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Encounters on the Road

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on April 19, 2023

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 
—from Luke 24:13-35

I’ve been privileged to be part of a clergy colleague group these past seven years that always gathers the second week of Easter. We all lead large, complex systems across the United States, and it never fails to be inspiring, supportive, and helpful. While there is plenty of conversation around best practices, creativity, and denominational trends, that doesn’t fully capture the gathering each year. 

We invite a speaker from one of various disciplines, and there is rich intellectual engagement and conversation. We each have an opportunity to share our experience, both personal and professional, from the past year. Some years there are new members. Other years there are not. Most years we bid farewell to someone who is retiring. Each day begins and ends with prayer.

I always have an Easter moment—some exchange, formal or informal, where I depart knowing I have seen the Risen Christ.

This celebration of the Great Fifty Days is an invitation to pay attention to those resurrection moments. We are called to rejoice and tell one another about the holy moments of surprise when the simplest conversation or encounter becomes a gateway to the holy. While many of us adopt disciplines during Lent to facilitate these encounters, the Easter season is a bit different. It provides a chance to open ourselves to the surprise of having an unexpected encounter and then talking about it. When we share the experience, we find that Jesus has not just been present in our story but was also down the road at the same time appearing to someone else.

Resurrection moments may start as a personal experience, but to be the full Body of Christ it has to extend to a sharing of the good news. Where did you last experience the gift of new life? Was it a surprise? Who did you want to tell about it? My prayer for all of us this season is that we have eyes to see and ears to hear the many ways in which Jesus is showing up in our lives and in the world. To be harvesters of hope is an important antidote to despair and hopelessness. 
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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