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April 30, 2017, 7:10 AM

Keep Up the Good Work Part 2

by Sandy Bach

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.[b] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[c] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.[d] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[e] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us[f] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.  (Luke 24:13-35 NRSV)

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.

Cleopas and his unnamed companion were thunderstruck at Jesus’ question.

“So, what’s going on?” Jesus asks them. “What are you discussing?”
“Really?” they respond. “You have to ask? Where have you been hiding out?”

Ask a silly question…
Or is it?

When have you been asked a simple question that led to serious, even helpful, conversation? Ask the recently widowed how they’re doing seems a ludicrous question. You know the answer, already. They’re doing pretty awful. But, the question is meant to open up the conversation; to say that you care enough to ask and that you may even be willing to listen.

Jesus asks them a question to open up the conversation. Their answer is telling:
Not, “Our hero is dead. Poor us.”
Not an expression of uncontrolled anger.

Rather, they make a statement of faith:
Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed before God and all the people;
he was arrested, tried, convicted, and was crucified.
This is the third day and word is out that he’s risen.

And with that answer, Jesus knows where to meet them and he begins to interpret their faith statement in light of scripture. Jesus “came near and went with them.” When have you come near and gone with someone?

Chuck McCarthy doesn’t walk dogs. He walks people. In an article posted at “TheGuardian.com” author Rory Carroll writes that Chuck is trying to make a few extra dollars while he gets his acting career off the ground. He advertises to walk with people. He says it takes an ability to “walk, talk and, above all, listen.”

He charges $7.00 a mile. He has homemade flyers attached to lamp posts that read the following:

“Need motivation to walk? Scared to walk alone at night? Don’t like walking alone at all? Don’t want people to see you walking alone and just assume you have no friends? Don’t like listening to music or podcasts but can’t walk alone in silence, forced to face thoughts of the unknown future, or your own insignificance in the ever expanding universe?” (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/14/los-angeles-people-walker-chuck-mccarthy)

Chuck McCarthy walks and listens. He says it’s mostly surface conversation, nothing all that deep. Still, it can be therapeutic. People are slipping their smart phones in their pockets and going for a walk AND talking. They’re engaging in real conversation.

Ask a silly question, you may end up in a deeply satisfying conversation that touches your very soul.

On the other hand, asking a silly question may build a bridge.

Let’s go back to Jesus’ question.

“So, what’s going on? What are you discussing?”

In addition to an Affirmation of Faith, they provide a clue to how they’re feeling:
“But, we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”  The disappointment drips off the page.
“Some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning… they reported back to us about a vision of angels who said that he was alive.”  Their confusion runs deep.

Jesus knows where they are and knows where to take the conversation.

As Jesus talked with them, their hearts burned within them. This so-called stranger who joined them out of nowhere opened their minds and hearts to a new way of thinking. He connected with their disappointment. He linked scripture to the occurrences of the past few years.

Most of all he gave them hope.

This wasn’t the end. It was the beginning.

God hadn’t died. God wasn’t deserting them.

So, good for you…
When you stop in your tracks to listen. Really listen.

Good for you…
When you share a bit of yourself because someone needs a good word.

Good for you…
When you use your words to build a bridge instead of a wall.

Good for you…
When you ask a silly question that leads to healing conversation.

Keep up the good work. Because you’re traveling the Way of Jesus.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.

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