A WALK FROM STRANGER TO FRIEND
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 (NRSV)
Cleopas and companion were walking along the road to Emmaus when they encountered the stranger who seemed to be oblivious to a significant event that recently transpired in Jerusalem. The death of the Messiah was on the lips and hearts of many. How could this stranger not know of this tragedy? In their grief the men could have easily dismissed the stranger. In their rush to leave town and move on with their lives, they could have shunned the man. However, Cleopas and companion engaged the stranger in conversation as they walked along the way.
Much to their surprise the man had much to teach them. Starting with Moses and all the prophets the stranger interpreted the prophecies about himself. When the three men reached the village, the stranger was invited to stay for the night. Then it happened. At the table the stranger took the bread, blessed and broke it and then gave it to Cleopas and companion. In just that moment their eyes were opened. They recognized Jesus and then he vanished.
Wow! If Cleopas and friend were not welcoming to the stranger in their midst they would have missed out on the blessings. That is usually how it works. When there is a mutual sharing of life experiences, people often come away with an encounter with Jesus. Whether we are sharing our moments of grief, of joy, or even questioning God’s purposes, we can learn so much. In relationships God can reveal to us wisdom, knowledge, truth, and amazing grace. It is in relationships with one another that we can see Jesus. Whenever the opportunity presents why not take a walk down the street or across an aisle to make a friend. I believe if we step out of our comfort zone, we very likely will see Jesus.
What Should I Say?
There we were total strangers sitting, sharing, brief introductions. One lady spoke of how her husband recently passed and somehow that led to discussion of having a gun vs. not having a gun in the house. I really liked how the conversation ended. the lady who initiated guns into the conversation said God placed into her spirit a verse from the Psalms – “whenever I am afraid I will trust God.” This comes from Psalms 56:3. Because she remembered she could trust God, she gave the gun to her son. She has been at peace.
It is amazing to me that total strangers could have this very personal conversation in merely minutes of meeting one another. The main things we had in common is that we were women, meeting for the first time in the sanctuary. I have been replaying what transpired to make it happened. Nothing special. I know i was the first to greet and introduce myself to the person next to me. I simply said I’m Candy, tell me your name. When a new person sat in the same section, I along with the person next to me, invited the newcomer to come sit closer to us. There were more introductions and then the conversation moved from there.
Strangers find themselves sitting in proximity to one another on many Sundays. wouldn’t it be nice to feel that as we enter the sanctuary we know we’re among family and friends? definitely, by the end of the worship service, it would be nice to be strangers no more. What would it take to make that happen?
Many times, strangers are uncomfortable speaking to strangers. And some of us have been strangers to one another a long time. I know sometimes we see a familiar face and we hate to ask a name. Somehow asking again will embarrass us. Sometimes we just feel too shy to be the first one to say anything. Or we just don’t know what to say. Unfortunately, we can sit next to a stranger for an hour or more and no one said a word. What if God actually orchestrated the day for the two of you to be together. And what if you both received a word from God that was intended to be shared. What if God placed you together because you both needed a reminder that He is with you.
In my summation of the process of strangers getting to know one another, it definitely start with someone been brave enough to simply say “hello, my name is ______.” If you feel as though you should already know their name, beg forgiveness and blame it on short memory. Say, “Tell me again your name, my name is ______.” I’m fairly certain if you don’t remember their name, they likely don’t remember yours.
Maybe the lesson we can all learn is what was whispered in the hear of my seat mate. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3