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The two were on their way home, disillusioned after all that had taken place.

There had been hope at first. Hope in this itinerant carpenter-turned-teacher who had emerged from Galilean obscurity, who breathtakingly and daringly taught the poverty-stricken masses and took on the religious elite. And it was this itinerant, miracle-working teacher whose ministry always had its sights set on Jerusalem.

There had been hope at first, in what he might do, and who he might be. There was hope in his mission, his ministry. Whisperings and murmerings – would he be the one? Would he be the one to finally take on the occupiers? Would this be the saviour who would at long last lead the charge and deliver them from fear, and slavery, and oppression?

There had been hope at first, culminating in loud Hosannas all too quickly chased down by a final meal, a stinging betrayal, and an angry mob. It’s amazing how quickly everything changes.

There had been hope at first, but hope turned to fear, sending another so-called messiah to trial, denial, and the cross.

The cross, and then nothing. Hopes and dreams dashed in the finality of death.

And this is where we meet Cleopas and his companion. They had left the city, hearts torn in two. Minds in disbelief. Hopes and dreams shattered, the whisperings and murmerings never come true.

Somehow they had missed the news. And I wonder if we miss it sometimes, too, caught up as we are in all manner of important, and not-so-important things.

Somehow they missed the resurrection party, its new life, its bold alleluias and its exquisite, flavour-filled homemade quiche following an early morning vigil.

I was thinking about these things this week as I set out on my weekly trek through Lynn Canyon, with my son sitting snugly in a pack on my back.

I was thinking about these things as we crossed the bridge, and marched down the path. As we stopped briefly by the stream to take in the glistening green water, gaze quickly up at the sun dancing through the trees. As we snapped a few selfies to keep the parents back home happy.

I was thinking about these things, hearing Jacob’s sounds of delight as dogs bounded past or as he tugged on my sweater’s drawstrings, guiding me as if with reins and bridle.

I was thinking about these things as we passed the 30-Foot Pool, and began to mount the 100 or more stairs to the next plateau.
But these thoughts began to fade as we reached the halfway mark, the reality of 40 additional pounds on my back setting in, our pace continuing to slow.

And I forgot about the Emmaus road completely as we reached the 3/4 mark, slowing to a stand-still, and watching helplessly as the woman at the next landing began to wobble, then stumble, then fall.

I forgot about that road as a man with southern drawl asked worriedly for the emergency number, I found myself on the line with 911, requesting paramedics, as others tended to her immediate needs.

Waiting for the paramedics to arrive, we stayed in conversation, the couple from Texas and I, as we tended to the woman still semi-conscious on the ground. We had time before the paramedics arrived, and made small talk. They asked my line of work, and I shared my excitement about this community. “You don’t have many churches around here,” they said. “It’s different from back home.”

No doubt.

After the paramedics arrived, releasing us to resume our hike, we continued the conversation up the remainder of the hill. Before leaving them, they suggested, “maybe you can use this experience as a sermon illustration.” I told them I’d think about it.

All throughout his gospel account, the writer of Luke has been taking us on a journey. From the very beginning, the gospel has taken us from obscure beginnings to the shining city lights of Jerusalem. Today’s gospel is the hinge. The turning point. It’s amazing how quickly everything changes.

We see the inner journey take root as the disciples’ slow hearts become a kindling flame, become a fire lit ablaze. We glimpse the foreshadowed story of an outward-focused journey soon to begin, a journey marked with fire and the Holy Spirit.

We Christians follow this journey through the Acts of the Apostles, through repentance, baptism and a sending out in Christ’s name. This is a journey and a story of which we are all a part. And it’s a story at the heart of the gospel.

God has gathered us here today to be transformed by our encounters with Christ and one another. And we’ve been gathered to be sent out into the world in the power of God’s Spirit.

Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread. In the pouring out of the wine. In the offering of ourselves for one another, and for the life of the world.

We gather to be reminded that the story of the scriptures, beginning with the law and the prophets, is God’s call for humanity to remain faithful to God, one another, and to place. Not to consume or to be consumed, but to offer ourselves in self-giving love.

Hurrying up those stairs at Lynn Canyon, I was preoccupied with other things. I was not as present to what was around me as I could have been. No, I knew that if we did not hurry, there wouldn’t be enough time to stop at Honey’s in Deep Cove before lunch.

And yet, my encounter with those folks on the staircase in Lynn Valley brought me back to earth. And it reminds me, today, of the struggle to take root, to pay attention, to engage deeply with the people and places around me in the midst of our fast-paced, driven, and often-times rootless culture. It reminds me of Jesus’ call to follow him, even here, even now, even today.

Something changed for the disciples that day. They were disappointed. They were distraught. And yet, their encounter with Jesus, as with our own encounters, transform everything. If only we’d slow down long enough to pay attention. I’d like to say that something changed for me on Friday, but I, like those disciples, can also be foolish and slow of heart.

Something changed for the disciples that day. Their expectations were surely not met. But neither were they waiting any longer on a Messiah to appear.

Because he is here. Present amongst us. And it starts to become clearer, as we begin to see what Jesus came to do in the first place. To blow away our expectations. To do the impossible. To set us free to live the life of the risen Christ. And to be reminded, in the words of Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

We are the body of Christ. With pierced hands, side, and feet, we are Christ’s body, together. And God sends us, is sending this community, to extend that self-sacrificing, transforming and resurrecting love into the places we are from. To the places we are sent.

And we are sent today, with hope rekindled, and with hearts aflame.