (he said). He wanted them to know he had gone through the
danger and not around it, so he told them to look—not at his face, not into
his eyes—but at his hands and feet, which told the truth about what had
happened to him.
How can you
use your gifted, scarred hands and feet to “huddle together” in our
church? To be a part
of our church?
Art shows –
quilting – boy scouting –
strong hands from LAX to build a roof at RISE.
tender hands to hug street kids Nicaragua
agile feet to play tag with little ones in Sunday School.
Use your courageous
feet to walk into places that are unknown.
hands and feet reach out to connect with each other and to root you in this
place in this people
confirmation we a church family promise to be here – to “huddle” around you in
fear and joy. But on confirmation Sunday
we also ask you to use your hands and feet to serve, to welcome the stranger,
to connect, to learn, to journey, to eat together
sometimes in the meal – when our hands our breaking the bread and giving thanks
– we recognize God in our midst – we realize that Jesus has been with us this
So how do
we let this story sink in? So, what do
we do now?
together and when we huddle we share the gifts of our hands and our feet. Because when we break bread in our huddle –
every once in a while – we see God in our huddle – and when we put our hands
and feet to work – when we do what we love in the midst of spiritual friendship
and sacred community – sometimes we get glimpses Jesus’ hands and feet and hear
him whisper “peace be with you.” Amen.