Posted on Apr 23, 2020

26 APRIL 2020

The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus has always intrigued me.

Two things about this story.

First these two disciples had given up on two things—Jesus and the community.

They decided to leave.

Second, once the disciples leave it is very hard for them to come back—to recognize

Jesus again.

The problem for so many of us is that it is easy to leave—the church, our relationships, families,

And it is very hard often times to come back.

When I was the pastor at Newman is received a letter one day from someone I never knew.

This person had given up on the Lord and the church a long time before writing.

The person didn’t say, why he or she left. 

For twenty years the person has stayed away from any kind of prayer, and the church.

But for the previous year he or she had a strange “craving”–that’s the word he or she used, to come back to somehow reestablish a connection with the Lord.

Over the past year that person has been coming back somewhat irregularly to Newman.

In the letter, he or she said:  “I want to thank you for being there even though I won’t be coming to your church anymore.  I”ve gone too far away and that makes me very sad.  Why didn’t anyone tell me how much I would lose by leaving?  I lost the possibility of believing.

Then the person continued:  “I don’t blame anyone really.  No one in the church could have told me anything back then which could have made a difference.  But maybe my story will make a difference for someone else.  Please tell it.”

Two points:

1)  I never want to pretend that this community, the church, is perfect–anymore than we can look at the disciples immediately following the crucifixion and call them our perfect model.  But there is something here which we can lose if we leave.  Which we are losing even now during this pandemic. I’m not exactly sure what that is.  It may be beyond words and it may be only the “possibility” of believing.  It may be as the disciples called it “heart burn.”  Or, as the person who wrote me said, a “craving” for the Lord which is kept alive here in us.

2)  The two disciples left the community too soon.  If they had stayed another 24 hours, we wouldn’t have this story.  The hardest part for all of us in this community, will be waiting–waiting beyond our disappointments with each other and our pain .  The hardest part of belonging to this community or the church is not giving up on each other and the Lord.