Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
I was walking down the beach the other day with a friend lamenting the fact that eating and drinking is such a huge part of communal activity here that it makes it difficult to maintain any kind of diet apart from rice, beans, and juice. Most people commune over food and find the feasting to be an intimate activity of sharing in nourishment of the body. I learned in my culinary education that dining is an activity that brings people together and is better enjoyed in the company of others. This reflection on dining made me think of other communal activities that we practice and I recalled one even more intimate, that being walking. I had been processing this thought for a bit and it was solidified as I recently watched a movie called “The Way.” It is a movie about a man who takes a pilgrimage on "El Camino de Santiago." It reminded me of the walks I have been on and walks I hope to go on. I recalled walks with my mother all through high school, I recall many “Concordia walks” in Seward, and walks around the Fort Wayne Seminary campus with friends. I remember distinctly a ten mile journey from Deal to Dover, and walking around the train station in Germany passing the night away to catch the bus in the morning. There were too many walks in Cambridge to count, and many walks about in other parts of Europe. Those are precious journeys I treasure and wish I could easily return to. The point is, I’m afraid that in the past I have not recognized the journey to be of equal importance to feasting. The journey often ends with a feast to recall and rejoice in the journey. After long walks and good conversation, the meal became more than just an intimate sharing of food. It was a working together to create and bring forth food that represented the efforts of our journey and now would be used to the nourishment of our bodies.
The Road to Emmaus was a lot like this. It was a journey of tears, wonder, confusion, discussion and maybe even fear. The disciples walked seven miles trying to make sense of everything that had happened and would happen with the present knowledge or wonder of Christ’s resurrection. They even took on one who they thought was a fellow pilgrim to walk with them to the nearest lodging for the night. They took a walk in the early part of the evening as the sun began to go down. What they had at the end was not a feast but perhaps more so a vision of the feast to come. They had meager offerings of just bread, or perhaps that was the only thing that needed to be mentioned in the text. What happened was the bread sustained them for a seven mile run. The bread opened their eyes, their hearts burnt within them and they knew more than they knew before. Their walking turned to running, their fear setting like the sun turned to a light that fearlessly carried them on a nightly journey. The journey became necessary driven by purpose and the road became shorter. They knew the joy of their Savior alive, whole and well through the breaking of the bread. It doesn’t take much bread and wine to have table fellowship, but it does take a bit more to understand what makes that fellowship so important. It takes walking with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and sharing in their sorrows and woes to the point of becoming one through an intimate sharing of a meal. The meager offerings of bread and wine are so much more when we know what is being offered. The meal becomes a feast and we run to the table together with the understanding of where we are all coming from and that we all become one in the journey through the eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood. Even today, God meets us and walks with us on the way, providing all we need along the way.
Happy Easter everybody, and I pray that you know God's presence and the presence of those he has placed in your life along the way. I remember you all as I go to the table of our Lord and feast on his body and blood.