Where Is the One We Seek: Third Week

May 4th, 2014 Posted in writing

It’s common to describe life as a tale, and the gospel for this week is about how we find Jesus remaking stories and hopes.

Two travelers set out from Jerusalem on the first Easter, having seen their hopes and expectations vanish with the death of Jesus. The story of their lives might continue; but, without Jesus, it wouldn’t be the one they’d hoped for. Suddenly a stranger appeared: Jesus, whom they did not recognize. They talked with him about all that had happened in Jerusalem and about how their hopes had been dashed.

But the stranger would not accept their version of what had taken place and what it meant. Through the Scriptures, he opened up a new way of interpreting what they had experienced, letting them see it as a story not of failure and defeat, but of fulfillment and salvation.

The travelers found their hopes reviving until, seated at dinner with their strange companion, they recognized that, in fact, the stranger was Jesus himself. He disappeared from their sight then, but full of joy, they ran back to Jerusalem to tell the news to their friends, finding that they, too, had encountered the risen Christ that very day.

What’s the meaning for us? We all have stories or narratives that we use to make sense of how our lives hold together. So, if someone says, “tell me who you are,” we’ll probably find ourselves telling a story of how our lives have played out. And, if we have too often experienced significant disappointments or tragedies, we may describe our life story as one of sadness and loss.

But if that is the case, then just as he did with the two travelers, Jesus sets before us another story to give our lives energy and purpose. It is the story of his own life, death, and rising. It is the story of grace defeating sin, of forgiveness overcoming hatred, of faithfulness being stronger than fear, of God’s aims working themselves out despite appearances to the contrary. He offers us his own story and shares his own life with us so that we may be people of thankfulness and hope — and so that the stories of our lives can, ultimately, be like his: stories of grace and blessing.

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