I remember where I was. I remember that I had just finished a test in my German Language class in college. I remember walking through the halls of the fine arts building at Missouri Western State College and seeing all of my friends and the staff and faculty of the music department standing around in an almost complete daze. I remember professors trying to still teach their classes even with everyone's minds someplace else. I remember the rumors. I remember the conjecture that it had to be this or it had to be that. I remember the marching band field that afternoon completely devoid of air traffic in the skies. I remember my friends lashing out in anger, vowing revenge. I remember sitting in my best friend's dorm room watching the
New York City skyline
smoke and smolder with a headache from staring at the screen in the dark. I remember that day, and I'm sure that most
of you here today remember that day very clearly as well.
All throughout our history, our lives get punctuated by single, large events that forever shape how we live out our lives into the future. For some people, it was that day
Pearl Harbor was attacked. For other people, it was the day John F.
Kennedy was assassinated in Texas
while riding in his motorcade. For yet
still others, it was the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Yet the common thread throughout those days
is terribly tragic nature of those days.
The common thread is how we remember how we and other people hurt upon
hearing that terrible news. We remember
things like how violent it was. We
remember things like how much destruction there was. We remember how many lives were lost. In short, we remember how those days live on
"in infamy." Memphis, TN.
Now consider these two disciples as they were walking down a road to the town where they were staying. They too were trying to come to grips with these days that they just experienced - these days that will live on forever in their minds "in infamy." I don't even have to conjecture much as to what was on their minds on that journey. They are "talking with each other about all these things that had happened." In case you haven't been paying attention the past two weeks, they have been discussing and talking about the betrayal, execution, and disappearance of their master, teacher, and friend Jesus. These things are weighing heavily on their minds, and the events of those few days will mark a change in how they will live their life from that point on forward. The only thing is, they just might be living those days out in different ways than they were expecting.
They are in the midst of remembrance though. They are in the midst of remembering the tragedy and mystery that had entered into their life. Yet, little do they know that they are also in an act of forgetting. They remember the things they have experienced. They have forgotten the promise that had been proclaimed to them. And while they are busy remembering, yet forgetting, they are also too bust to see that that very same master, teacher, and friend had joined them on their journey. They can't see or won't see what is right before them. So Jesus explains to them yet again what he has come on earth to do. He explains that the Messiah was meant to "suffer these things and enter into his glory." He tells them again about God's love and forgiveness that given to the whole of creation as he gave up his life so that we might see upon that cross how he gave up his life so that we may the rise with him into new life. He tells them about how the life he brings bursts forth from the grave, that death has indeed lost its sting. Yet in all of this, these two disciples still don't recognize who is before them. They still don't recognize who is setting their hearts on fire.
Yet that's when Jesus reminds them of a great gift that had been given to them. They sit down for a meal, and Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. And in the breaking of that bread, their eyes are opened, and they see and remember who this Jesus is. They remember the goodness he brought them in their lives. They remember the love that he had shown them. They remember how, even in the midst of all the tragedy of the past few days, that the Gospel message (literally the Good News!) had been fulfilled. They are forgiven. They are freed from fear of sin and death. They can go forth living their life with boldness! Jesus is alive, and life has begun anew amidst all that tragedy and confusion.
My guess is that we too forget the great and wonderful grace that God has given us, especially in times of loss, grief, and fear. My guess is that we sometimes forget that Jesus is indeed already present with us. My guess is that we at times dwell on the bad news so heavily that we sometimes forget the Good News that has been accomplished in our midst. We too are a people that need to come to the table and to have our eyes opened in the breaking of the bread. We too are a people who need to touch, smell, and even taste that Christ is indeed with us, that we have not been abandoned, and that God's tremendous has ultimately won the day.
The Christian life is not one that is lived out in perfect obedience to God's commands. The Christian life is lived coming again and again back to God's good grace and hearing that we are indeed forgiven and freed to finally stop worrying about ourselves and finally start loving and caring for others as they too are a people that God loves dearly. Come and receive that grace yet again. Have faith at the foot of the cross that God's love has indeed won the day. Taste and see and remember that God is indeed good.