Stumbling on the Sacred

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Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said, ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.’ — Luke 6:20a, 21a

One of the seminal stories of Eastertide is Luke’s post-resurrection account of the Road to Emmaus. In it, we hear of two disciples traveling along a road in the aftermath of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, amid rumors about the empty tomb. Evidently a few women had shown up at the tomb only to find it empty except for an angel who claimed that Jesus was alive.

They meet a stranger on their journey and begin talking about the astounding events that had taken place in recent days. The two men in this story certainly didn’t set out to meet Jesus. But they literally stumble upon the sacred.

Emmaus painting By Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674 – 1755) – Hampel Kunstauktionen, Public Domain


Which is so often how it works in our own lives. Just when we’ve given up seeking after God or just when we become frustrated with our lot in life or just when doubts start to overwhelm us we tend to stumble upon the sacred. It may be in the form of a friend calling at just the right time or a snippet of Scripture that touches us in a new or exciting way or an unexpected moment of silence in the midst of a busy day. Suddenly we end up with a brief sense of clarity which can sustain us through the more confusing moments of our lives.

But the real climax of the story comes as the two disciple share a meal with Jesus. It’s getting late so they invite him to join them for dinner. Just as at the Last Supper Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them. And the moment Jesus breaks the bread is the precise moment of clarity for the two disciples. Through the breaking of the bread, Jesus is instantly recognized. In an instant everything is revealed and they realize it was Jesus who had been in their midst the entire time.

When we hunger for Jesus, we leave ourselves open to stumbling upon the sacred. Blessed indeed are those who are hungry for the Lord.

This week’s author is the Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and creator of the wildly popular Lenten devotion Lent Madness. When not tending to his parish, drinking coffee, or blogging at Clergy Confidential, he’s likely hanging out with his family that includes his wife Bryna, two teenage sons Benedict and Zachary, his dog Delilah, and a ferret named Mimi. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @FatherTim.

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