May 8, 2011: Stay With Me Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Risen Savior, You are so kind, so loving, so careful to protect Your family of faith, and so concerned about our welfare; because of all this we are grateful to be in Your presence and grateful to have You dwell in our hearts. Lord, do not ever leave or forsake us! And never allow our joyous, burning hearts to flicker out. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR COMFORTING LORD!

TEXT: Luke 24: 13-35

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Do you know what today is? Yes, it is the 2nd Sunday after Easter—the two disciples on the road to Emmaus day. Yes, it is Mother’s Day—you forget that fact at your peril! Yes, it is May 8th. And it’s obviously the birth date of more than a few people. Nonetheless, today I’m going to rename this Sunday. And I’m going to explain why I want to call it:

STAY WITH ME SUNDAY

I

Her name is Christine. She and her husband are blest with a darling little boy, Michael, age 4. Seven months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. It was quite devastating. Her cancer was an aggressive type that only women get. She felt very alone and very vulnerable. Her doctors agreed that immediate surgery was not the route to follow. Instead, they would try to shrink the cancer first through aggressive therapy and diet. So, she jumped into that therapy with both feet. And now, it has worked! Now, her surgery has been successful. The cancer is gone. She is on the mend. Thanks be to God!

Michael knew that Mommy was sick. And during the past few months he has been good as gold. Almost instinctively he realized he needed to support her by the only way he knew how—never upsetting her or putting demands upon her. However, since her successful surgery, Michael has been acting out a bit. He has taken to following her everywhere—literally! He demands: “Mommy, stay with me. I don’t want you to leave me ever.” And with her loving heart melting, she has resolved to do just that. She knows that she is his emotional security blanket.

All mothers can especially relate to that little four-year olds cry. “Mommy, stay with me” encapsulates the reason behind Mother’s Day, doesn’t it? Moms are special. Moms give us life. Moms are always there, hopefully, to calm all hurts. Moms are our earthly security blankets. Even dads recognize this and never try to stand in the way of a mother’s love, but instead to celebrate and encourage it.

II

Those two disciples headed for Emmaus on Easter afternoon were St. Luke and Cleopas. Both were followers of Jesus, members of the 70, the greater group of disciples. They talked and discussed the rumors swirling around Christ and reports of His resurrection as they walked along. Suddenly, a man met them on the road and walked with them. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” With downcast faces, Cleopas replies for both about the sad events that have transpired in Jerusalem. They tell this man about Jesus of Nazareth, God’s prophet. They speak of His arrest, crucifixion and death. They speak of how He was going to redeem Israel and somehow make God’s people worthy of God’s favor and blessings. They speak of the women’s reports of resurrection and of angel’s appearing to some of the followers. They then tell of others going to the tomb and finding nothing. They are frustrated, sad, and cannot make sense of any of this.

At that point this Man takes over the conversation. He gives them a tough love rebuke: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ (the promised Messiah) have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And then Luke adds: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets (the entire Old Testament) he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Ah, there’s the tip-off. Years later, when Luke writes this down, he knows that the Man is the resurrected Lord. Who better to explain about Himself? After all, He caused the Bible to be written in order to confess Himself to the world.

They approach Emmaus and Jesus acts as if He’s about to travel on further. “But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening, the day is almost over.” And stay with them He does. They enter a house and sit down to eat. Before partaking, Jesus takes the bread and prays over it. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'” Immediately they get up and returned the 12 miles to Jerusalem—no doubt running all the way. They seek out the Eleven in the Upper Room, burst in and were about the tell them their news when the other disciples beat them to it: “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” The Eleven share this news with them before thy can even speak.—Such soul saving news cannot be kept to oneself, you know. And then Luke and Cleopas repeat their good news as well. And humanly speaking, it all came into fruition through that heart-burning, simple soul-searing request: “Stay with us.”

III

God never meant for humans to be alone. Adam was alone and God created Eve so that he wouldn’t be. Likewise, God has created for us: families, friends, relatives, and loved ones. He has given them to us. Because of sinful egos seeking to impose their will upon others, often times these relationships break down. Often times we find ourselves not enjoying the company of these fellow earthly travelers. Often times we long to be alone and to have total peace and quiet. But then, when it arrives, soon we find ourselves anxious, cranky, nervous, and even afraid to be alone, to not have the comforting presence of someone who will listen instead of dictate, who will comfort instead of being judgmental, who will feed our souls instead of sucking us dry emotionally and spiritually.

My friends, God knows your thoughts and needs in this matter. That’s why He has sent you His Son, Jesus. Christ Who says: “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Christ Who makes the promise: “Lo, I am with you always.” Christ Who listens to our problems and anxieties in prayer, and then comes with His strength and peace with the forgiveness of our sins via our baptism, via the Lord’s Supper, and via His Word of promised forgiveness in the absolution. Jesus has put His burning ember into your hearts. Jesus Himself prays for you this way: “Father, forgive them.” Jesus Himself brings to us the peace of God, our peace with God, and His resurrection proves it.

For all these reasons, Stay With Me, is not just the cry of an upset child for his mother; no, it is the cry of a heart on fire for the Savior’s love and compassion. And just as it was then at Emmaus and in Jerusalem, so it is now.—For, stay with me He does! And the connecting point for that staying is simple, humble faith that He gives to us! So, on this STAY WITH ME SUNDAY, our risen Jesus now says to each of you: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.” Amen

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