Not Just Another Hike

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Have you ever had that sinking feeling of being all alone in the world? 

I’m not talking about the “good” kind of being alone.  We have all had those times when it felt gloriously wonderful to be alone for just a bit.  To be slightly indulgent or just plain lazy for a while. 

It can be absolutely positively delightful to have the house all to yourself.  To soak in the sound of silence.  Not having to cook supper for anyone else or to share the television or to pick up any messes can be an amazing blessing.  Especially if your days and nights are filled with noise – nuggets and someone else’s Netflix queue. 

The McFarland house sometimes feels like it is one great big LEGO ship!

But that isn’t the kind of alone I’m thinking of.  I’m talking about the kind of alone that leaves you feeling lonely and maybe even lost.  I have felt this way a time or 800.  Sometimes I even feel lost and alone when I am surrounded by other people.  

This happened to me on our sabbatical while we were in Mexico.  Actually – this has happened – every time Jason and I have gone to Mexico – now that I think about it! 

You should know that as much as I love Mexico – I don’t speak Spanish.  As in I can barely say please and thank you on a good day.  And when I get nervous my very minimal Spanish speaking “skills” disappear entirely!  As in zip – zilch – nada – nothing.  I become a babbling idiot! 

In fact – Jack spent most of our sabbatical laughing at my pathetic pronunciation of the 6 Spanish words I do know and telling me to stick close to his dad!  And believe me – for the most part I stuck to Jason like superglue.  Because – you know – the whole I can’t speak any Spanish thing.

This is why Mexico has stolen part of my heart in spite of the language barrier . . .

But one afternoon – I got brave and actually volunteered to go into a store near the bus station to buy drinks for our next bus trip all by myself!  The boys were sitting with our luggage.  Jason was buying our bus tickets, and I was in charge of drinks. 

Easy-peasy right.  I didn’t even have to speak Spanish.  An 8 year old could do this.  (Actually – in Mexico – much – much younger children do errands like this by themselves all of the time.)

And this – this is pretty awesome too . . .

With my family cheering me on – I bravely set forth like I was about to conquer Mount Everest instead of the local 7-11!

And I will have you know that I totally rocked the whole buying of the drinks thing.  I got the waters and even threw in a bonus package of cookies.  I smiled warmly.  I got my change.  I only slightly mangled my pronunciation of “gracias.”  Then I marched out of the store and onto the street and I immediately realized I was lost.  And I mean LOST!

And this . . .

I had absolutely – positively no idea where I was.  Well – I knew I was still in Mexico, because I could not understand a single word I heard as I stood there that afternoon.  I couldn’t read any of the signs.  I was clueless.  I was helpless.  I was terrified, and I was alone – very – very – very alone.  Where had the bus station gone!  It wasn’t where I had left it.  The bus station had just disappeared!

Sweat began to pour down my back, and not just because it is about 3,000 degrees in the sun in the summer in Mexico.  It occurred to me that perhaps I would never find my family ever again.  That I was going to need to make these 4 bottles of water and this package of cookies last me for the next 40 years of my earthly life.

Then it occurred to me that maybe they had moved the bus station on purpose!  Perhaps they had decided to leave me and my annoying ways behind.  I can be rather obnoxious.  I talk a lot.  I come with far more yarn than is considered “normal” and I do perhaps have some very strong opinions on well just about everything.  Then there is the whole talking a lot thing.  No more wife and mom – just peace and quiet and sweet – sweet freedom!

I felt like Will looks in this picture – so sad . . .so miserably alone in the world. . .

Thankfully right before I started to ugly cry – Jason sent Jack to fetch me.  Jason had been keeping an eye on me from the bus station and had watched me walk out the wrong exit of the store.  You see – I am not only language impaired – I am also directionally impaired!

My hero!

Sometimes we feel lost and alone – even when other people are around.  This is what happened to the men in our Gospel reading for today.  The Gospel of Luke tells us two men are leaving Jerusalem and heading to the nearby town of Emmaus.  We don’t know why they are going to Emmaus – but we know they are heartbroken and grieving.  And they are feeling very alone in the world. 

As they walk along – they are talking over the horrible events of the past few days.  Jesus is dead.  Jesus had been arrested – tried – crucified and buried in a sealed tomb.

They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah.  The Savior – who would deliver them from their Roman oppressors.  But the Romans had killed Jesus.  So it seemed pretty obvious that Jesus was not the Messiah they had been hoping and praying for. 

Not only are they heartbroken and grieving.  They are also confused.  Just that morning – they had started hearing outrageously wild rumors.   Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were saying Jesus was alive.

But how can that be possible?  After all – dead means dead.  When people die – they stay dead.  Dead people don’t come back to life.  It is impossible that Jesus could be alive.  Those women must have literally been out of their minds with grief. 

As they walk along – trying to process their grief and sorrow – they are joined by a stranger – who asks the two friends what they are talking about.  They are shocked by the question.  How was it possible he did not know what had happened?  Everyone was talking about what had happened to Jesus of Nazareth!

So as they continue on their journey – they share their heartache and their grief with this stranger.  And he listens intently and offers them words of loving encouragement.  He shares their grief and their pain with them.

As they arrive in Emmaus it is getting dark.  So they invite the stranger to stay with them. A simple meal is prepared.  And after they are seated – the stranger picks up the bread – he blesses it – breaks the bread into pieces and gives it to them to eat. 

And in this moment their world is changed forever – because their eyes are opened and they realize the stranger isn’t a stranger after all – it is Jesus!

 Almost as soon as they realize it is Jesus – he disappears.  But the two men do not despair – because they know Jesus has been raised from the dead.  Jesus is alive!

Jesus lives!

Jesus walked with these two men.  He shared their journey and their grief.  Jesus was their traveling companion and their comforter.  He encouraged them.  Jesus walked with them and shared in their lives. 

One of the churches in Valladolid, Mexico.

And the same is true for each of us.  Jesus is with us always.  Jesus is with us – even when our sorrow and our grief make it hard for us to see him.   Even when our lives are messy and complicated.  Even when we are so busy living our lives that we don’t look for him. 

Jesus shares in our joys and in our sorrows and in those messy in between times too. 

Jesus is with us always. 

We may not always recognize him.  We may not always acknowledge him.  We may not always remember that he is here with us.  But Jesus is always here.  Jesus is always with us to share in whatever life brings our way.  You are never alone.  Not even during these strange – unprecedented days.  Your Lord is with you always.  Truly this is Good News.  AMEN.

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