Meditation on Luke 24:13-35
Here is an audio file of Pastor Karen’s meditation:
I hope you all are well and staying safe, and staying home as much as possible, except when you are outside gardening, birdwatching, or walking in the nice weather we are having. I look forward to more walks as the weather warms up.
This week, I learned of a good friend and sister in Christ testing positive for COVID-19. She was a longtime youth leader who introduced me to the wonderful Montreat Youth Conference in Montreat, NC. She is near my age, a little younger perhaps. She is still staying positive and has been self-isolating for weeks at home. So far, she doesn’t have any symptoms. We pray that her health will remain strong and that she and her family would feel Christ’s comforting presence throughout this anxious time.
The other news that brought the seriousness of the virus home to me and inspired me to even greater passion for serving the Lord was learning of the death of a female pastor in Louisiana from COVID-19. She was 56.
Robbin Hardy ran the Faith, Hope and Love Worship Center in East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes, along with her husband and children. She touched countless lives inside and outside the church through the many ministries to which she devoted her life. Friday, March 27 was the last time her husband, Ronald Sr., was able to speak with her. She was rushed to the hospital and put on a ventilator after experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms for about a week. It was a grueling 11 days of waiting and praying for her family, not being able to visit her and relying on only 3 reports from the hospital each day. She died on April 6, without her family having the opportunity to say goodbye.
In addition to serving as a pastor at the church, Robbin founded an organization to mentor young girls through faith called Girls Enrichment Mentorship Services or GEMS.
“She had over one thousand girls in the GEMS program and she was having such an impact,” Ronald says. “When she saw struggles or anxiety … with young women, her goal was to lift them.”
Her family say that the legacy of life, leadership and love will be carried on through the work she started and her words of encouragement. Her family recalls her last sermon to her church just before it closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. She told her congregation, “Do not be afraid.”
Ronald says, “And I think those words still need to ring out.”
The two disciples leaving Jerusalem on the day of Christ’s Resurrection are in for a big surprise as they take a 7-mile walk with the Risen Lord, without knowing his identity. Their destination is a village called Emmaus, only mentioned in the gospel of Luke, it’s exact location unknown. But it could be any town; the point is that it is not far from Jerusalem and they are walking AWAY from the place where their faith was tried and tested.
These two aren’t part of the original 12. One is Cleopas, a Greek name meaning, “glory of the father.” This is the only time we run into Cleopas in the Bible. The other disciple doesn’t have a name—and could be male or female, possibly even his wife as they go to the same home. Naming one and not the other helps us to imagine ourselves walking this journey with another brother or sister in the Lord.
What do they talk about as they walk? Verse 14, “All these things that had happened.” The crucifixion and the discovery of the empty tomb that morning. During this serious conversation, Jesus comes near to them—kind of sneaks up on them—and then goes with them. I can’t help but think of Jesus saying in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I among them.” Here he is an uninvited guest, perhaps unwanted, at first, for Cleopas shows some attitude when Jesus asks, “What things?” Cleopas answers, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”
He and the other follower are struggling to make sense of the report of the women in their group who said that the body was gone and saw what Cleopas interprets as a vision of angels, proclaiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead. He reveals his belief that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah, since he was crucified, when he tells the Risen Lord, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
Jesus doesn’t take offense or leave them in ignorance and confusion. He begins to teach them about himself from the writings of Moses and the prophets and show them how the Messiah’s suffering, dying, and entering into God’s glory had always been part of God’s plan.
Somewhere along that 7-mile walk, understanding dawns for the disciples—Cleopas and the unnamed one, for you and me. The cloud of grief and unbelief begins to lift. It’s evening when they arrive at Emmaus. Those who still don’t know the identity of their wise teacher beg him to stay. And our Lord, who just that morning rose from the grave and who has been walking with them all day, grants them more time and the gift of illumination. Joining them for a meal, their eyes are opened and they recognize him, recalling their last meal together, when he “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Then our Lord disappears, and the two disciples realize that their hearts had been “burning” when he was opening the Scriptures to them. For he truly is the Living Word. They eagerly return to Jerusalem that same night—another 7 miles– and are greeted by the other disciples who say, “He is risen, indeed!” They can’t wait to tell them what happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Friends, let us continue to share the gospel of peace, encouraging one another to hope in the Lord and to not be afraid, as Robbin Hardy preached in her last sermon to her church in Louisiana.
The Hardy family says hers is not a story of defeat; it’s a story of victory. Their faith assures them that Robbin, who has died in Christ, is healed and raised to new and eternal life with her Redeemer. Her story serves to underscore the importance of our ministry, especially now. We have the words of life to share with our community and world. And whether or not we are gathering in a building, the words of life will go out through the stories we tell to as few as one or two people at a time.
You and I can expect to see more glimpses of our Risen Savior as we persevere in prayer, hope, and faith. He comes to us when we seek Him and offers us his joy that is our strength. He also pursues us when may have tried to walk away in despair, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Christ our Lord is risen, indeed! He is with us now. He will be with us again when we join together for virtual worship and celebrate Communion next week. As we come to the Lord’s Table in faith, Christ will make himself known to us in the breaking of the bread.
Let us pray.
Holy One, thank you for your great love and mercy, that you answer when we call and reveal yourself to us when we seek you. Draw us nearer to you now and help us to be obedient to your will. Thank you for forgiving us when we wander away and for pursuing us and guiding us back to you. Thank you for making it possible for ministry to continue to touch hearts and lives, though we are not able to safely gather in one place right now. We pray for peace and healing for our world, dear Lord. Make yourself known to those who are fighting the virus and other serious illnesses. Protect those on the front lines, caring for the sick. Lord, give us hearts that “burn” with your joy that is our strength and remind us of your loving presence with us always. May we see glimpses of you that encourage us every day. In the name of the Risen Christ we pray. Amen.
For more about Pastor Robbin’s story: