United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

"On the Road"

Rev. Rebecca Migliore
April 30, 2017


       Seemed appropriate to have an “interactive” sermon as we explore the Emmaus road story.  I’ve chosen different hymns based on the journey theme, and want us to start with a provocative quotation from John Dominic Crossan in which he states, “Emmaus never happened.  Emmaus always happens.”


What do you think he means?

       --Emmaus isn’t the “name” of a town near Jerusalem—did this really happen?  Was it symbolic?


       --Is this a way of pointing to the fact that we always meet Jesus “on the road”—

       What does the story tell us/you?

       What sticks out for you?


--why couldn’t they recognize him?


              --hearing all the “arguments” didn’t help with

                     Seeing Jesus—only breaking bread did


              --they had to ask him to stay—they never

                     would have recognized him otherwise

                     (they would have missed their chance!)


              --Seasons suggests power in the verbs:

       Took, blessed, broke, gave (what mean for us?


              --what does it mean that the minute they

 recognized him he vanished from their sight?


--have you ever experienced your “hearts burning within you”?


--what happened to their emotions/to them in this experience (from sadness/despondency to elation—running back to tell the others)


--meeting Jesus on the road propels us to DO something (often, be with others)


--Jesus changes their direction (away from Jerusalem and rest of church TO back to others) away from familiar/comfortable?


--they had asked him to stay because it was “too late” but then they run back IN THE DARK







#252—1)invitation/known in breaking bread

              2)Invitation in sadness/Jesus is with us

              3)Jesus with us in bread--wine/ in “church”

              4)Companion/hearts burning/for all creation



A vision of how we might see/be the Emmaus road

When we reach out, even in our weakness

       Then we know God still walks with us.


Idea that our journey with God makes a difference in our lives—

can change our perception,

change our direction

whether we are the “poor ones” or not


verse two change from those and they to we—rest of verses are all about us,--in a changed state—joy, true words, love, goodness, peace, neighbors


This is what it means for God still going that road with us—very Protestant ethic, idea of knowing that God is with us by the fruits of our lives




Emmaus road teaches us that Easter isn’t just about Jesus rising from the dead. 

Isn’t just about us having a chance at an afterlife.

Emmaus road is talking about now, about the walk we are on, about life in this world, after Easter.

Not in the locked room,

Not hiding away, like in John,

But out on the road.


But Jesus doesn’t want us to walk away from the “troubles of the world,” to go to our safe spaces,

Easter, Resurrection, meeting Jesus is supposed to make our hearts burn within us,

To spur us to do crazy things—like run back to Jerusalem in the DARK, like being the little church that does more than it has any right to do, like dreaming of what comes next for us.


Crossan said, “Emmaus never happened.  Emmaus always happens.”  But the REAL question isn’t whether the story is true or not, but whether Emmaus happens to us.  Are we on the road?  Are we open to the stranger?  Are we willing to have the conversation?  Are we ready to make the invitation?  What will we do once our eyes are open?

       May God bless our journeys

              And may we too meet Jesus on the road.

Alleluia, Amen.