Monday, April 25, 2011

20. Jesus Appears at Emmaus (Gay Passion of Christ series)

20. Jesus Appears at Emmaus (from The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision) by Douglas Blanchard

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” -- Luke 24:30-31 (RSV)

A couple of Jesus’ friends met a stranger on the way to a village called Emmaus. While they were traveling together, they told the stranger about Jesus: the hopes he stirred in them, his horrific execution, and Mary's unbelievable story that he was still alive. Their hearts burned as the stranger reframed it for them, revealing how all things can work together for good. They convinced him to stay and have dinner with them in Emmaus. As the meal began, he blessed the bread and gave it to them. It was one of those moments when you suddenly recognize the presence of God. The stranger was Jesus! He had been with them all along. Sometimes even devout Christians are unable to see God’s image in people who are strangers to them, such as LGBT people or others who have been marginalized. Sometimes people are blind to their own sacred worth as incarnations of the divine. But at any moment, the grace of an unexpected encounter may open our eyes.

God, help me to recognize you.
Next: 21. Jesus Appears to His Friends

More resources:
A Broken Church, and the Return from Emmaus (Queering the Church Blog)

This is part of a series based on “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a set of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard, with text by Kittredge Cherry

Click to go to the beginning
or view the whole series.

Scripture quotation is from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Trudie said...

One of the marvelous things about this spectacular series is that I am, in fact, seeing the paintings by Doug that I hadn't really had a chance to see before. This is a lovely one, and shows something very endearing about his wondrous vision.

It also fits very well indeed with another book I've just discovered -- Gene Robinson's "In the Eye of the Storm". This painting has for me the same type of joyful and uplifting feel as that book.

KittKatt said...

Like you, Trudie, I find that this series gave me the opportunity to stop and reflect on some of the paintings in the series that I had skimmed over before. When I saw all 24 paintings hanging together, it was easy to get distracted by the more dramatic scenes and overlook this one, where Jesus appears in an ordinary restaurant. That is in keeping with the point of the Emmaus story -- that Christ is with us in our daily lives, but we may not recognize it. Thank you for making the connection to Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson’s book.

Terence Weldon said...

The Australian theologian Michael B Kelly has a reading of the Emmaus meeting which I believe makes it one of the most important of all the Bible stories for queer Christians. He begins by considering the context: these disciples had left Jerusalem in disappointment, where the recognized leaders of the new faith were holed up in fear, refusing to believe the truth of the resurrection. After the encounter with the risen Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, to proclaim the truth of the Resurrection.

The power of Kelly's telling comes by imagining these two as gay men or lesbians. We as modern queer Christians likewise often find we must turn our backs on the mainstream church and its leaders, who fail to see the real truth of Christ and his resurrection, replacing it instead with layers of man-made rules. For us, we may need to meet the Lord outside the churches. Having done so, we have an obligation to return to them, as the disciples returned from Emmaus to Jerusalem, proclaiming to them the truth of Christ, whose reality and message have been buried - but whom we have encountered afresh.

KittKatt said...

It’s enlightening to view the disciples who left for Emmaus as LGBT people who left the church -- and then found Jesus on the outside! Thank you, Terry, for sharing this queer-friendly interpretation.

I know many LGBT people who left the church and found God apart from any institution… but many never return to the church to tell the good news of God’s presence. This makes me wonder why the disciples in Emmaus decided to return. I looked back at Luke’s Gospel, which simply says, “And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.”

If I revise these meditations to use again in the future, I will definitely incorporate the new understanding from you and Michael B. Kelley. Thank you!