Along the Emmaus Road

 

This is a summary of the April 23rd  gathering of  By the Way
an emerging faith community in Nashua, NH…
As you enter the dimly lit room you notice there is a big round table in the center of the room. People are gathered at the table engaging in quiet conversation. There is a beautiful cloth covering the table, a round loaf of rustic crusty bread, and a single candle. Someone notes that it is much like sitting around a comfortable kitchen table.

The candle is lit, the evening’s roadmap reviewed and prayer is offered. The group gets out of their seats and gathers in a corner of the room. Scripts are distributed and the group reads the Emmaus Road story adapted from The Message while walking around the room. The candle flickers on the table in the center of the room much as the setting sun did in the story.

The group sits around the table again where the smell of the freshly baked bread fills the air and prayer is offered: Stay with us for it is evening and the day is almost over. Thank you for revealing yourself through the Word and the breaking of the bread. Make known your walking with us each day and feed us to sustain our journey. Amen.

“On the Road” a short poetic reflection of Luke 24 by George Slanger from Theology Today, January 2003 is read by one of the travelers at the table. Following the reading a prayer is offered: During the long and lonely walks in our lives that seem filled with sorrow and doubt, you are there. During times of hurt which seem difficult and confusing to bear, you are there. Open us to the strangers among us who may be hungry, who may need to be invited, who may be the face of Jesus. Open us to you, the One who can make the deepest loneliness and the longest journey full of purpose and hope. Amen.

Another traveler reads “Emmaus” by Rowan Williams from Connexions. Responses to the cadence and imagery in the poem are shared and prayer is offered: Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The travelers gathered around the table share a time of reflection and refreshment. The breaking open of the crusty loaf makes the sound of low rumbling thunder and it is passed around the table for all to eat. Cool water is poured for each person, the sound of clanking ice cubes and pouring water reminiscent of pebbles dropped into a pond. An Emmaus image (above) by Chinese Christian artist He Qi is reflected on. A reflection is shared and questions discussed (and taken away) as food for thought for our ongoing journeys…

  • Who do you share your journey with? Who are you not inviting to join you along the way?
  • What distracts you in your daily routine and in your longer journeys? What “feeds” you along the way… in your work, in your relationships, in your faith?
  • Where do you find spiritual connections or encounters along the way? Where do (or could) you find refreshment or sustenance along the way?
  • How do (or could) you break out of the rut of not seeing God in the midst of your life? How do (or could) you connect with others to share moments of hospitality?
A final prayer is offered to send those gathered on their way and into the crisp spring evening: O God, Help us to “find” Christ, follow his path and share ourselves along the way. Mark us with your hospitality and join us to others to share the journey wherever the road may lead. Inspire us to live with a radical receptivity and authentic honesty in our lives, communities and world. Amen.

 

P.S. The closing line in a great French Canadian hymn from the Les Petite Soeurs de Jesus and L’Arche Community ran through my head as I wrote and reflected on the experience…

I fear in the dark and the doubt of my journey;
But courage will come with the sound of your steps by my side.
And with all of the family you saved by your love,
we’ll sing to your dawn at the end of our journey.

Wishing you fellow travelers peace along the way+

 

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