Weekly Seed of Faith 5/22/21

Seed of Faith – A Word For The Confused  By Pastor Dave  

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Greetings Faithful Friends and Fearless Seed-Sowers,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to write a Seed of Faith.  I have been busy and maybe I have been confused and troubled.  I just returned home from Illinois after cleaning out some of my dad’s personal items from his home.  My step-mom is moving and I needed to go through some of my dad’s items that were in his home for the past fifty some years (photo albums mainly.)

Today we are going to take a walk with Jesus. We are on the road to Emmaus.  Emmaus is a town.  The Emmaus Road story is one of the most famous and familiar stories that Dr. Luke tells.  Today we meet two disciples who are also making their way home from the Passover festival.  This is the same day that Jesus rose from the tomb.  These two disciples happen to be followers of Jesus, just like us. They are heart-sick, heart-broken, depressed and confused about Jesus’ crucifixion and now they are walking home—7 miles back home. Think about where 7 miles from your home is–and imagine walking there right now. As you are walking, let me ask you a few questions.

Have you ever been heart-sick before?
Have you ever-been heart-broken before?
Have you ever been down or depressed before?
Have you ever been confused before?

Our good friend, Dr. Luke, now introduces us to two disciples, one named Cleopas and one that is not named.  Scholars have debated about who these two disciples are. Some scholars say that Cleopas is a follower of Jesus and the other, unnamed person is none other than Dr. Luke. Some have said that Cleopas is the Cleopas mentioned by the Gospel of John in John 19:25 when we are told that Mary’s sister was the wife of Cleopas and her name was Mary, also.  If this is the case, then these two disciples were Jesus’ aunt and uncle–headed home to Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.   Whoever they were, these two had been in Jerusalem for the Passover festival with a million other Jews.  They were followers of Jesus.  They were there when Jesus entered the town riding on a donkey.  They were there with all of the people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna — Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They heard the crowd shouting, Crucify him, crucify him!”  We are also told in the Scriptures that “Mary, the wife of Cleopas” was at the cross with Jesus’ mother.  Mary, the wife of Cleopas, was with her sister, Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Jesus’ crucifixion. Are you in this story yet?
These two disciples loved Jesus with all of their hearts.  They were in Jerusalem for a Passover festival, a celebration.  They were not expecting what happened.  The person they loved, Jesus, had been arrested, tried, and whipped. Jesus was crucified and these two are heart-sick!  They are heart-broken!  They are depressed! They are confused!  And they are beginning their long, 7-mile walk back home.
Can you identify with being heat-broken, depressed, confused, disappointed, and downcast?  Just say — Covid-19 or quarantine, lockdown, stay-at-home, no school, no sports, no going out, no family …. No, no, no, no! I think we can all identify with being heart-broken this past year.

Dr/ Luke tells us that as they were walking along, they were discussing the events of the past week.  The Greek word for “discussing” is “syzeteo” which is a present tense verb.  This means that they were discussing and discussing and discussing over and over again all of the things that had happened.  They were on a roller coaster of grief and confusion, going up and down and all around and around; discussing the life and death of Jesus.

As they were walking and talking, the RESURRECTED Jesus walked up behind them and asked them what they were talking about.  They did not recognize Jesus.  The original Greek tells us that “they were kept from recognizing Him.”  Why?  We really do not know.  Commentaries suggest it was because they were looking into the sun and the shadows prevented them from recognizing Jesus.   Perhaps they were so overcome with grief, their hearts so broken that in the midst of their grief and confusion they could not see who it was that was standing in front of them.  They simply did not recognize Jesus. If you are taking notes — write this one down.  It is really important!

Jesus finds us in our confusion!  Jesus finds us when our hearts are broken, and we are overwhelmed with grief.  Jesus wants to enter into our story—right where we are, no matter where we are.
I am praying that our eyes will be opened and that our hearts will be strangely warmed as we recognize Jesus whenever, wherever, He walks into our lives.

So What?
In 2015 an EF4 tornado with winds of 200 mph hit my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. I remember that night, I was heartsick, and heartbroken to hear of the devastation the tornado caused.  My heart was heavy and burdened with grief. The day after the tornado, our good friends called.  We had raised our children with them, went on vacation with them—their family was our family and vice versa.  We knew on the night of the tornado that their niece’s home had been destroyed by the tornado.  The next morning our friend called to tell us this story:

Her niece and her husband have three, small children—5,3, and 5 months.  When the sirens went off, they hurried down to the southwest corner of their basement.  Looking out the basement window, they saw their wooden swing set blow away like toothpicks and disappear.  Her niece held all three of the children while her husband formed a human shield of protection over them; spread eagle like a cross.  In less than a minute, their house and everything they owned was gone.  The first floor had collapsed into the basement, missing them by inches.  Her niece had cried out, “We’re going to die.”  Across the street, another young family had sought shelter from the tornado in their own basement. After the tornado had safely passed, the young father grabbed a flashlight and ran over to help the family across the street whose home had been blown away. In the darkness, he found the five of them in the southwest corner of the basement—the only corner that sustained no damage—and he helped pull them all to safety.  The next day, our friend, brought in heavy equipment that lifted the collapsed first floor from the basement so that our friends could sort through what was left of their home.  Here is all they found:  the five-year old’s Mickey Mouse that he sleeps with, the 3-year-old’s blankie that she sleeps with, a pillow that said HOME, a sign that said THANKFUL and her very beat up and, almost unrecognizable, laptop.  Someone took the laptop to a techy who carefully removed from it the stored photos and documents.  Everything else was gone.

Here is the “so what?” for this week that I want you to remember forever:

Jesus meets us in our confusion, in our heart-sickness, in our depression, in our fears and doubts.
Jesus WILL bring clarity into our lives.
Jesus WILL bring comfort into our lives…All through the living, abiding, Word of God.
YOUR HEART WILL BE STRANGELY WARMED–and that, my friends, is just God at work.

Just as the father I told you about covered his family in order to protect them, Jesus does the same for you and me.  In the midst of our confusion, our grief, our depression, our sorrow, our heartsickness, our heartbrokenness, our doubts, our fears, our shame, our guilt—Jesus covers us. Friends, this is the hope and the power of the RESURRECTION. Today as we travel along our own EMMAUS ROAD, may our eyes be opened,  may our hearts be strangely warmed as we break bread together.  May we recognize the crucified, risen Christ in our midst!

Back to being in Rochelle to go through some of my Dad’s personal things, I decided that since my wife would be with her father here in California that it might be nice to have my son or daughters fly with me to Rochelle. Our eldest has 7 children and couldn’t get away but she prayed for us. Our son drove his truck up from Waco, Texas; there were two toolboxes that he could have. Our youngest daughter brought her daughter and we flew together. Jesus was with us all the way. We had a ton of turbulence on the first flight then our plane was delayed due to weather in Dallas. We sat in the Dallas airport for six, long hours–wearing a mask. We were there all night. I know the man who designed the train system in Dallas and so I got the girls to ride the rails with me.  Strangely, we felt God was with us as we waited for our flight to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at 5 am–walked through the terminal and got a hotel room because we were exhausted. Later, we rented a Jeep and headed to Dad’s. Our eldest daughter was brought home to this house in 1974. Our son and daughter who were with me had experienced birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays in this home–like their entire lives have had memories there. As we sorted in the basement, I felt my heart strangely warmed. My brother, Joe, came over and helped. We were able to move Dad’s tools from a shed the next day. We loaded up Brian’s truck with two toolboxes. Through the week, I was able to see close friends and family. Heck, we even drove to Milwaukee to see the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers! Through it all, through all of the sorrow and sadness, the risen Christ was with us, warming our hearts with the love of family.

I’m praying for you. You are loved.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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