Family Liturgies

Luke 24: Invitation/Revelation

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by Erika Marksbury

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-31 (NRSV)
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

He asked them, “What things?”

They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

Memory Verse
But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”
–Luke 24:29

Thoughts on Scripture
When are we too old for slumber parties? I’ve honestly been wondering about this lately.

My job has me occasionally spend the night at the church for lock-ins where teenagers eat and sing and play intricate versions of hide-and-seek. The best part of those nights is when I peek in on the ones that are still up at 3 a.m. and they’ve abandoned their board games in favor of conversation, the middle school boys nervously picking the brains of the older girls, the girls assuring them that they’ll be ok, that the high school world to come is sometimes scary but ultimately survivable.

My role as a mom has me supervising my own young boys and their friends in the fort they build in our living room for their own sleepovers. They don’t last as long into the night, but it’s the same basic pattern: lots of running around until they finally wear themselves out, then chatting, snuggled into their sleeping bags, until they fall asleep. These conversations are usually retellings of movie or book plots, and sometimes friendly fights about which characters are the best.

And I find myself envying these nights. My friends and I have dinner parties, or we gather for drinks, or we get together and watch our kids run around and laugh. And then it ends. We pack ourselves (and our kids) up and say we’ll do it again soon and drive to our separate homes. And sometimes I find myself like Cleopas and his friend here, wanting to say, “Come on; it’s late. Stay. We just really started talking. Let’s make cookies and a campfire and tell more stories.”

And I know, I know, the stranger/Jesus doesn’t actually spend the night. What matters here, I think, is the invitation. Maybe the travelers are just being hospitable – it’s late, they’ve been walking a long time; if they need to rest, surely he does, too. But they’re also being vulnerable. They’re also risking something to say: this conversation has mattered to us. You matter to us. You are a stranger who has become a friend. We want to spend more time with you.

It’s easy for my kids to say that to their friends, even their brand-new friends. They are brave and friendly and want to be together and aren’t shy about saying it.

It’s harder for me, risking rejection like that. My friends’ lives are more complicated than my kids’ friends’ lives. There are lots of reasons they might say no. But this story suggests that the response to the invitation doesn’t even matter. Everything hinges on the invitation itself. The travelers come to know who their companion is only after they open themselves up. The risk makes way for the revelation.

Which means, of course, that it’s totally worth taking.

Questions to Discuss
– When have you learned something by taking a risk? Were you nervous? What convinced you to do it?

– Describe a time when a stranger turned quickly into a friend. How did that happen?

– If you could have slumber party with Jesus, what would you stay up late talking about?

– Why doesn’t he stay? Why does Jesus/the stranger “vanish from their sight”?

Spiritual Practice
As a family, make a list of lots of different people in your life: co-workers, neighbors, school friends, teammates, troop members, church friends, other family. Write or talk about the ways you see God living through each one. Give thanks for all the ways God is alive around you.

If you like, make a special invitation to someone on the list this week, just to spend more time together. See what is revealed.

Prayer
Holy One,
You are all around us:
in our friends, in every stranger.
Help us to be open
to all the ways you want to teach us,
comfort us, challenge us, befriend us.
Amen.

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