Scriptures: Luke 24:13-35
Speaker: Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo (O.Young)
About the Speaker:
Rev O.Young is a clergy of the Metropolitan Community Church New York and an adjunct assistant professor at City University of New York. He is Malaysia’s first openly gay pastor to marry and has published extensively on Christianity and sexuality in Chinese.
Emmaus? We’ve All Been There
Why did the disciples walk to this village? Because they needed to flee from Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem was a place of broken dreams — they were called to follow this man Jesus, they saw miracles after miracles and when they finally realized that Jesus was the messiah, he was killed in the most humiliating way (He died on the cross, naked). They dispersed. Yet, three days after his death, even his body was lost! Nobody saw his body!
Where was Emmaus? From the Bible, we know that Emmaus is about 25km from Jerusalem. For years biblical archeologists have been debating over the location of Emmaus – while nine possibilities have been proposed, no consensus was reached. Further, Emmaus was not mentioned anywhere else in ancient literature, thus some scholars even suggested that the place Emmaus did not exist – it was an imaginary place. It was a place the disciples went to when dreams were broken. It was a path of helplessness, hopelessness and disappointment. If this village Emmaus did not exist physically, then any place could be that village, and anyone of us who once had dreams broken could have walked on this path.
Blinded by Frustration; Seeing by Love
Many of us have been there, especially LGBT Christians. When faced with pressure from the family, or the oppression from the government, we thought our lives have ended; when we lost our jobs, or broke up with our loved ones, we thought our lives have ended… All we could see was impossibilities, limitations and reasons for giving up. We are easily blinded by frustration. We couldn’t see beyond impossibility, we could not see chances — just like the disciples, they could not recognize Jesus even when Jesus was physically present, walked with them for three hours, did extensive Bible studies with them. This is the most scary part — when we thought that it’s not possible, we couldn’t do it, it’s the end, we shape our realities, we become the impossibility. Because when we think that is impossible, we surrender and do nothing. Our perspectives and attitudes determine our level and the presence/absence of success and joy. Many people think that they would be happy if they were successful. No! Psychologists have proved that it is the other way round – when we are happy, we would be successful. Because our perspectives and attitudes lead us onto actions which determine the outcome. Our fate is our character. If we want to change our fate, we have to change our perspectives, our attitudes and our lifestyles.
How could we change this? In the Lukan story, we see that it is not the presence or absence of Jesus, because we might be blinded and could not see him; it is also not biblical knowledge, the disciples did three hours of bible studies and they were still the same —– the core issue lies not with who and what helps, but within us. Pastors and courses cannot help us because the issue lies deep within us. We have to do the hard work ourselves. In the Lukan story, it is only when Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it and passed it to the disciples, that their eyes were opened (v30). This action reminded them of Jesus’s unconditional and boundless love. Indeed, none of our trespasses could be bigger than God’s love for us. None. Remember Peter and Judas? They were both Jesus’s disciples, they both lived with him, went on missions for him, saw his miracles, betrayed him, and both regretted for having betrayed Jesus. The only difference between Judas and Peter lies in Judas saw that his mistake was bigger than Jesus’s love and he committed suicide, while Peter saw Jesus’s boundless love and chose to start over. When we see the depth of God’s love for us, we can have the strength to surpass the limitations, fear, frustration and impossibilities that keep us in limbo.
We Have God’s Creative Power
The Lukan story does not end with Jesus leaving after passing the bread. The two went back to Jerusalem where they fled from, and Christianity grew out of this group of little more than 20 villagers to 30 million in 300 years. When we have enough love, we could go that extra mile. Jesus’s leaving matters not — for the disciples have already met love and they carried on the passion. Do we have love? Do we have enough love? If our love deep enough?
We are created us in God’s image. So, we have the creativity and creative power like God does. Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. When we change ourselves, the world changes; when we are agitated, the world is full of disorder; when we are at peace, we are also at peace with the world. Then we can live our lives passionately. The apostle Paul wrote that we must rejoice (Philippians 4:4-7). Being joyful is something that we can and must make a conscious decision for. It is only then can we see love, and use the creative powers that is bestowed on us to co-create our lives in God’s love.
Let this be our prayer: Lord, help us to see love, your unconditional and boundless love; help us not to forget that nothing is bigger than your boundless love; help us to change our perspectives, our attitudes and our lifestyles that stand in the way of our dreams and our passion; help us to live more in your image of limitless creativity and possibilities. All these in Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.