This week's Easter reading takes me to one of my all-time favorite stories in the whole Bible. I love this Jesus who visits his friends after resurrection with what seems to be a hilarious sense of humor. Appearing suddenly through locked doors. Inviting them to stick their hands into his resurrected scars. Walking seven miles without revealing His true identity. Eating fish. And bread. Drinking wine.
I love this Jesus who is most easily recognized in the ordinary walking-around, eating-at-table parts of the day. This Jesus who once told us all "I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you."
I love this God who refuses to be pinned down to one method of revelation. This God who knocks Saul off his horse in a blinding light on the Damascus Road is the same God who dimmed Himself, trudging along with the disheartened disciples on the Emmaus Road.
Some people appear to think that the "spiritual life" is a peculiar condition mainly supported by cream ices and corrected by powders. But the solid norm of the spiritual life should be like that of the natural life: a matter of porridge, bread and butter.... It is not the best housekeeper who has the most ferocious spring-clean, or gets things from the confectioner when she is expecting guests. "If any man open the door, I will come in to him"; share his ordinary meal, and irradiate his ordinary life. The demand for temperance of soul, for acknowledgment of the sacred character of the normal, is based on that fact -- the central Christian fact -- of the humble entrance of God into our common human life. (from The House of the Soul and Concerning the Inner Life, Evelyn Underhill)I want to develop my senses to recognize the Jesus of the ordinary; to maybe notice sooner than the Emmaus travelers: Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road? To live in the abundant presence of Christ that surrounds and infuses the ordinary joys and pains of every day rather than just plucking the blackberries of the few-and-far between Grand Moments.
During the weeks of Easter, I've been reading The Rising: Living the Mysteries of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, by Wendy M. Wright. In the reflection on the Emmaus travellers, she shares this commentary from the sixth-century monk who later became pope, Gregory the Great:
Gregory seized on the moment in the story when the disciples recall, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?" Gregory understands the passage to refer to the experience of spiritual friendship. For Gregory, human beings feel and find God as presence primarily in relationships, especially in friendships which have the love of God at their core. Our hearts burn because we long for God, our home, our end. When we touch other hearts aware of their yearning, we in fact touch something of God-with-us now. For Gregory, the love of friends in the Spirit is the love of God experienced in this life. Certainly this must be part of the Easter reality that we celebrate during the Fifty Days of Easter, this coming to know God together. (The Rising, Wendy M. Wright)
In a difficult season when Brian and I haven't been sure which end is up, we have found much delight in the gathering 'round table of friends. What started as a small group we co-lead through the months of January, February, March and half of April has concluded in ordinary Tuesday nights in May, having ordinary conversations in ordinary surroundings with ordinary people.
We celebrate the God-with-us now. The Christ and His Spirit among us, beneath us, behind us, above us, around us and through us. The extraordinary revelation of Himself shared in friendship.
And haven't our hearts burned within us?