Beyond the Empty Tomb 2: The Emmaus Road

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Luke 24.13-35 Emmaus Road
Welcome to ‘Beyond the Empty Tomb’ Weekly podcasts providing a led meditation on the Resurrection Appearances of Jesus.
Today’s Resurrection appearance is from Luke 24.13-35 Jesus appears to the disciples on the Emmaus road. The symbols I suggest you use with this meditation are a cross that you can hold in your hand and a piece of bread or a bread roll on a plate
If you don’t have them with you, I suggest you pause now to get it and then resume.
Take time now to settle into this space – to be comfortable in your chair, to let your body relax into the support it is giving you. 
Let your mind let go of what you have come from, and to be simply attentive to being in this moment.
Notice your heart beat, its simple rhythm… the pulse of life
As you are with your life pulse, let your hopes for this time surface. 
Name them, and look beneath them to the desire for God that God has given you. 
Hold as precious your God given desire for God that has brought you here – 
and of the welcome of God greeting you…
notice God’s gaze on you
let God’s love come to your innermost being…
and let if flow through you with your pulse 
from your heart, to the extremities of your body
through your arms and legs to your fingertips and toes
up your neck into your head and to the very top of your crown
Let God’s love fill you, hold you…
Our reading and meditation will be taken in two parts:
First part from Luke 24 v 13 – 27
So, now pick up your cross, and remember the crucifixion – your inner response to it
Name the mix of feelings, whatever they are…
and in your mind’s eye, let yourself be walking away from Jerusalem with a friend, and as you walk, let the sense of the impact of the drama of Jesus’ crucifixion emerge in you and your conversation
Take time with this and let the talk flow
A stranger draws near to you, ‘what are you talking about?’
Share with him
Notice how he listens to you… as you tell of 
Your hopes in him
His arrest, death sentence, crucifixion
Strange stories from the women who went to the tomb – no body – angels – message he was alive
Listen to this stranger’s response to you…
Can’t you see
Don’t you believe the prophets
How it was essential for the messiah to suffer
Notice how you feel about having shared and listened with this stranger
– what has lifted your spirits
– what has disturbed you?
Now listen to the next part of this passage: 
Luke 24.28-32


Pick up the bread, and hold it – this symbol of hospitality
Notice your desire to be hospitable to this stranger – to spend more time with him.
In your minds eye return to walking with him on the road…
Invite him to stay overnight at your house – notice his response
Take him to your home, invite him in, 
Share your space with him
Prepare a meal
Tell him about yourself – and how you have found the conversation with him – what you have appreciated
Offer him the bread…
Watch as he blesses, breaks, shares
Look at his eyes…
He vanishes
You look at your friend – who says ‘wasn’t our hearts burning within us as he was talking, … as he was opening up the scriptures…
Notice your burning heart as you eat a piece bread…
What are the sensations of a burning heart for you?
Do you recognise Jesus present in them?
Let yourself tell Jesus about your burning heart… let him respond…
Glory be…
Our next resurrection appearance is Jesus appearing to his mother Mary. There is no telling of this in scripture, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! The symbol you are invited to bring to this is something that reminds you of good mothering. Something that connects with the love, acceptance, nurturing you have known. 


The Emmaus road is an old favourite of mine. Its a powerful and dramatic story of surprise and transformation – the transformation of resurrection. It informs the church’s understanding of the eucharist – the elements of giving thanks, breaking, giving are fundamental to our eucharistic liturgy. But its more than that, and perhaps for me this is because discerning God in the elements of real lived experience is both a challenge to me, and an important part of my vocation. I have long known a burning in my heart to support people in discerning God in life. I do workshops and teaching sessions on this more often than most other subjects within ‘spirituality’. 

Two really important aspects seemed to emerge as I was producing this. Firstly, in the first phase of stilling and becoming aware of God, it was the way in which our desire for God is the key to guiding us into God. The Spanish mystics – Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross all point to this in their works. For me, I remember so well, when my first spiritual director helped me see that my frustration and annoyance at my inability to maintain any sort of serious prayer life, revealed something underneath – that I had a desire to pray. Delighting in this, newly recognised, yet long known presence within my soul opened up a rich journey. I still need to return to the reassuring presence of the desire for God within when I find myself (not infrequently) dismayed at the quality of my prayer life.

The other recognition that the helps in our discerning, is also about desire for God, but comes from the reflection of the disciples after Jesus has vanished. ‘Didn’t our hearts burn within us’. Here is another key – recognising when our hearts are burning – what it is that is arousing this fire within. Often we only notice the burning afterwards, looking back with eyes that can see the flames within a past experience. The Ignatian practice of the Examen of Consciousness otherwise known as the Review of the Day provides a practice for being disciples, regularly checking for our Emmaus Road experiences. What made your heart burn today? We let these things happen, so often without any recognition that they might be moments of grace, offered to quench a thirsty soul in the midst of life. Growing in our ability to stop, recognise and drink from the well of grace helps us to develop eyes to see and ears to hear God, Christ, Spirit in the moments of our daily experiences. As Gerard Hughes puts it in ‘God where are you? “every bush is burning, if only we had the eyes to see.” 

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