Barbara Ann Budde ’75, ’80 M.A.

Two disciples, who are frightened and grieving, hurry away from Jerusalem. On their way, they encounter a stranger. The ensuing conversation so inflames their hearts that they invite the stranger to share a meal with them. In the breaking of the bread, they recognize the risen Jesus and their world is transformed.

This passage from the Gospel of Luke expresses the way we Christians have encountered the risen Jesus ever since –the community breaking open God’s word and sharing the bread and cup of the Eucharist. For these past several weeks most of us have been unable to gather as a community around the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. We come to this Easter Season with a deep and profound sense of loss. It is as if we, like our Hebrew ancestors, are still wandering the in desert longing for the Promised Land and freedom.

In the midst of this loss, we can still feast on God’s Word. We know that the Eucharist is being celebrated, even if we cannot share in it physically. Jesus is raised and is in our midst. We witness risen life in the love and selflessness that exists in so many during this pandemic.

With so many of us engaging in social distancing, it strikes me that meditating on what it means to welcome the stranger might be a fruitful exercise, particularly as we look forward to the return of communal life. Who might be the stranger God will send to us that will set our hearts on fire? With whom will we break bread and recognize the risen Lord with us? Will we be ready to invite that stranger into our lives?