Look Up and Listen Closely – Walking Toward the Sunrise

A Devotional Word from Our Renewal Consultant Rev. Robert Naylor

(The physical distancing realities have caused me to be unable to complete a key element in our shared renewal process, The Teaming and Dreaming event.  However I will soon be sending along to you the first part of my full Rebirth and Renewal of First Church of Pembroke report.  As a reminder that I still have you, my new friends in Christ, in my thoughts and prayers, I felt I needed to share with you a hope focused devotional.  You will be walking through Holy Week in a social distance way this year with Pastor Fred.  I celebrate the calming pastoral and reflective presence he has brought to the church.  My reflection is based on one of my favorite post Easter morning passages of Scripture.  I send my prayers and thoughts to you for a most blessed Holy Week and joyous Easter.)

Luke 24:13-35 – The Emmaus Road

The Emmaus Road by Internationally Known Artist and Dear Friend, Daniel Bonnell

Two followers of Jesus are walking down the Emmaus Rd. traveling to Jerusalem.  The sun appears to be setting.  They are traveling west from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  The sun was probably in their eyes.  They were discussing the tragic realities surrounding Jesus’ death.  It would appear they had not grasped the news of his resurrection shared by the Easter morning visitors to the tomb.  They were disheartened and saw no light ahead.  Their hearts filled with sorrow and fear; their shoulders rounded and eyes staring toward the ground, they fail to recognized that Jesus walks with them.  Their minds are racing and the cries of loss are ringing in their ears.  The stranger finally breaks into their sullen discussion and reminds them of the prophets’ words about the messiah.  But his words largely fail to renew their souls.  My artist friend, Daniel Bonnell, in his painting of this passage of Scripture gives the three travelers minimal visibility in his painting – look in the lower right corner.  In speaking with him he said:  “The bright colors represent that God is all around them but they fail to see God’s presence because of their turning inward in fear and sorrow.”

As you will note from the Scriptures, for some reason they invite the unrecognized Jesus to stay with them because it is near nightfall.  Their meal together becomes a turning point.  Jesus breaks the bread and in gentle, almost whispered, tones speaks of new life, the message of resurrection!  Then Jesus disappears, but his spirit lingers in their souls.   

32 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?”

And they have what might be called (not heartburn) but soul burn.  And they return to the place they feared with joy in their hearts.  In the morning as the sun is rising they begin a journey back to Jerusalem – to start a new, resurrected beginning of proclaiming “Jesus is Lord.”  The heat of Jesus’ presence burned away their anger at Jesus’ enemies, their fear that all was lost, their wavering faith that sucked the life out of their hope.  For them it is no longer the sunset of darkness but the sunrise of a new and hope-filled day.

The Emmaus anecdote for overcoming sunset and darkness is worthy noting as we live our lives as individuals and as a community of faith.  LOOK UP and see the sunrise of new life and new dreams.  Listen closely for the Spirit’s mummerings and attentively to the stories of those who have the image of God planted within their souls. 

I believe the members of First Church have passed through the sunset days of darkness and are awaking to the sunrise morning of resurrection.  Look up and see God in nature and each other!  Let us walk the morning road back to Jerusalem.

(Stay physically distanced while staying as close as possible spiritually!  Looking forward to being with you in person soon!)

In Christ,


Prayer – God of new life, Holy Week may be just what we need. Help us to make the most of what it offers.  We feel locked in physically and spiritually.  We are locked into our fears, our negative thoughts, our hardened judgments of others.  Tomb liberating Lord, through the remembrance of the hopeful hosannas, the servant foot washing by Jesus, the painful cry of forgiveness from the cross help us in breaking our isolation from you and one another.  Risen Lord, help us to lift our heads in praise to you and join our hearts with others as we proclaim that every morning is Easter morning from now on and the past is over and gone.  Amen.

The Emmaus Song – The Gaithers

Sunrise Meditative Music

A social distancing thought for an Emmaus Rd. breaking bread together moment.  Have a coffee break / table fellowship phone or other technology-based contact with another church member.  Maybe even a person you don’t know that well!