Image: Dempster Highway Skirting the Richardson Mountains
In the mission communities of the north the idea of an appointment is a bit of a foreign concept. Appointments made a week ago are easily broken as what seemed urgent at the time may no longer be pressing or other priorities have come to light. That said, when someone drops in without notice, it is best to put aside everything and offer the time that is being asked for. It may be, for that unexpected guest, an alarm bell has rung and the act of reaching out for an ear to listen is an impulse and an opportunity that, if missed, may not recur again.
Every once in a while life offers us a wake-up call. These calls can be uncomfortable, even painful, like opening our eyes into the bright morning light after a deep sound sleep. Ultimately they are a gift to us as a chance to enter into the dawn of a new day.
Our scripture readings today are all about wake-up calls. As Peter addresses the men of Judea he reminds them of the terrible act they have committed. He tells them that the man that they handed over to be put to death on the cross was, “Jesus of Nazareth, attested to by God with power, wonder and signs” Peter goes on to say that the same Jesus is now risen from the dead and it is time for a second chance. If they repent of their ways and have contrite hearts they can start again and they will rejoice, for God will not abandon them but show them the way to new life. Some will hear the alarm bells ringing but others will continue in their moral slumber.
Likewise, in the Gospel, as the two disciples walk toward Emmaus they find themselves in the deep stupor of grief. They can only repeat to themselves what they think they know about the outcome of the crucifixion. That Jesus, who they thought was the Messiah, is now dead and their hopes for change have died with him. They are so numb that even when Jesus approaches and walks with them they do not recognize him. Like raising the blinds on a dark room, Jesus gently prods them, getting them to talk about their grief and then begins to offer a new vision, a new way of looking at things by sharing with them the words of the prophets and how they have been fulfilled.
Slowly but surely the disciples come to a new awareness. It is at the breaking of the bread that finally their eyes are wide open and they become fully awake and aware that they are in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus.
Once we have been roused from sleep we move to the next step which is action, because just stirring to the alarm is not enough. If we lie around thinking about how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning we will soon be fast asleep again. If we keep hitting the snooze button or skipping the appointment thinking about how hard change can be and about how it would be more comfortable to stay with the life we know, then soon we will drift off and the opportunity will be lost.
For the disciples on the road to Emmaus this means they could not hesitate and in fact, “that same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem…and told the others what had happened on the road.”
The psalm today tells us that,
“In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of joy. In God’s right hand are pleasures forever more.”
The dreams we experience in the depths of our sleep might be pleasant but they do not compare to the life that God is offering to us. Are you ready to wake-up to his call?