Holy Land Dispatch - Day Twelve: Garden Tomb
During this trip to the Holy Land, I had the opportunity to officiate at a service of Holy Communion with our group of pilgrims at the Garden Tomb.
There is some debate as to whether the Garden Tomb complex just outside the Old City in Jerusalem is the actual site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. I have to admit, each time I hear the arguments for the Garden Tomb as the actual site, I am swayed a bit.
Having the opportunity to officiate at a Communion service in the Holy Land is always an honor, but this year was very special. As I stood before our group, I felt the presence of Christ so deeply it moved me to tears.
The reading I chose for the services was from Luke chapter 24--the story of the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
These two followers of Jesus were heading out of Jerusalem, presumably to ensure that they weren't caught up in any further arrests. Jesus meets them on the road, but they don't recognize him until he broke bread with them in an inn along the way.
The text reveals their response:
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”When I stood there before the group in the Holy Land, breaking bread and speaking the words of Institution, I felt the presence of Christ all around us, in us and through us. It wasn't a remembrance--it was an experience. I knew Jesus was there, and so did everyone else.
Today I read this incredible quote from E. Stanley Jones about the disciple's reactions to the Risen Jesus:
"[The disciples] went out not remembering Christ, but experiencing him. He was not a mere fair and beautiful story to remember with gratitude--he was a living, redemptive, actual presence then and there."May you experience Jesus today as you journey on your path. May your heart burn within you when you hear words of grace and peace spoken, knowing they come from Jesus' own spirit, his own voice. May you eyes be opened and your soul be renewed.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.