The Broken Alleluia
The party’s over, and it’s time to return to “real life.” I’m always filled with a certain sadness the morning after a good celebration. Sometimes, I want to freeze a moment or event and hold on to it forever. The joy. The smiles. The fellowship of friends and family gathered. And the memory of it and the absence of loved ones can make re-entry into ordinary, routine life rocky.
We’ve finished the Easter Sunday clean-up, and the shouts of Alleluia have faded. We’re back at it, whatever it is for us-relationships, work, parenting, and everything else that makes up life. Some return to a world where everything seems to be on track and others resume a life that may not be as content. But the chances and changes of life teach us that everyone, even the shiniest among us, carries a back of assorted rocks. At times that bag is easier to carry than others, but there are no exceptions to seasons of struggle. Maybe you don’t want to return at all, because you circle back to a problem, a smoldering, an anxiety or the deep scar of unfinished business. What waits for us in the ordinary can make the Alleluia we shouted in the euphoria of the crowd seem broken. Were we just going through the motions? Do we really believe it at all? The roar turns to whisper as we mumble “Alleluia” just to remind us of the day we touched Resurrection.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus had heavy hearts. [Luke 24:13-35]. Cleopas and the other disciple heard rumors of resurrection, but couldn’t embrace new life in the midst of the old. Jesus “came near” and walked with them. They didn’t recognize him and began to describe what happened in Jerusalem. You can feel their desperation and sadness in the words of Luke’s Gospel as they talk about the crucifixion and the lost hope in the death of their redeemer. Jesus begins to interpret his suffering, death, and resurrection through scripture, but they still don’t recognize him. Jesus joins them for a meal, and it’s only after he takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it that the disciples recognize him.
There is no record of Emmaus. Many guess at the possible location of the town, but geography and its very existence remain a mystery. It seems odd to some that a revelation of Jesus and such a powerful resurrection encounter takes place in a missing village, but I love it.
I love the fact that we can’t pinpoint this place on a map. We can’t dig into the history of its citizens and get lost in what was. I love it because this “no town” is “every town.” Emmaus is where we are. It’s the place where we return and live. Jesus comes to us as he came to the disciples on the road. At times, the rigors of life can blind us to the presence of Christ all around, but the presence remains.
Jesus is with us on the road to our Emmaus. Grace always approaches us first, and he comes to us in the joy and the challenge of life. He reveals himself in scripture. And each time we gather at the table, the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us through the breaking of the bread. We remember the miracle of long ago, but we also re-member the miracle as manifested in our lives today. He lives. Jesus lives and is present in all of life from the breaking of bread to the broken Alleluias. His presence and our worship remind us that even in what seems over or broken, there is new life. There is nothing that can separate us from this love and life.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!