In the few short weeks between the start of term and the exam season we spent some time looking at the Easter Story. Easter itself always occurs while the university is closed and most of us are not around Leeds. Thankfully the Easter season lasts a little longer.
Gemma offered to lead a session for us exploring the story of the road to Emmaus. In looking at the text the phrase ‘with faces downcast’ caught her eye and her imagination. From that she created a path for us to follow around the chapel. With faces downcast we could see the steps on the way. Each of these led us further into the Easter story. Along the way there were also some diversions offering places to stop, rest and ponder.
We took time to wander and reading the story as we went and taking time to turn aside and ponder as we did so.
At the first ‘turning aside’ was a plinth with an illuminated scent diffuser. There was an invitation to sit and enjoy the experience and to think about all the different senses we were using to do so. The questions were then asked ‘how do we experience Jesus?’ ‘do we ever struggle to recognise Jesus?’ ‘Why do you think God kept the travellers from recognising Jesus?’ ‘How is this significant for us today?’
The next ‘turning aside’ had a pile of texts of prophecies from the Old Testament and their fulfilments as found in the gospels. We were challenged to match up pairs and then join them together – eventually creating a paper chain of prophecy/fulfilment.
The final ‘turning aside’ was at the altar. Here a plate with broken bread on it had been placed alongside the question ‘ ‘the men only recognised Jesus when he broke the bread… why do you think this is? What does this tell us about how we should think of Jesus?’
The final steps of the path invited us to return back and discuss all that we had experienced with others.
Back at the tables over more coffee and cake a discussion developed as we thought about what it means to experience Jesus. There were all sorts of comments, but i was struck by a few. ‘We recognise the reflections of Jesus in other people and situations’ ‘ We can’t see the whole person unlike the disciples’ ‘sometimes we see God in the tiny things – like the still small voice or the mustard seed’
We also talked about the problem of creating our own versions of Jesus. We have a problem of distance in time and space so how do we keep true to who he really is? We talked about the search for the historic Jesus, but the danger that even in that we have a selective reading. We were also aware that our images and our understanding of Jesus changes as life moves on and we journey through it. That was where we saw church as being important (and we meant church in the sense of the community that discusses and shares prays and challenges and encourages)