Bob Chell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Questions

When I was young we sometimes played a game we called “Brush with Fame” where we would take turns recounting encounters with famous or well known persons in our community. Remember a time you encountered a well known person? What was your experience like?  What would you say or do differently if you encountered them again. Did the experience change you in any way?

Brush With Fame

At the Silver Jubilee Celebration, marking 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Richard Griffin, a Royal Protection Officer assigned to protect her, told an amazing story of two Americans’ unsuspecting brush with fame.  The hikers on a walking holiday met the Queen and Griffen in a picnic area, but had no idea who they were.  After a short conversation–and some pictures–the hikers went on their way, never guessing they had been in the presence of royalty.  You can hear Griffen tell about the encounter here.

Discussion Questions

  • Did your ‘Brush with Fame’ change you or your thinking in any way?
  • Did your ‘Brush with Fame’ change your opinion about the well known person you encountered?
  • Would you like to be well known? What would be a burden? a blessing?
  • Why do you think the hikers did not recognize one of the world’s most famous people?

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

In their defense, the disciples had just watched Jesus die; he was the last person they expected to see. Keep in mind, too, the disciples were not out for an afternoon walk; they were fleeing for their lives. Who knew? Perhaps the religious authorities would come after them next!

Did you ever run away from home as a child, wishing you could leave your life behind in search of a better one? Or perhaps you’re nearing graduation and pondering what’s next; more school, full time work, enlistment in the military, or volunteer service. We may greet the next chapter with with a note of sadness or despair, or with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Whatever the motivation, change is almost certain to prove difficult and challenging—just as it was for the disciples as they moved into a new reality.

Those times we’ve had all we can take and just want to be done, just want to be somewhere else, just want to leave the pain, shame, or guilt behind are Emmaus times. In those times, when the pain of our present circumstances gets unbearable, we hit the road, figuratively or literally, yearning for change.  These are difficult and dangerous times: Leaving home, changing schools, ending a relationship. Even when it’s a healthy choice, it is difficult. Change is hard, and more so when it involves those with whom we are related by friendship or family. 

Henry Nouwen, a Catholic priest wrote about another Biblical character who, like these disciples, hit the road in search of a new life, the prodigal son. Reflecting on his own life Nouwen wrote,  “For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God.  Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. …I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it as difficult as possible for me to find him, but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.” 

It wasn’t the empty tomb which convinced the disciples of the truth about Jesus but Christ’s living presence in their lives. It was an intimate meeting on the road.  Unless we too encounter the living Christ, we too are unable to believe.

This doesn’t mean need we need to conjure up enough faith to believe in things which are foreign to our experience.  Nor ought we suspend our intellect or deny our doubt.  Rather, it means opening ourselves to the presence of Christ in our lives. Where is Jesus meeting you? God has always worked in ways unexpected, in places outside the mainstream. God still does.

Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic of the 13th century said, “Above all else, know this: Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and especially for new ones.” 

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever had an encounter with someone which transformed the way you looked at life? Was it exciting? disquieting? both?
  • Do you find change more exciting or more frightening? One psychologist said we change when we are bored enough, hurt enough, or find out how exciting it can be. Which has been most true for you?
  • How does your faith change and shape your life as you look to the future?

Activity Suggestions

  • Ask someone you respect if they found a career, or if a career found them. Are they fulfilled? If not, what prevents them from changing.
  • Ask a parent, grandparent, or trusted adult if there was a time in their life when they were confused or scared about the future? What enabled them to get through that time?
  • How can you tell when God is calling you to move in a new direction?  Is it possible that several different directions might be equally pleasing to God?

Closing Prayer

God, thank you for loving us, even when we feel lost and lonely. Open our eyes to your presence in our lives and especially to the opportunities you set before us. Ease our fears and increase our trust in you. Amen.