Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:13- 35
"Remember who you are"
Many years ago my family and I attended an Institute for Renewal at Luther College, one of the morning speakers was Dr. William Willimon who is a pastor and a professor at a southern seminary. During his talks, which were always good, he mentioned something his mother always told him when he was leaving home for a date, or to go to a party, or out with the boys, or to meet a group of people to find something to do, she said,"Will, don’t forget who you are." What did Dr. Willimon’s mother mean by that phrase? Surely, she didn’t think her son would forget his name, or where he lived, or who, his parents were? Hardly, she was reminding him that alone on a date, in the midst of some party, or in the presence of some strangers, or fooling around with a group of boys, he might forget who he was. She knew he might in a moment of fun, under pressure of his peers, in an effort to be accepted and approved by the group, he might forget who he was. He might forget the values, the priorities, the faith, the discipline, the love, the acceptance that he had received from his parents and from his God. She knew he might be persuaded to take on a another name, to add to his identity by doing something in a moment that he might regret later, so she told her son whenever he left the house, "Will, remember who you are"
Our gospel lesson this morning focuses upon two disciple of Jesus who could have appreciated Mrs. Willimon’s advice or admonishment to her son, remember who you ore. These two disciples of Jesus, were walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem on the evening of the first Easter. They were walking slowly, heads hung low, hearts heavy with grief, the dreams for their future hanging on a cross on the garbage heap of Jerusalem, They were headed back home to the dull, work a day world that Jesus had called them from when He asked them to join his ministry. They were heading home, talking, thinking, recalling the past, thinking about the glory, the majesty, the joy, the excitement of being with Jesus for those years. Recalling each moment, living in the fond memories of yesterday, for the reality of today was much too difficult, much too painful, much to harsh for them to bear.
"These men were like a golfer in the following story. ’A pastor tells the story about a golf game he an another pastor had one Monday afternoon. We were approaching the tenth tee, when a single golfer approached and asked if he could play through. They said yes, since they were in no hurry. He had all the appearance of a Monday morning Jack Nicklaus. He had more clubs in his bag than the pastors knew even existed.
He was all business. He approached the tee with a determined look and air about him as if he would hit the ball a mile. He swung and hit the ball, but at a 90 degree slice. The ball socked into a tree branch at the far right of the tee and bounced back in the direction of the pastors, landing some ten yards behind this Mr. Golfing Whiz. He glanced at us with a startled look as he faced the reality of his poor shot and said, "You should have been here yesterday!! I hit a drive off this tee at least 200 yards straight down the fairway, I cannot figure this out .... you should have been here yesterday.’
As the stranger approached and walked With the two disciples headed for Emmaus, they were caught up in the excitement, the joy, the majesty of yesterday, as they told him of the facts concerning Jesus. But when they came to the report of the women that Jesus had risen as he had promised, this, the reality of today was something they could not accept. It was like the sliced golf ball which landed 10 yards behind the golfer, something he wanted to forget about as he eagerly reported what had happened yesterday "You should have been here yesterday."
These two disciples had also forgotten who they were, disciples of Jesus, followers of the one who claimed to be the Messiah, listeners of the one who said after three days he would rise again. They had been so caught up in their grief, the sorrow, the pain, of Good Friday, that they forgot who they were, they forgot what Jesus had promised, they had abandoned all the hopes, the dreams, the promises of Jesus as they walked home, living in the past, thinking about the glory of yesterday and not applying that to the reality of today.
They were walking away from the mission Jesus had called them, to, the task he had selected them for, the worthiness he had given them by accepting them as they were and helping them become God’s children in the fullest sense, they did not remember who they were.
After they had emptied their hearts of their tale woe, this stranger, took the scriptures they knew, took the very same scripture Jesus had taught them and explained all about the Messiah. The Messiah who would suffer, but also, the Messiah who would conquer, who would be raised, so that the glory of the Father might be revealed through him. When they approached the inn, they begged the stranger to stay and eat and continue to talk with them.
As they sit down at the table, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to these disciples, then they knew who He was, through the breaking of bread, through the giving of his body, and the pouring of his blood, Jesus revealed himself to these followers. They remember who they were, and raced back to tell the others.
We do not know who these disciples were. They probably were not of the 12, but some of the other men and women who followed Jesus. They were heading home from Jerusalem, they were probably there when Jesus died on the cross, and just now found the courage to head home.
They left the community. That is important. They did not stick around with the other men and women, they left. Do they remind you of someone, Thomas?
He left and missed Jesus, these men left and missed what the disciples, the 12 learned, that Jesus had indeed risen.
I think that one thing we can learn from last week’s lesson and this lesson is that it is important to stay in the community of Christ.
Harry Emerson Fosdick was a great preacher of yesterday, and one of his great books, Dear Mr. Brown has a conversation in it where Harry talks with Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown had heard a sermon preached by Fosdick in which Fosdick had held a ticket in his hand which had a stub attached to it. The stub would, of course, be removed at the time the ticket was used, However, there was a warning printed on the stub Not good if detached.
Then Fosdick said that as Christians people we represent the stub and the ticket represents the church and stamped on each of us through the mark of our baptism, Not good if detached.
Meaning your life and my life is not quite as good if we become detached from the church, from the body of Christ. Remembering who you are involves remaining attached to the body of Christ. For I firmly believe,that it is through a relationship with the church, with all of its faults, with all of its biases, with all of its short comings, a relationship with the church is still a life giving and life fulfilling attachment.
For it is here in God’s house where you will his promises to you, it is here in God’s house where you will come into contact with him through the word and through the sacraments. It is here in God’s house through people of faith where you will receive encouragement, strength, caring, love and forgiveness from others as you struggle with faith and life.
The church may not be the most perfect institution on earth, but don’t sell it short, because I believe it is the only institution where you can come to experience the presence of almighty God in a real and exciting way.
One of my seminary professors put it this way, "God is a God who is everywhere, but he has to be somewhere and that somewhere he promises to be is here in the church."
Remember who you are, a disciple of Christ, a member of the body of Christ the church.
Written by Pastor Tim Zingale