I know I’ve told this story before. That’s one problem with long tenures, you get to repeating yourself. Our journey toward adoption was long and somewhat convoluted. I recently discovered that it was all about changing my mind, or preparing me for what was coming. That La Donna had decided long before I did that adoption was the route we had chosen, I just didn’t know it yet. She was willing to go through some of the motions in order to convince me. That’s the new part of the story. The part I intended to bring out was the day we made the decision, and made the call. We talked and thought and researched and finally decided yes, we were going to do this, and yes we knew who we were going call, which agency I mean. And we picked up the phone and started the process.
That was October 25, 1993. We got back from Scotland where we had been for five years while I worked on my doctorate and lived and worked in and around Edinburgh. I completed all the requirements for the degree and needed to stay and complete some tasks at the University while La Donna came home and set up house for us in Elkhart where I had been appointed to work as an associate pastor for youth at Trinity UMC. She came home in August and I came home almost a month later in September. That, by the way, remains my favorite move all of the moves we have made in our married life! (We’re up to 20 moves, in case you were wondering)
One of the things that brought us home was the adoption process, as foreign nationals in the UK our options were limited. So, we returned home to begin the search. So another month had passed and we finally settled on an agency and called to start. October 25, 1993. We remember that because on that same day, on the other side of the planet, Kim Myung Hoon was born to parents who couldn’t keep him. There were complications at his birth, and he received treatment and was given to an orphanage who found him a foster family to raise temporarily. We learned about him a few months later. Because we had started on the domestic adoption track, but it didn’t seem to be working for some reason. Even the workers at the agency said it was odd. Like all the sources dried up suddenly. But be patient, they counseled. It’ll happen. Finally we decided to wait a little differently and asked about international adoption. We learned it could take even longer, but sure, we could put our names on the lists. Until someone told us about the “Child of Promise” book. This was a listing of children already born, who had certain issues, medical or behavioral, that made them “unadoptable” in the normal process. We asked to see the book. We studied, and read, and wept a time or two, and we chose. And Kim Myung Hoon became Rhys Edmund Myung-hoon Weber. And our lives have never been the same. Thanks be to God.
OK, so besides the fact that I like telling that story (and you should be grateful that I shortened it considerably) what’s the point? Why bring this old story up here and now? Well, I know it is tenuous, but it was one phrase in our text for this week that took me off down this track. The very beginning of the story. Take a look.
Luke 24:13-35 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." 25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 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?" 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
On that same day. That day. You remember that day. That day when everything changed. That day when the possibilities stretched out before like a road to a new reality, a new you. That day. On that same day. Luke seems to be saying that Jesus had an agenda. You’d think rising from the dead would have been all that was on the list for the day. That’s a full day, don’t you think? Rise from the dead, and then take it easy from there. Relax a bit. Take a nap, read a book. But no, rising from the dead was only the first thing on the list that day. That day.
On the Risen Christ’s to do list was meeting some guys on a road. They were heading to Emmaus. Why? No one knows! Maybe it was home. They thought the party was over, the curtain had come down, might as well go home and remember. Maybe that’s what they were doing as they walked, rehearsing their favorite lines. Remember the bread and fish day? Of course, who could forget that? Yeah, that was a good day. Who do you say I am, remember that one. Good old Peter, he’s the one with all the answers. I was glad he broke the silence that day. Yeah, that day, that day was a hard day. Yeah, not like this one though. No, not like this one. There aren’t any harder days than this one.
Why? The simple question startled them out of their remembrances. Why is this such a hard day? They hardly know how to answer. He must have beamed down from the moon, from another dimension of time and space. How could he not know? They told him. A creed it sounds like, words the church began to use, not the normal conversational answer to an honest question, but a declaration of faith. Faith that wavered there at the end. But we had hoped. Here’s where it got real again. We had hoped. Strange stories we couldn’t believe. This day is the worst of all days.
It was his laughter at this that startled them most. How foolish, he chuckled. You had to know. What did they have to know? Everything, he told them, everything. They were enraptured in spite of themselves, their grief forgotten, their despair set aside as they listened to him tell them what they already knew but had forgotten on that terrible day. He talked on and on, every book, every scroll, every story they thought they knew but now sounded new on that day. When they got to Emmaus they didn’t want it to end, so they begged him to stay with them, to eat with them. They opened the door to their lives and He walked in and sat down with them. Then, He took the bread and broke it.
Was it the words? The motion, the gestures? Was it the bread, tearing, breaking, scattering crumbs here and there and everywhere? They felt it more than saw it. Their hearts lit up, they talked about it when they could breathe again. We’re not our hearts burning? They ran, who decided? Which one? Who knows, maybe their feet decided, maybe it was their burning hearts, but they ran. All the way back to those who would understand how this day had become that day. That day when everything changed. When the world ended and started again. But now it was different. It was all different. That same day.
They walked in the room and everything was burning. Hearts were on fire before they got there to light them up. The Lord has risen indeed. Yeah, we know, they said with a grin they couldn’t remove. We know because we saw Him. He came alongside. He taught us, then fed us. He was right there, then He wasn’t, but He is. He still is. Because He left something behind. Call it memory, call it hope, call it the Spirit, a Presence that makes His absence less frightening. We don’t know, they said, shaking their heads, but we know. Then they laughed because they knew that made no sense. We don’t know, but we know. That same day, hope was made. A family was made, hungry hearts were satisfied on that day. You remember that day? That when the whole world changed? I do.