New Fire – Br. Keith Nelson

Br. Keith NelsonLuke 24: 13-35

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is so mysterious, so baffling, and so awesome that we cannot hope to claim it as a personal reality on our own. We need the assistance, the encouragement, and the challenge that only other followers of the Risen Christ can provide. Individual salvation is a myth.

There are two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a pair, in the way that the Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple formed a pair at the foot of the cross, and in the way that Peter and the Beloved Disciple formed a pair at the tomb. The experience of the Risen Christ is made vividly personal and real to these two on the Emmaus road in the context of a shared journey, shared sorrow, and a moment of recognition and transfigured perception shared. A loaf of bread is broken in two, and the eyes of two disciples are opened in one flash of pure, unmediated knowledge. This is the Lord.

In body, in appearance, in manner of being, the Risen Christ is somehow changed, somehow not the same as the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. And yet in all the post-Resurrection appearances there is some continuity in the moment of recognition that leads the recognizer to know: This is the Lord. This Risen Christ ignites the spark of new perception by means of Signs – signs that ring like a bell deep in the memory and flood the present with new hope because they are strangely familiar. These disciples have seen this man break a loaf of bread in two before, with the same hands that were nailed to a cross, and with the same hands that now break another loaf of bread in two for them. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” Had their hearts burned that way before, as the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth explained the scriptures to them on the roads of Galilee and Samaria? That sign, that spark, that shared recognition lights a new fire burning within them and between them, which they carry back into life in community.

With whom have you shared the spark of Easter recognition: This is the Lord?  Is there a holy fire that burns between you and another companion on the way? This passage offers a strong encouragement to seek and cherish such companions. This Easter season may offer you the perfect opportunity to walk the Emmaus Road with a fellow disciple. You might consider deepening a spiritual friendship with renewed intention, or reaching out to someone in whom you have glimpsed the Risen Christ and in whose company you perceive Resurrection to be something personal and real.  In the words of Fr. Richard Benson, “Such was the joy of these two disciples. The conversation by the roadside prepared their hearts with holy expectations. As they partook of the blest food, they found those hopes transformed into realities. The abstract desire suddenly blazed into the fullness of personal joy. The Divine love stood forth in full revelation before them.” (1)

  1. Benson, Richard M. The Life Beyond the Grave. 


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  1. Ruth West on April 9, 2015 at 16:48

    Br. Keith, I strongly disagree with your statement,
    “Individual salvation is a myth.” I think I understand your point, i. e. if we believe, we cannot claim it without involving others- the community of believers, at least, one other who shares the joy of knowing. However, thinking of a myth as a legend, I can say with first-hand knowledge, that salvation is a reality, not just a traditional story of unknown origin. Jesus came to save us. At this time in the church year, our faith is bolstered, knowing more than ever that his sacrifice was real; our belief in his unconditional love for us, communally, and individually, is ours
    to claim. “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” He HAS; He IS; He WILL.
    Thank you. I love reading the sermons from the monastery. They truly bless me.

  2. Bonnie on April 9, 2015 at 16:45

    I had a personal, unexpected, internal vision of Jesus on the Cross (years ago) that was so picturesque and overwhelming that I could not deny it. I was NOT asleep.
    That did it.
    From that moment I knew that Jesus was the answer.
    Thanks for listening!

    Bonnie McNamara

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