Travelling with companions and sharing meal-times are incredibly important occasions. Journeying short distances alone can seem tedious no matter what the comfort of your vehicle or the beauty of the scenery maybe. Solo meals can feel soulless regardless of their gourmet content.
Under current guidelines ‘Best beloved’ and I haven’t been travelling very far but we have developed a new dining habit during lockdown. We now lay the table properly in the dining room for our evening meal and lunches instead of squeezing on the end of the table in the back room, shifting papers and other assorted bits and bobs out of the way to make room for our food. Our meals have become an occasion, even the humble baked beans on toast a special event. The sort of food we are eating hasn’t changed, it is our hearts and minds that have been transformed as we appreciate with increasing gratitude the many blessings God bestows upon us. We have the companionship of one another and sufficient food in the cupboard.
These are gifts from God that we acknowledge at the beginning and end of each day and each meal, so being reminded that God is ever present with us.
In Luke’s Gospel we read today that two of Jesus followers were leaving Jerusalem when a stranger joined them as they walked along. They began talking about what had happened in the city and the astounding news that Jesus was alive. The stranger then explained how the resurrection was the fulfilment of the scriptures. The journey was transformed by this conversation, we can image how the miles of arduous walking disappeared as their hearts filled with new understanding. It isn’t surprising that the two people didn’t want the stranger to leave them, they invited the man to stay with them and eat, perhaps hoping he would say more about the meaning of the empty tomb. As bread was blessed and shared the stranger’s identity suddenly became clear and then he was gone. A simple meal reminded them that they were in the presence of the Son of God, the risen Lord, the Saviour of the world…………..
The journey that day on the road to Emmaus and the recognition of the living Lord Jesus at the breaking of the bread gave further energy and encouragement to the disciples mission. They could so easily have given up on the Jesus story, gone their separate ways and resumed their old lives back in Galilee. Our situation, brought about the coronavirus, has taken us on a journey of mutual experience as we travel the road of self-isolation and confinement. As some of the restrictions are relaxed and as we look to the months ahead how will the experience have influenced us? Will our ‘journey’ transform us, bring us closer to God and our neighbours? Will our eyes be permanently opened to the blessedness of life in a ‘first world’ country? We will see a trip to well-stocked shops-or anywhere else- as privilege? Will our meals be food for the soul as well as our stomachs? Or will we rush back to our old lives, broken bread just crumbs to be swept away, the stranger someone to be avoided or tolerated, a journey just a means of getting from one location to another?
The followers of Jesus walking to Emmaus were open to God’s transforming power even in their distress and confusion. I pray that we too may be open to God’s transforming grace in our time of uncertainty. May the joy of Easter continue to influence your life.