As They Walked…
A Meditation for Communion
April 23, 2017
In 1938, Majorie Courtenay-Latimer was a museum curator in South Africa. Through her work, she was constantly collecting unusual rocks, feathers, shells and other items for the museum where she was employed. As a result, she had made it know to locals far and wide that she was interested in any unusual object that they came across in the day to day affairs of their lives.
And so it was that one day, Latimer received word of an unusual fish that a local had captured in his net and had brought into one of the nearby docks. When Latimer arrived, she could not believe her eyes, the fish that had been caught looked for all the world to her to be a Coelacanth – a prehistoric fish that scientists, at the time, believed had not swam in the waters of the earth for millions of years. It would take several weeks and a lot of hard work on Latimer’s behalf but ultimately the strange looking fish that had been caught in the net was indeed confirmed to be a Coelacanth. Though it would be over 10 more years before a second fish of the same species was caught alive, what experts learned on that fateful day as a result of the Latimer discovery is that this prehistoric looking creature that science said had been dead for centuries had actually been alive all along at least in that particular section of the Indian Ocean.
I think about that story in light of one of the basic points of the post Easter stories. Above all else, these stories made it clear through their recalling of Jesus’ various appearances to his followers that he was, without question, alive. He was still on earth and even though they themselves had not yet seen him, they did not need to doubt his presence.
This point is driven home even further in Luke 24 in the famous Emmaus Road story. For the early believers, as for us as believers today, belief and proof, have always gone hand in hand. We believe in what we can see, what we can touch, what we know to be true.
So, even though some of the women among Jesus followers claimed to have seen Jesus alive earlier that same day, neither of the two disciples here in the Emmaus story had yet seen him for themselves, and thus, they did not believe.
What further lead to the interesting nature of their comments in this story is that Jesus, as a stranger, actually walked with them as they declared their doubt. Thus the story of their walk and their conversation serves as a profound statement and vivid reminder that in spite of our intuition to only believe that which we know to be true, when it comes to matters of faith, just because we have not laid our eyes on Jesus’ in clear and obvious ways in recent hours, we should never doubt his presence. Jesus is most clearly with us. He is far, far closer than we might believe or imagine at all times whether he presence is obvious or palpable or not.
The inability to see Jesus or to know his presence in a clear unmistakable way is always our issue not that of God. There is always more going on in our midst than we can see or perceive. Our job becomes trusting in this truth, believing in it and building our lives around it.
Today, the simply truth for us to accept and to believe is this basic reminder that God through his spirit is there and here with us at all times and in all of life’s journeys. This is true whether we sense it or not – just as it was true for the two Emmaus Road travelers on that first Easter Sunday. They did not recognize that Jesus was there though he most certainly was.
Just this past week, I was driving down West Main street while searching my car for my keys. I have a lot of keys that I carry around with me and I have a bad habit of carrying them in two sets rather than one. One set is my car key and my house key. The other set is composed of all of my church keys. While I have the ability with my key ring to attach the two sets to one another, I have the ability to detach them and often I will only carry the car key and the house key because it is some much simpler and less cumbersome. Thus there I was driving down West Main thinking I had left all of the church keys at home while driving to a meeting. I had looked in the spot I usually place them in my car and they were not there thus my conclusion that they had been left at home. Mad at myself, I turned around in the parking lot of Lauren’s Drugs and was driving back home when I happened to glance down and see that all of my keys were dangling from my ignition. They were all there, right in front of my face, but I had not seen them and thus decided that since I could not quickly lay my eyes on them they must not be there.
Here is the funny thing and the connection I want to make. As humans, we only see in part. We only know in part. We only have a portion of the story. We are human and thus this is the way it simply is. And, so, how is it that we think we have the forethought or wisdom to clearly name where God is and where God is not. God says, “I am with you and all times and in all ways from now and forevermore”. That should be our hope and what we trust in – always. Amen.