The story of the road to Emmaus (ah-may-us) is told in the gospel of Luke chapter 24:13-35.
Two disciples (Cleopos and perhaps his wife Mary) are grieving – their hopes for liberation crushed. They are not ready to believe their friends that Jesus may be alive and so walk the road to home sharing the burden of their pain. On the way they encounter someone who starts to chip away at the door to their sorrow, their disillusionment, and their fear – and opens the scripture in a way that leaves there hearts aflame. They open their home fully to this stranger and invite him to their table – and in that action, in the sharing of conversation and breaking bread together their eyes are opened to who he is and to his answer of hope. They learn that not even the death of a friend, injustice, the deep seed of loneliness or the many places of exclusion that still exist can withstand the power of the Resurrection and the hope that bursts forth with the incredible mystery of Christ’s presence with us.
It is in the welcome of a stranger that Christ is made known. In that kind of upside down hospitality that moves beyond charity into mutuality and openness to transformation.
Jim Forest shares that at the heart of the Emmaus story is the stranger: “What happened on the road to Emmaus, and finally in Emmaus itself, was the first Christian pilgrimage. Every pilgrimage, whether to a local park or to some distant place at the end of a well-trodden pilgrim path thick with miracles, is in its roots a journey to Emmaus, and every pilgrimage is animated with a similar hope: to meet the risen Christ along the way.
In the Gospel, the power of that ‘post-Resurrection’ experience flowed into a life where the early Jesus-movement (see Acts 2) lived a life where they shared all in common, gave any excess to those in need, broke bread together and went daily to prayer in the temple.
The Emmaus story is rich with images of community life. It has elements of pilgrimage, of shared meals and conversations, of sorrow and joy, of the opening up one’s home to the stranger, of the study of ancient scripture – and of passionate ‘burning hearts’.
Overall, it contains a vivid picture of life ‘on the way’ – walking alongside the resurrected Christ.
It’s for all of this that we call our community ‘Emmaus’ and invite you into that journey with us.