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May 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 30, 2017 – Luke 24:13-35

“Please Stay”

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Intro: Finally, we have our painting

It is not my place to name another person’s artwork–however . . .
– Hyatt pointed out for me some interesting details in how this came out
• for example, the motion that moves across the canvas as we follow the raised arms
– the two disciples are saying, “Please Stay”
• and that would be my choice for the title of this piece

When the five or six of us here decided to meet formally,
– I began to formulate a vision for Reflexion
• my intent was to define our community and give it direction
◦ but I got a very strong impression that was not what God wanted
◦ instead, we were to let his Spirit do as he wished and then see what shape it took
• in our first meeting, all I could say for sure was what we weren’t
◦ e.g., a “church”
– if we were to illustrate what Reflexion is with a story
• it would be the narrative of these three figures and their interaction
◦ we are the two characters standing side-by-side
◦ we are traveling–each of us for our own reasons–, but together
• and Jesus is traveling with us
◦ we are a spiritual community sharing a spiritual journey
◦ this is Reflexion

The story behind the painting

Sometime in the afternoon, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of his followers left Jerusalem on a seven mile walk for a village named Emmaus. This is how Jesus had sent his followers out on an earlier mission–by twos. Since early morning rumors had been flying about how the Lord’s body had gone missing overnight and that a small group of his female followers had seen a vision of angels announcing that he had risen from the dead. To the and realistic, hard-headed apostles, this sounded like nonsense and they refused to buy it.

The two disciples on their way to Emmaus were talking about the events of the previous four or five days. That they were discussing those things, indicates they were searching together for answers. Of course, there is no way for us to know the specifics of their dialogue, but something that never entered the conversation was how all those things were a wonderful fulfillment of scripture or how so many of the ancient prophecies now made sense. It is more likely that remembering the details stabbed them with bitter grief. However, they could not hold those things in silence, but had to talk their confusion out loud.

As they went on, a stranger approached them, either crossing paths from a side road or by catching up to them. Matching his pace to theirs, he walked with them and soon he inserted himself into their conversation. Perhaps responding to their serious expressions and the dark tone of their words, he spoke as if curious regarding the subject of their discussion. They reacted as though he had exposed their bleeding hearts and for a moment the three of them stood still, frozen in silence. Clearing the lump in his throat, one of them asked the intrusive stranger, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know what’s happened these last few days?”
He responded, somewhat naively, “What happened?”
What happened, was that Jesus of Nazareth had come to the holy city. If you haven’t heard, he was a prophet who, when he spoke his words were power and when the sick were brought to him, he worked miracles. But our priests and leaders turned on him, condemned him and handed him over to the Romans who crucified. And we had been hoping that he was the One, the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel.”
“The whole thing was over quickly. His body had been laid to rest and the dust was beginning to settle. Then, this morning, some women from our group went to the tomb, found it open but did not find his remains. They reported to the apostles as story of seeing angels, but it made no sense.”

With sudden assertiveness, the stranger took the two disciples to task, “How foolish you’ve been! So slow to catch on and trust what is right in front of you. Can’t you see that everything you have described is exactly what was written by the prophets? Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer the rejection, the abuse, the cross and then to enter his glory?”

Then, for the remainder of their walk to Emmaus, he walked them through the Scriptures from the early period of Moses right through to the last prophet, pointing out passages that spoke of these events in which predictions and promises had been fulfilled. The disciples were making two journeys with Jesus; the ordinary walk down a dirt road and an extraordinary walk through biblical history.

Not far from the city gates of Emmaus, Jesus stopped to conclude his speech, wish them well and made as if he intended to continue on his way. But the other two begged him, “Stay with us.” So he did, right up to the moment when they sat to share a meal. Then something in the way he took took the bread and blessed it, and broke it opened their eyes. And he was gone.

How does this serve as illustration of Reflexion?

First, life in God is a spiritual journey – we are on the road
– this biblical metaphor reaches as far back as Abraham
• we are told that he left home and country following God and not know where going
◦ he was content to live in tents, because:

. . . he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (He. 11:10)
And as for us,
. . . here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come (He. 13:14)

• Israel’s journey through the wilderness is another example
◦ Moses did not record the places where they arrived in their journeys, but their “starting places”
◦ wherever you are today is not a destination, it is another starting
– the New Testament uses walk as a metaphor for the spiritual journey

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Col. 2:6)
. . . if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
. . . 
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 Jn. 1:6; 2:6)

Second, we do not make this journey alone
– we need each other (Iron sharpens iron . . .)

Building on the work of John Bowlby regarding the emotional attachment needs of children, Mary Ainsworth set out to see if the same was true also of adults. The research that she and her colleagues conducted proved that adults are greatly affected by emotional support and languish mentally, physically and socially without it. To simplify attachment theory to its most basic premises, it tells us that every human person needs a secure base from which to launch and a safe haven to which he or she can return to receive acceptance, attunement, care and love. Sue Johnson and Kenneth Sanderfer in Created for Connectionhave observed although Christians, like everyone else, need this with another person, they also enjoy a secure base and safe haven in their relationship with God.

– as we journey together, our conversations include, among other important issues, our

  • longings
  • hopes
  • expectations
  • surprises
  • disappointments
  • insight from scripture
  • and how all of these things affect us
    (I am thinking especially of our conversations during our evenings of Lexio Divina)

• like the two disciples outside Emmaus, standing still and looking sad,
◦ it is as important at times to be with our sorrow as it is to be with our burning hearts

Third, Jesus joins us in our journey together
– but we do not always recognize his presence
• ironically, however, we can usually tell when he’s left a conversation
◦ we do sometimes sense a shift
• many evenings when we begin our Lexio
◦ Jim will pass around the evening’s biblical text
◦ looking at it, I think, “I’m not going to get anything out of this!”
◦ but before the evening ends, the Spirit has spoken to me through the Scripture and the others who were present
– with us, Jesus takes our conversation to a new level
• one we would not have reached on our own
• also, it is typical for Jesus to begin with questions
◦ we want answers, but that is not always the best way to learn
◦ and having answers handed to us does not usually lead to enlightenment

Fourth, we begin to think new thoughts
– we are able to locate ourselves in our circumstances — and in history
• here is a paradox:
◦ on the one hand, we come to appreciate where we are now
(we are content to be here; it is where we are supposed to be in this moment)
◦ on the other hand, at same time we are eager to begin the next leg of our journey

Fifth,  we begin to feel new feelings
– researchers tell us that emotions are “the fuel for life”
• that they are, “par excellence, vehicles of change”
– the burning heart is an energy that can inspire and motivate
• but the burning heart is not our goal
◦ Jesus referred to John the Baptist as a “burning and shining light” (Jn 5:35)
◦ the heat may die down, but the light remains

Conc: There are about twenty other things I wanted to say

But I suppose this is enough for now
– I hope it is helpful for you to clarify who we are
(though you may still not know what to tell your friends when they ask you where you go on Sunday mornings)
• Reflexion is not going to institutionalize the spiritual journey
◦ we will never become “The First Church of the Burning hearts”
• we won’t brand the spiritual journey, because we want to live it
– in the meantime, when ever we talk about Jesus, we are with Jesus
• that is the purpose of our silent pause
◦ it is like the moment when the two disciples stood still

We pause,
we breathe slowly,
we turn toward God in prayer
and we bring into present moment awareness
the fact of Jesus with us here and now.
And then we journey on.

One Comment

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  1. grendal hanks / May 19 2017

    I had the privilege of seeing Hyatt’s painting before it was delivered, and some of his development sketches. It is truly inspiring and Hyatt is an amazing artist! So glad you have this beautiful piece of art!

    ( |o )====:::

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