So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:29-35
The Emmaus Road story is a powerful reminder to us of the importance of gathering around the Table. Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road after Jesus’ Resurrection and all of a sudden Jesus appeared, clearly with a different image, since the disciples were unable to recognize him. They held an entire conversation (probably walking miles along the road) without recognizing it was Jesus. But then they invited him to the Table. He took the bread. He blessed it. And suddenly their eyes were opened. It was Jesus. They knew it was Jesus from the breaking of the bread.
And so, if I was writing this reflection to anyone but you, I would without a doubt, write about the importance of coming to the Table each and every Sunday. How blessed we are to be included at that Table! At Jesus’ last supper, they sang a hymn after the meal. And now, we, ministers of music, have the privilege and honor of leading those hymns after our Sunday meal in remembrance of Him. But I don’t need to tell you about the importance of gathering at the Table. That would be in every sense of the word ‘preaching to the choir’! I gather around the Table with you each and every week!
And so, when I read this passage, I choose to reflect on it from a different angle. The disciples, the best friends of Jesus, knew it was Jesus by the way He broke the bread. The question was recently asked to me, “If there was a parrot in your home, what would it repeat?” When I read this Scripture passage, my mind instantly thought back to that question. In other words: “If my image changed, how would those around me know it was me?”
Growing up my Dad had a signature phrase. When we were having a tough day, my dad would ask us, “What’s growing inside you?” And he had trained us well. We all would respond without blinking an eye, “The seeds of greatness!” Talk about a confidence boost for a 5-year-old! If my dad’s image had changed and he, looking like a random unrecognizable person, asked me, “What’s growing inside you?” I would know immediately. It has to be Dad. Maybe you have someone in your life that even if they were unrecognizable, you would know it’s them. My friend who always texts to ask how my day was, encouraging me to keep going. My mom who prayed over us at the beginning of the day leaving for school and sang us to sleep at the end of the day, still to this day sending texts saying she is praying for us. My husband who will never forget to ask me if I take my vitamins at the end of the night. The smile of that choir friend who always makes you feel so loved and valued during the sign of the peace. The meaningful hug from that friend that always seems to come at the right time.
So, this week we ask ourselves: What is my ‘signature’ move, phrase, facial expression, way of being? If I were unrecognizable, what would it be that would trigger my friends and family that it was me? By my smile, by the way I say, “I love you”, by the way I invite my spouse out for a walk, by the way I hold their hand, by the way I lift my friends up with positive comments? Or by the way I worry? By the way I complain? By the way I scream? By the way I shut them out? By my impatience?
It is never too late for us to begin new practices, new ways of being. We are to daily strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14). My prayer is that 10 years from today you can say “I’ve watched Katherine become more holy each year.” and I can say the same for you. None of us are perfect, but each day we get the chance to move towards holiness. Starting today let’s choose joy, love, peace, forgiveness, patience, a smile, a hug, an uplifting comment… the list goes on. What will be your signature move?