I receive my mail at a post office box in Manchaca. It was close to my previous church and handy as I went back and forth between home and work. And it was easier to keep all of that in place after I retired. I went by the post office last week to pick up my mail – nothing unusual – except I had a mask on my face as protection against any germs hanging around. It was busy that day. Almost everyone wore a mask … “looks like we’re all getting the message,” I thought.
As I headed to my car, at two different points, two different people stopped and said my name. I stopped, kept the appropriate social distance, and tried to figure out who on earth they were. I spoke to them as though I knew them, even though they were unrecognizable with only their eyes showing. It was an odd feeling. And at the same time, it was comforting to be known in a world that seems turned upside down. Warmed my heart, it did.
It’s been just two weeks since our Easter Sunday celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord. I don’t know about you, but it seems more like two YEARS ago since Easter. These COVID-19 stay-at-home days mess with one’s sense of time!
But the Church, in all her wisdom, will not let Easter pass by so quickly. In our Scripture text for this Sunday, Luke tells us that the scene on the road to Emmaus occurs “that same day” (the first Easter) and on into the evening.
Two followers of Jesus walk home, trying to sort out all that has happened during Passover week in Jerusalem. Jesus is crucified, and their hopes for redemption have died with him. Some of the women who were close to Jesus insist that they’ve seen him, risen from the dead. These two went to the tomb themselves and found it empty, but there was no Jesus in sight. They are confused and troubled. There is nothing to do but return home, back to where it all started.
And then, a stranger approaches ….
The Gospel writer Matthew tells us of a promise Jesus made to his disciples that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Whether we’re gathered in church or around a livestreamed service, Jesus is with us. Whether we stand 6 feet apart in the grocery line or order online, Jesus is nearby. Whether we eat alone or share a meal with loved ones, Jesus joins us. And, whether he’s wearing a mask or standing on a street corner, Jesus will make himself known to us.
Pay attention to the strangers. Because Easter won’t be far away! – Pastor Laura