After living in Japan for nearly three years, I returned to the United States for my first extended stay and realized that eating out felt different. I’d become acclimated to Japanese dining where servers, who are not tipped, usually approach a table only if a customer presses a buzzer to request it. As I sat down to catch up with dear friends, we were often interrupted by servers who were graciously checking in on us. I found myself wishing for one of those buzzers. In the middle of meaningful conversations, interruptions are seldom welcome.
The two disciples traveling on the Emmaus Road are in the middle of one of those heartfelt conversations. They are processing all these things that had happened (v. 14) after Jesus’ death when someone approaches and interrupts them. We know that Jesus is the one joining them, but Cleopas’ reaction suggests that his interruption is unwelcome. In a tone somewhere between surprise and offense, Cleopas asks the stranger: where have you been the last few days?
But we would be remiss to glance over the interruption itself. In that moment, the movement away from Jerusalem literally stops. The two disciples, who were walking and talking, freeze in their tracks. They stood still, looking sad (v. 17). In the interruption, we pause to picture the forlorn disciples with puffy eyes and mouths turned downward. We hear the grief in their voices and imagine their conversation. In the interruption, we gain insight as the story takes on new depth.
It may be the same with the holy interruptions that Christ initiates on our own journeys. The interruption that seems unwelcome at first calls us to stand still, gauge and engage our emotions, and take a breath, all to receive more insight into our story.
How can you embrace life’s interruptions as opportunities from Jesus to pause and reconsider your current situation?
Gracious God, in the moments of life when you interrupt us, help us to stand still and welcome the holy pause. Amen.