This Is Weird 4-30-17

This morning’s sermon is based on the Road to Emmaus story found in Luke 24:13-35. I explore what is, to me, a quite familiar story, but wonder if it is as familiar to everyone.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/this-is-weird-4-30-17

Grace and peace to you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

I have confession to make…sometimes pastors will reuse a sermon. This can happen for a variety of reasons…maybe a week becomes too hectic and they don’t get a new sermon prepared. Sometimes, they just said what needed to be said really well the previous time. (pause)

Now, I will say that this is not one of those times…but I have been guilty of this tactic…called recycling…in the past…and though it pains me to say it…I have done it with this very scripture.

The first time I preached on this passage, July 2012…it was towards the end of my year of internship. That congregation does not follow the lectionary as we do here at Underwood, but it came around during a sermon series and happened to fall on my week to preach…I’ll admit it…I was proud of that sermon…it was a good one.

Fast forward 3 months, and I was slated to return to my home congregation and preach…but it was a crazy week…and I…shamefully, recycled that Road Emmaus sermon…that was the fall of 2012. (pause)

Then, in 2013, I was called here to Underwood Lutheran…and my first Sunday was July 7…we moved into town on the 5th and I knew that in the craziness of the move…I would not have time to prepare a sermon…once again…shamefully…I recycled that same Road to Emmaus sermon. (pause)
Low and behold…the next spring…actually my first Confirmation Sunday as the pastor here at Underwood…the lectionary brought the Road to Emmaus back around again…now that time, I actually prepped a different sermon, so at least I’m not completely unoriginal. (pause)
Now here’s the thing…I have enough history with this particular gospel lesson in my history as a preacher…that this week, as I worked towards today’s sermon…I was convinced that this passage comes up every single year in the lectionary.  I was mistaken…but, given my personal history…its safe to say that this is a familiar passage for me…and maybe, just maybe…it’s a familiar one to you as well. (pause)
Now to put things in context…this is another post-resurrection appearance of Jesus…we’ve been having these over the course of the past few weeks as we move through the early part of the Easter Season…and so it stands to reason that we’re going to have the resurrected Jesus appearing to someone that he knows.

As I stand here, the first though that goes through my head is that we all know this story.  2 minor disciples of Jesus…followers though not among the “12” disciples…are heading home. The festival of Passover is over…the Sabbath has come and gone…and so they join the throng of faithful Jewish people heading of the city.

Now remember…even though we celebrated Easter and the Resurrection a couple weeks ago…for these two guys…its still that day…the women had just found the empty tomb and heard the angelic proclamation that morning…and a few of the men had gone and seen the tomb…but as the moment that these two guys hit the road…no one really seems to know what’s going on.  Is Jesus alive? Is he not…is there something crazy going on?  What should we do? Do we pack it all in and go back normal?

This is the state of these two guys…the man that they had followed…the man that they thought was the Messiah…the one to deliver Israel…had died…and despite some odd happenings that morning, no one seemed to know what do.  And so they walk along when another random guy starts walking with them and asks “What are you talking about?” (pause)
Now we know the rest of the story, its Jesus…they don’t recognize him for WHATVER reason…there’s a little back and forth, as these two guys are flabbergasted that he seems to be unaware of what’s been going on…asking if he’s a stranger…but then he opens up the truth of the Old Testament scriptures to them…and once they finally arrive in Emmaus, they invite him in…they all sit down together, he blesses the bread and breaks it…and BOOM…their eyes are open and they recognize the Risen Lord…and now everything makes sense to them so they hightail back to Jerusalem where they find the others and excited relay the message they have encountered the Lord and he was made known in the breaking of the bread.

That’s the story…familiar right? We’ve heard it plenty of times in the past…and combine it with the past 2 weeks’ worth of hearing about Jesus appearing in random ways to various people…and maybe, just maybe, its become a little too familiar.

I wonder if anyone else has fallen into the same trap that I have this week…thinking that EVERYONE knows this story…and like the 2 disciples…astonished that someone would have to ask “What are you talking about?”

But here’s the thing that I realized this week…not everyone knows this story…I think, this is what Jesus is modeling for us today. He approaches the two men with a question…asking them what they’re discussing…and what they’re discussing is the death of the Messiah…as well as the crazy possibility that maybe, just maybe that dead man was alive again…its crazy to them that he would ask…because apparently its all anyone in the city had been talk about since the previous Friday when Jesus had died on the cross…this is why they ask him if he’s a stranger. (pause)
But I’ll say it again…I think Jesus is modeling the stranger in our midst.  (pause) Now I’ll admit it…I live and breathe this stuff week and week out…and sometimes I forget that even regular church people aren’t as familiar with stuff as I might be…but even beyond that…there are times when I taken completely of guard and find out that someone is utterly unfamiliar with this whole story….and not just the road to Emmaus, but the gospel in general.

Granted we live in a society where, most people have in the very least, the passing idea that Jesus is somehow connected to God and that he died and that on Easter he wasn’t dead anymore…but for some…that’s pretty where understanding stops…that’s just the reality.

I came face to face with a good reminder of this through the week. I was sitting down with the high schoolers…and we read through this story…and our newest member Brandy, who is just scratching the surface of a lot of this stuff…she starting asking questions.

Wait a sec…so this is Easter right? And he had just risen? Yes.  And now he’s appearing to his friends…but they don’t recognize him? Yes. Why not? Does he look different? I don’t know…but for some reason they don’t.  Okay…but then when he finally broke the bread, and they recognize him…he disappeared? Yes. (Pause) This is weird. (pause)

Sometimes it takes someone seeing this with a fresh set of eyes to reveal very important truth.  WHATEVER IT IS, that the resurrected Jesus was up to during these various appearances…it doesn’t make a lot of sense to us…and maybe, just maybe, its not supposed to make sense.

After all…this whole gospel story is pretty off the wall isn’t it? The ultimate creator of the universe and everything in it…an entity or presence or something that we call God enters into our reality as one of us…and then God dies…and then, defying all logic…this dead man who is also God, is raised from the dead and starts popping up in random places before ultimately going back to heaven, but empowering his followers with the Spirit of God and the command to announce that somehow, someway we have been forgiven of our brokenness and through his resurrection, somehow we will be given life after death. (pause)

Sometimes I say that…and I don’t even want to believe myself…and yet…because of the power Holy Spirit…I do…and as I see a few of you nodding out there…or as I simply look out and see you gathered here today…it would seem that you believe it to.

This is the amazing thing about the gospel…this thing that shouldn’t make any sense…and in many cases…doesn’t make any sense…suddenly…does. We can’t explain why…we can’t explain how…and yet, just as the two men experienced but didn’t recognize until Christ was revealed to them…something about all this burns within us.

But today, here’s the takeaway.  We need to remember that not everyone gets it…not everyone knows it…and some have never heard it before. And so I pose this question…who is the stranger that needs us to tell them what happened? Who is the stranger that needs to hear the events that surround this dead messiah who somehow isn’t dead anymore?

I ask this question, because I think that when we miss those opportunities in our regular day to day lives…maybe we’re missing the presence of the Risen Lord.  Maybe we’re walking along, and our eyes are kept from realizing that God is at work right in front of us…or even that God is here with the stranger in our midst…just waiting for the opportunity to open up a whole world that we all get to be a part of.

So yah…this whole thing is pretty weird isn’t it?  But its also pretty wo

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