We live our lives, in a way, on the road to Emmaus — according to the gospel, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem, according to Google, a bit of a muddle.
In Luke’s story, two of Jesus’s followers are fleeing Jerusalem after Rome put him to death. They’ve heard the Resurrection stories but don’t believe them. Then they meet a man who preaches the gospel, reminding them of how the prophets’ promise culminated in Jesus. The pair kindly invite their new friend to stop for the night, though only in the breaking of bread do they realize it’s Jesus. He disappears; and they return to their destiny, whatever it is, in Jerusalem.
Like all Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances, it’s a little mysterious. People don’t live there anymore. Three sites make credible claims to being the historical place. Spellcheck in the program I used to write this post didn’t even recognize the word Emmaus.
But we’re on the way nevertheless. We’re not sure where we’re going most of the time. Our fears and anxieties are constant companions. We don’t always know what to make of the strangers we encounter. We’re commanded to love them but worried they’ll ask too much. If we’re lucky, if grace has reached us, we’re walking in community with friends who help us remember that we’ve been fashioned to pour ourselves out as Jesus did, glorifying God and caring for God’s people.
Folks at St Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente are definitely Emmaus roaders. They care for military families and those without enough to eat. The city hesitated to provide emergency shelter to the unhoused this cold, wet winter, but St. Clement’s didn’t. They’re seven years into a Laundry Love ministry and offer worship English and Spanish, since these are the languages of their neighbors. When they learned of the diocesan capital campaign, they were the first parish to say yes and make a pledge and gift in honor of the Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce, a former rector.
I was along Sunday to preach and celebrate and preside as the Holy Spirit did her ineffable work as seven wonderful disciples were confirmed, received, or reaffirmed in their Emmaus road walks. Rector these 11 years, the bilingual Rev. Patrick Crerar is a cheerful, pastoral, prophetic leader. One longtime member told me that Patrick’s pastoral care was sublime when her husband was dying and that that his class on great paintings and Bible stories should be a bestselling book. Assisting him are the Rev. Canon Bradford L. Karelius and the Rev. Jay Young, former chaplain at Harvard Westlake.
Wardens are Jon Ulz and Judy Johnson. Veteran member Katrina Soto took care of many, many things, as always. The choir sounded wonderful under the directorship of Larry Gates. It was Youth Sunday, so younger ministers offered scripture readings and other ministries. Sophie Rideout, 16, was my chaplain. Her brother Sam accompanied the offertory anthem on guitar.
The breakfast burritos and cake at the lunch afterward? Oh, my. All in all, it was a crisp, sunny morning and afternoon along the Emmaus road with a cheerful, faithful, service-driven pilgrim band, alive with welcome and all the possibility of Resurrection. Learn more here.