The bus to Emmaeus – a modern parable

For anyone who has ever had their deepest dreams dashed in an instant, the post-crucifixion story of Emmaeus can provide much hope in the midst of a paralyzing darkness. In this narrative, those who had spent everything, risked everything, left everything and hoped everything to follow the strange but alluring sage from Gallilee had watched him die. With that death came not merely the loss of he who had crystallized their emerging faith in a good, grace-giving God, but most likely any further vestiges of such faith in anything potentially like it in the future. Truly, for them, the world held no hope anymore. All was dark.

Unless you keep reading…

It was he who spoke first.  “Man, you guys look like someone died or something.  Is everything all right?” Pausing at first, but sensing that it was safe to speak, Randall replied, “Yeah, sure.  There’s nothing quite like following some guy for three years only to have his head blown off by some radical lunatic.”

“For sure”, Arvid added, “we finally find a cause that we can sink our teeth into and three years later my wife hates me, he’s carted off to a mock trial, crooked cops and a puppet judge.  Yeah, life’s just great.”

The man looked baffled.  Randall and Arvid looked incredulously at each other.  Then Randall said, “how is it possible that you haven’t heard what’s been happening in this town lately?”

The two men had been sitting gloomily together surveying the muddy streets from the vantage point of the Number 10 bus to down town.  They weren’t sure if it were possible to feel any more dejected.  For close to three years their world had revolved almost exclusively around one man and his revolutionary ideas.  Arvid had left behind a successful business, Randall the final year of grad school, to follow the allure of a leader whose keen sense of brotherly love, life, and justice had all but left them breathless.  He spoke of things that no one else ever had.  Arvid’s wife, June, could never figure out what the big deal was and the quaint little “group” that had formed around him seemed a little self-indulgent to her; no different than his Monday night poker pals. Grace, Randall’s wife, had taken up as a member from early on and was feeling as emotionally drained as he.

And now, the familiar bus ride to the group headquarters in a transformed office building provided about as much grief and confusion as they could stand.  Their silence had betrayed the many questions burning within them.  Why would this man mess with their lives, creating a rather large mid-life diversion for two guys who could ill afford one?  For someone who spoke so much about life, why was he now dead – shot executioner style by thugs that the tabloids were suggesting were hired by the Mayor himself?  Where was the promise of a new order?  Of a bold future?  The whole thing just seemed so ridiculous, so…pointless.

They had been revelling in their gloom, when this man to whom they now spoke, sat down, newspaper in hand, in the seat adjacent to theirs.  He seemed to be thinking.  Randall noticed it first.  His profile.  His demeanour.  Hadn’t they seen this guy before?

The conversation that followed would be the most radically transforming one they had ever had.  Not only did this guy know all the details but gave a very enlightened and revealing synopsis of the entire situation including all the reasons why.  Arvid and Randall sat dumbfounded and, for the first time since their dark weekend they sat in peace – reflective and hopeful.  They spoke excitedly among themselves for a few minutes more and as Arvid turned to speak to the man…he was gone.

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