I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me
On Sunday I preached a sermon on Luke's story of the Journey to Emmaus (Luke 24.13-35). It's a story that ends well. The followers of Jesus, who hadn't been able to recognize him as they walked with him on the road, invite him to stay with them and as they sit with him and celebrate an evening Eucharist... voila! their eyes are opened and suddenly they recognize him.
The interesting thing to me is that this simple act of hospitality turned into a sacred and revelatory meal almost didn't happen. When they get to their destination Cleopas and his companion check in to wherever they had planned on lodging but the stranger that has accompanied them walks on. It's at that point that they call to him, and in what was actually more than just a simple invitation (they urged him strongly) they compelled the-Jesus-they-didn't-know-was-Jesus to stay with them. He does, and a short time later, after the breaking of the bread and the sharing of a meal, or vice-versa, "their eyes were opened and they recognize him."
In reading the story at its simplest level we can posit one conclusion: If they hadn't invited the stranger to stay with them they would have never recognized him as the Christ. Seen in that light a moment in the story that sounds a little magical and too good to be true is transformed into a Lucan version of Matthew 25: "Come,, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Seek the Lord while he wills to be found, call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55.6