“As they came near the village to which they were going, he (Jesus) walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.
What if the pair of Emmaus-bound disciples had let the stranger walk on as he’d intended? Luke’s account of the resurrection provides that despite having traveled in deep conversation alongside him, their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus. But they’d arrived and he hadn’t, so bidding him a good evening and letting him continue on his way seems entirely appropriate. That would have been the end of the story.
I wonder where Jesus was going. We’ll never know. He had purpose, however, because if the disciples had to strongly urge him to stay, it would have been to overcome his strong urge to move on. Thank goodness, the Lord yielded and accepted their invitation, because that also would have been the end of the story.
But they invited him, and Jesus changed his plan. And the possibility and the mystery and the miracle deepened.
Holy Stranger, on the road and in our midst,
Awaken within us the grace for hospitality,
for in offering it to others, we receive you.
And in accepting it, we walk in your steps.
Open our eyes to those around us,
for in seeing them, we glimpse you.
Open our ears to hear your story,
for in listening to yours, we learn ours.
Even as evening descends, let your light arise
and warm our hearts to your mysterious presence.
THE DAY THOU GAVEST, LORD, IS ENDED
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended;
the darkness falls at thy behest.
To thee our morning hymns ascended;
thy praise shall hallow now our rest. Amen.
Words: John Ellerton, 1870
Tune: Rev. Clement C. Scholefield, 1874
Warren Howell, voice; Maureen Howell, piano
Musical arrangement adapted from Michael Burkhardt.