Thursday, December 3, 2015

Advent Midweek 1

This is the outline of the reflection I shared at last night's Advent midweek Vespers service. As one might expect, this outline does not contain exactly the words that were spoken, but it's pretty close.

Before the reflection, Luke 24:28-35 was read.


When they came to Emmaus, [Jesus] acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”

They got up right then and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying to each other, “The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon!” Then the two disciples described what had happened along the road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.

      ~ text from the Common English Bible


They talked with one another as they walked along
which we, so often stuck in our cars
don’t seem to do much any more

sure, we talk with our friend who’s in the car with us
but the stranger going along the same road, not so much

of course, whenever I’m on a road trip, traveling down a highway
I often recognize the cars travelling more-or-less the same speed
we pass each other as we go along
leapfrogging when our gasoline or lunch stops don’t coincide

the thing is, though, I don’t know anything about them,
and I don’t have the opportunity to know anything about them
other than their driving habits
that one never signals … that one drives recklessly …
I hope the state troopers are parked just over that hill

it’d be different if we were walking along
for instance, when I’m hiking I have pleasant conversations
with at least 75% of the strangers I meet
sure, I may get annoyed with some people,
but I’d know a little more about them
than only why they bother me
they stop being a set of behaviors, and they become in my eyes a real person

so on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus
they had a little bit different of an experience than we do when we travel
they were talking with each other as they walked along
and as they did, Clopas and his companion
were surprised by the stranger’s knowledge and understanding of scripture
he was a real person to them,
yet they still did not recognize him

Then, in the intimacy of a shared meal,
they experienced the fullness of the incarnation

the incarnation – a doctrinal articulation of the truth
that God meets us in flesh, face to face

the incarnation – that which we celebrate at Christmas
when God arrives in this world as an infant

the incarnation – when God sits across the table from us

the incarnation – that which we spend Advent anticipating
but it’s not *only* God’s incarnation as an infant which we anticipate

more significantly, we do our best during this season of Advent
to sharpen our pay-attention-skills

so that we can watch for Messiah enfleshed
at any time
in any place
in the person of *any* one of the strangers
that we take the time to meet
as we go on our way