Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church

On The Road Again

Luke 24:13-29

Next week is the Crescent City Classic... or so my husband tells me. It's a ten-K run from the French Quarter to Audubon Park... and he insists on running in it every year! I ran in it one year. Well... actually, I walked... and I was so slow that my husband began to worry about me. He still kids me about the people who arrived at the finish line before me! Like the mothers with their baby strollers... and especially that fellow with a leg brace!

Have you taken a walk lately? I know some wise folks walk regularly... it's highly recommended... a non-stress exercise that's suppose to be good for us older folks. But still... with a set of wheels at our disposal... we have very little real reason to walk anywhere... except, maybe, to walk the dog!

But... of course, that wasn't true in Jesus' day. Walking back then was the major method of transportation. A seven mile walk to Emmaus was a journey... and people had time to talk as they walked! These days... we have to ride at least to Baton Rouge together before we really have an opportunity to have a decent conversation.

As with so many other stories in the Bible... this journey to Emmaus has taken on a symbolic meaning. We sometimes think of our lives as a journey... the passage of time... not hardly a vacation... but a trip never-the-less... down the road of life... from birth to death. On this trip to Emmaus... heading home on that bewildering day... two of Jesus' followers talked about the strange things that had happened in Jerusalem. They were filled with questions... disbelief... doubt... uncertainty. Actually... it does sound a bit... or maybe a whole lot... like our lives, doesn't it?

Like these two disciples... we have a whole lot to discuss... about the circumstances of our lives... the condition of this church... the plight of our community... the difficulties of our nation... the dilemma of our world! We also have every reason to be distressed... concerned... bewildered... uneasy...frightened... questioning... The question that comes to my mind is... what is God doing... in my life?... in this church?... in your community?... in America?... in His world?

Like most of us... these two had probably not even thought about what was happening in those terms... until the stranger joins them. Sometimes it takes the stranger among us to see things more clearly. Aren't we so engrossed in our situation that it is next to impossible to see the forest for the trees? There always seems to be a crisis of some sort in everybody's life... and it often takes all the energy we can muster to deal with it... let alone think about it on a higher plain! But... in this story... the stranger explains to them that God has been at work over the ages in bringing about this grotesque and disturbing event... and God had a purpose in what had happened to Jesus.

Perhaps you are in the middle of a very difficult... and painful life crisis. Maybe you are despondent... and there may be times when you wonder if the struggle is worth it. For some of you... that struggle is so real... so all encompassing... that it has never entered your mind to wonder what God is doing in your life. Or if you thought about God at all... it was to curse him. It's difficult to think about God... let alone approach him in prayer when our lives are falling apart at the seams.

And yet... I hasten to assure you that God is always doing something in our lives. Sometimes it is pretty dramatic... and painful stuff. Sometimes it's not so painfully evident but still extremely enlightening.

This past week... in our Breaking the Cycle of Hurtful Family Experiences... we were talking about how our relationship with our parents shapes the way we think about God. Whether that relationship was good... or painful in one way or another... our ideas and beliefs about God can be... and usually are effected.

You know... Cindy's in that group... and I've always been very impressed with the way she seems to automatically turn to God in every situation. I couldn't help but wonder why I don't do that more often. Finally... just this week... I realized that as a child I was unable to turn to my own father for help. Consequently... now it is difficult for me to turn to God for help.

You see... God is always drawing us closer to himself... and the painful experiences we all go through from time to time is part of the process! Sometimes it is excruciatingly painful... sometimes it is bewildering. Sometimes you will be discouraging... sometimes you will be very frightened. "Take heart," Jesus says. "The Lord is at work in you!" And you know what? He isn't finished with any of us yet!

Jesus said it so many times... "The Kingdom of God is at hand." The kingdom is here... and it is coming. This world is God's kingdom... he made it and he rules over it... no matter what it might look like from our vantage point in time. And God has a purpose for you... for this church... for this community... for this nation... for his world... and he is bringing it to pass.

Sometimes that's hard to believe... especially when our lives are really in the toilet... when our worship is poorly attended... when our neighborhood is plagued with crime... when our nation is bogged down in a moral morass... when our world is ravaged by war. You get the picture... and from the world's point of view... it doesn't look good.

These travelers to Emmaus couldn't see the forest for the trees... things didn't look good... they were disappointed... discouraged... frightened. And then Jesus came into their presence... and put things into perspective... from God's point of view!

You know... I can't imagine taking this journey of life without my belief in God. Now that would be truly devastating... no purpose... no hope... no source of courage... no comfort. And yet... that's the way many, many people walk through life. How truly sad! Those are the ones who need to hear the good news... that God is real... that he has a purpose... that he is working out his plan for our lives and for His world even in the most horrible situations... even when our decisions are perverse and wrong.

And there is even better news! Not only is he in command... he is also right here with us. He is walking with us down the road of life... and he will help us see more clearly what his purpose is if we allow him to join us... if we acknowledge his presence and turn to him... if we listen for his words of encouragement... comfort... and direction.

We are on the road to Emmaus... and Christ has joined us in our difficult journey. He is there for us in every situation. May the God give us the ability to see the risen Christ. Amen.

A Sermon Preached on April 11, 1999
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA

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