Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal and The Path to Emmaus

Easter Sunday

Today's Word:
Acts 10:34-43 ("Everyone who believes in (Jesus) will receive forgiveness of sins through his name")
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 (This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad)
Colossians 3:1-4 ("Seek what is above")
or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ("Clear out the old yeast...let us celebrate the feast")
John 20:1-9 (The Resurrection according to John: Peter and John see the empty tomb)
or Mark 16:1-7 (The Resurrection according to Mark: "He has been raised; he is not here")
or Luke 24:13-35 (The Path to Emmaus)

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!!

Mary Magdalene:
I have seen Him this day
I have walked with Him
I have talked with Him
And He nearly took my breath away
And now I want to tell everyone
So they may believe

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!!

And when I saw Him
He called me by name
And I knew my Master once again
His voice was gentle
His eyes were so kind
He took the sorrow from my mind

I have seen Him! Alleluia!
He is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!!

He was free again this day
Free from everything
That once had bound Him
Though the stone of Death was rolled away
And now He wants to see all his friends
So they will not grieve
So they may believe

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!!

And when He saw them
He called them by name
And they knew their Master once again
His voice was gentle
His eyes were so kind
He took the sorrow from their minds

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!!


--He Is Risen from "Truth of Truths" (1971)
words and music by Ray Ruff and Val Stoecklein

A blessed Easter to all who have passed this way! If you have been reading along with me since I started on February 22, a special prayer of thanksgiving to God for you for staying with me!

We have entered a new season of glory - God's glory in Jesus Christ!

It struck me over the last couple of days that the resurrection of Jesus offers assurance to us, and because of this, a boundless hope exists for all - a hope that withstands the doom and gloom that our 'experts' foretell about the world. This doesn't take away our troubles - but it gives us inspiration to help us overcome them; even to discovering the next innovative breakthrough!

Was there any hope among Jesus' disciples in the hours following his burial? It is hard to say. Obviously, nothing that may have been written to that regard survives to this day. It would seem that a mob-rule panic was setting in. The Jewish chief priests had incited the crowds to believe that Jesus had become the source of all their troubles. Would it end here? Or would his followers be hunted down and share a similar fate?

John indicates in his writings that the eleven remaining apostles (and most likely Jesus' mother, Mary, whose care had been entrusted to John) holed themselves up (read: nearly barricaded) in the upper room where only hours before they had been sharing the Passover Seder meal when those crazy things started happening and it all started to unravel. Then after the solemn observance of Passover, Mary Magdalene and other women went out to where Jesus had been buried, to look after the body as was the custom of the time. When they saw the stone sealing the tomb moved away, and the assigned guard not at his post, they became anxious. What could have happened?

Peter and John are told of this. They knew they were risking the possibility of being questioned, captured, or both. Yet they went immediately. John, being much younger, took off at a sprint and arrived first; but waited; by this time he was aware that Jesus had previously conferred on Peter the mantle of leadership. Peter and John ultimately verify what the women had first seen. John believes on this sight at once; but none of them had yet made the connection that the missing body was proof of all that had been foretold.

Meanwhile, two other disciples are leaving Jerusalem, perhaps in order to get out of town before more trouble starts. Emmaus, while not far, was far enough to be removed from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem. These two disciples have lost hope; given up the ghost, as it were; with Jesus dead and buried, all that he had done was becoming little more than a bittersweet memory. Another traveler is about to overtake these two, but happens upon their conversation and is much interested in it, for he happens to be its subject.

Luke writes that over the remainder of the walk to Emmaus the three engage in serious and sometimes heated conversation over how the prophecies of the Old Testament referred to Jesus. When they get there, it's nearly sunset; but the first two are so wrapped up in conversation with the latecomer that they urge him to stay the night with them. So they prepare dinner; and while the blessing is said, Jesus reveals himself to the pair, and then vanishes! They return immediately to Jerusalem (perhaps even in record time for the period) where they discover that others have also realized that Jesus is risen, as he promised!

What tremendous hope has been given to us in the resurrection of Jesus! It completes the act of salvation started at his crucifixion, and is the fulfillment of God's presence among us!


Over this week I will share with you my own figurative path to Emmaus as well as my return home, which will take us to the present. I'll also share with you an interesting story about the obscure song I posted -from memory- at the top of today's reflection.

But for today, we are again bathed again in the light of the risen Christ! As was said by (St.) Augustine of Hippo, we are Easter People - and Alleluia! is our song!!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

--Jesus Christ is Risen Today (Easter Hymn, 14th Century, Surrexit Christus Hodie)
Translation: 18th Century (vs. 4 by Charles Wesley, 1740)

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