The Exhortation Given by Jill during an Ecumenical Service on Easter Evening in the Chartres Cathedral (Voir en bas pour l’exhortation originelle en français.)
Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed!)
Christ is truly with us, but like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we don’t see Him. Like them, we are unaware that our hearts, burning within us with the joy of the resurrection, are a sign of His presence.
In our gospel reading we heard about the two disciples who were discussing the crucifixion of Jesus, the disappearance of his body, and their despair. It was a normal way of trying to come to grips with what had happened. As they they were walking along, without being invited or recognized, Christ joined them.
Taking initiative, walking and talking with his disciples, caring about their woundedness, this was exactly how they had experienced Jesus. But these two grieving disciples, even when Jesus was right in front of them, couldn’t see that it was him.
That didn’t bother Jesus. He found a way to engage them where they were.
The disciples were happy to listen to the teaching of their traveling companion, and eventually invited him to stay with them overnight. Jesus, who was still not recognized for who he was, agreed. He made himself known in a very concrete way as he broke the bread. As soon as they recognized that it was Jesus who had been with them, they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Disciples who don’t understand what God is doing. Disciples that walk with Christ but don’t see him with them. Disciples who are engaged and taught by God but don’t recognize God’s presence. Disciples who want to discuss their faith. Disciples that God helps to perceive God’s working among them. This describes Cleopas and the other disciple. It also describes us.
The Risen Christ is with us tonight. God wants to be present in our lives and among us as we meet to worship. It is God’s deep desire to help us understand more about Christ, and to have more faith.
Christ is risen! Can you feel the joy of his resurrection in your body? Put your hand over your heart and keep it there. Notice what the joy feels like inside of you. (Silence.) This joy you are experiencing is one of the gifts God shares to help us recognize His presence.
When the two disciples realized that Jesus had been with them, and understood that he was alive and not dead as they had thought, they went to find the other disciples and to share the good news with them. Tonight, on this Easter Evening, it is up to us, Jesus’ modern-day disciples who have recognized his presence with us in our bodies, to share the joy of Christ’s resurrection with others.
May the Risen Christ give us the assurance of his presence with us and inspire us to share it with others. (Amen.)
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 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?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 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. 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.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 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)
Invitation To Pray:
Put your hand on your heart and keep it there. Sense the joy of Christ’s resurrection. What prayers are emerging in your body, mind, heart, and imagination? Pray them now.
Photos: Images of the disciples on the road to Emmaus with Jesus found in the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Other posts in this series:
Holy Week in Chartres (1): Palm Sunday
Holy Week in Chartres (2): Mary Prepares Jesus for His Death
Holy Week in Chartres (3): The Blessing of the Oils
Holy Week in Chartres (4): Jesus’ Last Meal with His Disciples
Holy Week in Chartres (5): Jesus on the Cross
Holy Week in Chartres (6): Holy Saturday
Holy Week in Chartres (7): Christ is Risen!
The original version of this exhortation:
Chers frères et sœurs, Christ est ressuscité ! (Il est vraiment ressuscité !)
Le Christ est vraiment avec nous, mais comme les disciples sur le chemin d’Emmaüs nous ne le voyons pas. Comme eux, nous ne nous rendons pas compte que nos cœurs qui brulent avec la joie de sa résurrection témoignent qu’il est ici avec nous.
Les deux disciples étaient en train de marcher et de discuter la crucifixion de Jésus, la disparition de son corps, et leur désespoir. C’était une manière normale de chercher le sens inattendu de ce qu’ils ont vécu. Et pendant cet échange, sans être invité, sans être reconnu, Le Christ les a rejoint. « Il a fit route avec eux. »
Dieu qui s’approche, Dieu qui marche avec avec ses disciples, Dieu qui prend soin de toute sorte de blessures, c’est exactement comment Jésus s’était présenté pendant sa vie. Mais ces deux disciples en deuil, même en face de Jésus, n’ont pas compris que c’était lui.
Jésus n’était pas troublé par leur ignorance. Il leur a parlé en vérité.
De leur côté les disciples ont entendu l’enseignement du voyageur, et finalement ils l’ont invité de rester avec eux. Jésus, toujours pas reconnu, a accepté. Il a choisi de se dévoiler dans un geste très corporal, en rompant le pain. Après avoir reconnu Jésus ces deux disciples ont dit, « N’y avait-il pas comme un feu qui brûlait au-dedans de nous quand il nous parlait en chemin et nous expliquait les Écritures ? »
Disciples qui ne comprennent pas ce que Dieu a fait. Disciples qui marchent avec Christ, mais ne le voient pas. Disciples qui ont étaient approchés et enseignés par le Christ sans se rendre compte de sa présence. Disciples qui sont contents de discuter de leur foi. Disciples que Dieu aide à apprécier sa présence. Voici Cléopas et l’autre disciple. Et nous voici aussi.
Christ nous a déjà rejoint. Sa présence dans nos vies et ici vient de son choix, et il veut nous donner plus de compréhension, plus de foi, et plus de reconnaissance. Christ est ressuscité—vraiment ressuscité ! Est ce que vous pouvez être conscient de la joie de la résurrection qui habite votre corps ce soir ? Si oui, mettez votre main sur votre poitrine, sur votre cœur [Jill fait le geste et laisse les mains] et appréciez là ! C’est un des dons de Dieu pour nous rassurer qu’il est ici présent en nous.
Quand les deux disciples ont vu que c’était Jésus, et quand ils ont compris qu’il était vivant, ils sont repartis vers les autres pour les assurer que Le Ressuscité n’était plus mort. Ce soir de Pâques, c’est à nous, des disciples d ’aujourd’hui qui avons été rencontrés par le Christ et qui le ressentons dans nos corps de parler de la joie de la résurrection avec les autres.
Que Christ Ressuscité nous donne la conscience de sa présence et nous inspire de la partager avec les autres. (Amen)