This year, our readings from the Gospel on Sundays come from St Luke, and so it is from St Luke that we are given much of our scripture this year for Holy Week and Eastertide.
One of the greatest moments in St Luke’s Gospel is the account of the journey to Emmaus. It comes in the final chapter, and we read it in Church in the days after Easter. We recall the story: Two downcast disciples are walking the six or seven miles from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus on that first Easter Day when an unknown stranger falls into step alongside them. They tell their story, He tells His, and at Emmaus they press Him to stay with them. They have supper, He takes and blesses bread, and they recognise Him! He vanishes, and they hurry back to Jerusalem, sharing with the other disciples the experience of encountering the risen Christ.
We can barely imagine the excitement and the joy of that wonderful day. I am also struck (and am grateful here to others who have pointed this out) by just how ‘liturgical’ an episode this is. It begins with a gathering, followed by the sadness of a story of failure, just as we confess our sins in the opening part of the eucharist; then comes the ‘liturgy of the word’, as the Lord takes them through the scriptures; after that, they beseech Him to stay with them, as we do in our prayers of intercession; then comes the taking and sharing of the bread, in which they recognise Him; and finally they are dismissed back out into the world. That sounds familiar! That’s what we do every Sunday at our parish communion or eucharist.
So my Easter message is simply this: Never let the joy fade. Never let the mystery evaporate. Never let familiarity take away the sheer wonder of being with the risen Christ. Because that is where we are, you and me, every time we come to the altar of the Lord and receive Him in the holy consecrated elements of the communion. Where we gather as the Lord’s people, He is there in our midst. Where He is, there is risen life. And where there is risen life, there is new hope. My prayer is that this hope and joy may be yours this Easter, and that it may flow so richly through the Lord’s Church that it flows outward into His world.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!