As I did four years ago (and four year prior to that, and…), I ask the Christians of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church to pray for our newly inaugurated President and Vice-President, our Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress as well as the Supreme Court Justices. While I began writing this blog on Jan. 18 – the 2021 observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (holiday = holy day), I am completing it in the later afternoon of Jan. 20 – Inauguration Day. As former President Trump and former Vice-President Pence transition into the next phase of their lives, may we hold them in prayer. May we raise heartfelt prayers for newly inaugurated President Biden and Vice-President Harris. Regardless of your party or persuasion, may “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, … guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Writing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I could not help but think of two very different marches on Washington. One, led by Dr. King, was a holy pilgrimage deeply anchored in Holy Scripture that called us to our higher nature. The other, an assault on the Capitol, exhibited our propensity to sin, division and degradation. The first march in 1963 was the best of marches – a holy pilgrimage. The second was worst of walks.
In Dr. King’s March on Washington speech the soaring rhetoric places us before God.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ . . . I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
The words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:4-5) echoed in the cadence of his address. We are called to a holiness of heart and life, to a walk with the Lord in our daily living.
As we move into this new year of our Lord and begin the work of healing a broken nation, I offer another different walk – a walk with Christ. Any reading of the post-resurrection accounts of Jesus appearing before his disciples quickly harks back to the Risen Christ and his walk to a village called Emmaus. As the narrative ends, Jesus is revealed to those he met on the road as they broke bread at the table. Luke’s Gospel shares their recounting of the encounter.
“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?’” (Luke 24:32)
A truly outstanding ministry of the larger Church is an event known as “The Walk to Emmaus.” It is a three-day journey on an Emmaus Road that is far more than a simple spiritual retreat.
It is an encounter with the Risen Christ.
In these days of change, confusion and chaos, I commend this different kind of walk (because it’s a walk that makes a difference) …a walk with Christ to Emmaus and beyond. Having been a part of the Walk to Emmaus more than thirty times as well as sharing in Chrysalis (a youth Walk to Emmaus) and a Kairos (a prison Walk to Emmaus), I can personally testify to its blessing.
The leadership of the Central Texas branch of the United Methodist Walk to Emmaus are holding a special Walk to Emmaus experience they are calling “Hearts on Fire.” The Hearts on Fire Webinar is a way to continue to share the Emmaus experience during these times of social distancing and mask wearing due to the still raging COVID-19 pandemic. The Hearts on Fire Webinar begins at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb 4. Those interested in registering should email firstname.lastname@example.org. (I've posted the official flyer below)
I highly commend this different kind of walk to you. It is not an assault on the Capitol or even a holy pilgrimage to the Lincoln Memorial. It is a walk with Christ.