“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”
By Paul Fromberg
My friend Andy – he’s the bishop of Texas now – wrote a six word autobiography a couple of years ago: Met Jesus on Pilgrimage, still walking.
Andy was 11 year old when he spent nine days walking 168 miles across Mexico from San Miguel de Allende to San Juan de Los Lagos with his father. He didn’t know what he would find. And he found Jesus.
To be a pilgrim is to be ready for surprise.
Cleopas and his companion are walking the road away from Jerusalem. They had seen so much in the prior days. Death and life had been mashed together and made into something they had no way of understanding. It’s possible that the person walking the road with Cleopas, the unnamed individual he is pilgriming with is his wife. And it’s possible that the woman called Mary the wife of Clopas, one of the women who watched as Jesus was executed on the cross and then went to the empty tomb is the same person. So Cleopas is walking the road with someone who has seen the death of Jesus and has seen the empty tomb of Jesus.
And still they have no clue that the stranger they meet on the road is Jesus. Which suggests that witnessing the empty tomb is not the same as witnessing the resurrection. The absence of death isn’t the same as the presence of life. Death isn’t an end in itself. The death of Jesus isn’t the end of the story. There is something else that needs to fill that empty space.
A stranger joins these two pilgrims on the road that leads away from the cross and the tomb, and in one of the most famously unrecorded sermons of all times, he explains himself to them in such a way that their hearts burned within them. Or as you might have experienced, they put their hearts in something that was simply beyond their experience.
Baptism begins a pilgrimage. We put our hearts into an experience that is simply beyond our experience. And like my friend Andy, it may change our lives.
Paul Fromberg is the rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.