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Easter Evensong Reflection May 6, 2018 - The Rev. Janet Campbell
EASTER EVENSONG: The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 22:25-31; Revelation 21:1-7; Luke 24:13-35
Christ Episcopal Church
Tacoma, Washington
May 6, 2018
The Rev. Janet Campbell
The story of the journey
to Emmaus
is only one of the
intriguing stories of Easter
          we find in the gospels . . .
intriguing, beguiling stories
of how
the risen Jesus appeared
to his broken-hearted,
disciples . . .
Their three-year adventure
with Jesus
seemingly over,
come to an end,
with the violent and terrifying conclusion
          of crucifixion.

Fearing that they,
his known followers,
might be next,
they hid away in a room in Jerusalem
or headed back to the villages
          from which they had come
back to the lives they once had led . . .
But they would soon discover
that once you’ve been involved with Jesus,
you can’t hide,
you can’t go back.
Wherever they were,
in that room,
in their fishing boats,
the risen Christ
          was suddenly among them . . .
a visible, hearable, touchable, presence
oddly able to enter through looked doors,
and be in more than one place at a time.
Always unrecognizable at first,
leading to fear,
and more than one misunderstanding.

Mary Magdelene,
encountering him
in the garden of resurrection,
          thinking him the gardener.
The disciples in the upper room,
          crying out,
          “It is a ghost!”
In every case,
Jesus might simply have announced,
“Here I am.
It is I.
I have risen.”
And avoided all
the confusion.
But it seems to have been important
that the disciples themselves
          make a leap of recognition,
          admit the possibility
                   of the impossible,
          own the reality of resurrection.

And so it was
that when a traveler
joined two of Jesus’ disconsolate disciples
          on the road to the village of Emmaus.
and they thought him a stranger,
the risen Jesus
only hinted them
          toward resurrection . . .
with questions,
with the Scriptures,
and, finally, at table,
with the blessing, breaking
          and sharing of a loaf of bread.
Then they recognized him,
and leapt up from the table
to rejoin the others
          in Jerusalem.
Their lives would never be the same,
for they had become
participants in God’s new creation.

This was the experience
of all the disciples,
wherever the Risen Christ
          appeared among them . . . 
then a sudden overwhelming knowing,
an absolute conviction so strong,
          that a small group of
          demoralized, powerless
                   insignificant villagers
          started a movement
                   turned the whole world
                             upside down.
The Risen Christ enticing them
out of life-limiting narrowness,
out of fear,
out of despair,
out of hopelessness,
into the freshness, the freedom,
the spaciousness
of Easter,
into his risen life,
          into his joy.

Suddenly they became
courageous proclaimers
          of love’s gospel
in a dangerous, violent,
          un-loving world. . .
they were
healers of the sick,
protectors of the poor,
strengtheners of the weak . . .
ready to give of themselves
even to the point
of laying down their own lives,
that others might come
          to the knowledge and love of Jesus,
          to the place of healing and wholeness,
          to the place of love,
          to Easter life in Christ.
It is because of them,
and the countless daring and faithful ones
          who followed them,
that we also are
caught up in God’s new creation
          begun in Christ’s dying and rising,
          constantly growing
                    in the power of the Spirit . . .

constantly increasing,
          visibly and invisibly,
coming into being
among us, all around us,
even now,
          this very minute.
Even now,
when it is hard not to despair
at the sorry state of
the poor, embattled world,
the degraded, hurting environment, 
our wounded nation,
          so many struggling people,
          so much injustice,
          so much suffering.
Even now,
when every day
seems to reveal
          some new outrage,
          some new disgrace,
          some new wound,
          some new instance
          of the same old and terrible cruelties . . .
Even now . . .

For God’s new Creation,
which Jesus called the Kingdom of God,
is like the slow flowering of springtime,
now coming to its gorgeous fullness,  
a flowering
that has been in secret preparation
all the dreary, rainy winter long.
Seeds and bulbs,
bugs, beetles and worms
sleeping in the fertile soil
          of God’s good earth,
sap in stalks and trees
          stilled by chill days and nights,
animals gone to ground
          in dens and caves,
but the stillness is deceiving,
for new life
stirs and awakens
          as days grow longer, warmer,
new life breaking through,
rising up,
into the lengthening light
and growing warmth
          of spring.

The Risen Christ is
among and within us
          even now.
Often not easily perceived,
easily recognized . . .
waiting for us
to make the leap of recognition,
          admit the possibility
                   of the impossible,
          own the reality . . .
                   of resurrection.
And allow it to do its work on us.
Who would want, then,
to go return to the old life?
Once you have met the Risen Christ
there is no going back to Emmaus.