opened: fourth and final part in a series on the road ahead
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (Luke 24: 28-35)
In this final part of this series on the road ahead, I want to suggest that paying attention to what’s been revealed in this season will be key for us in future travel. “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” is how the reveal unfolds in the Emmaus narrative. Like the picture above from the Wizard of Oz, the Son of Man is uncovered and the curtain is pulled back. Facing an uncertain future and responding with fearful wandering, the disciple couple’s eyes are opened and Jesus is revealed at the heart of things.
In our cultural moment, some are describing the past three months dire and even apocalyptic. Recently, I’ve come to understand the term apocalypse in a different way through the useful work of Bible scholar Tim Mackey. Tim and his co-host Jon Collins are part of the Bible Project Recently, their engaging and whimsical podcast focused on understanding apocalyptic literature.
With memories of Frances Ford Coppola, our modern understanding of apocalypse is “the end of the world.” However, Mackey and Collins clarify the original Greek translation which is “revelation or uncovering something about God’s design.” They explain there are cosmic apocalypses which reveal something about the big picture like the prophet Ezekiel’s psychedelic vision as well as personal apocalypses like Jesus’ father Joseph who had a dream that led him to leave Bethlehem to protect his family. In the Bible, apocalypses reveal something about God as well as ourselves and the world rather than a doomsday scenario. At this time when things seem like they are unraveling, I find it helpful to reframe with an orientation toward revealing.
My friend Tanner Smith, a leader for the Harbor Churches Network in West Michigan, asked his staff, “When this pandemic is done, what are you going to hold on to from this season?” I translate this as what has been revealed? I found this such a generative question for myself and for posing to others. Things have been revealed and uncovered during this time of apocalypse in 2020. As I sought to respond to this question, I found a number of things that were revealed as things to hold on to.
- The goodness of fellowship and gathering. I’m literally allowing myself to stop at a social distance for conversations with strangers. As an introvert, it’s not often that I am drawn toward schmoozing. My wife is now officially worried about how many outdoor dinner parties I’ll want to have post-pandemic.
- Making space for the individualized nature of learning as well as making structures to help support this individualization. I’ve seen the value of this for my children as well as in the heroes of Journey Academy.
- The drive to be outside as much as possible. I will keep walking and noticing things like the moon and trees. I’ve started to imagine a hiking pilgrimage on the Camino or the Appalachian in my future.
- Gratitude for increased family opportunities. May Euchre continue.
- My awareness of time has changed. There are no lacrosse practices, choir concerts and larger family gatherings. But everything takes more time from a distance. Subsequently expectations are recalibrated. I’ve accepted a limit to my endless ambitions.
- This time away from a church building and structured gatherings has pushed me toward taking personal responsibility for my faith as well as shepherding the people around me. I’ve recognized some rhythms and practices that will remain.
- I have had to be more intentional about strengthening the relationships around me. With my altered sense of time, I’m keeping track of who I have connected with and when the last time has been.
- I have grown in my compassion for others. I’m amazed at the brave checkout people at our local grocery store and I have been thanking them consistently.
- I have been inspired by the examples of people humbly serving. Thank goodness for John Krasinski and Some Good News. I want to keep this treasure hunting instinct going.
- Writing for my life brings me joy and purpose. I want to keep this blogging going. I know an eight minute read can ask for some stamina. And I appreciate the patience of those who have stuck with me. And I know we’re conditioned to “view the Tik-Tok, like the Tik-Tok and move on.” In responding to complex and unsettling times like these, my crock-pot-kind-of-brain needs to stew and break things down.
What apocalypses have you experienced in this time?
I am grateful for these walking-talking apocalypses. These revelations have changed me; and so much has been uncovered. I believe that it has not only been for me personally but also for Journey Academy as well.
- At Journey Academy, the joy of the quest has been revealed as the heroes strive to defeat the nefarious Dr. Tyrannical. This joy will continue to be a marker for us.
- The distance has allowed Miss Cheryl and Ms. Sarah opportunities to step back and listen even more to the heroes about what they need with studio gatherings as well as individual times. Listening to Jaina led to joyful P.E. sessions. Listening to the ES heroes led Miss Cheryl to revise the meeting rhythm for this last quest. This simple but enduring revelation will guide us.
- We’ve seen heroes at home strengthen their learner-driven process. Myla blew Ms. Sarah away with her tracking, reporting and accountability on her reading and math goals. She took on extra work in order to document that she met her goals for reading. She read her self-selected biography on Harriet Tubman three times in order to prepare for her extemporaneous book talk focused on learning from a historical hero’s life. As Christi Gilbert, a Journey parent, notes there is some “magic” that’s happening. We are paying attention and looking to support this in the road ahead.
These revelations have strengthened us in our resolution to pursue learner-driven, curiosity-based, courage-filled and Christ-centered practice as a school. These uncoverings will guide us as we travel into the new year.
At the same time, I know much bad as well as sad has been revealed as well in our world. And we need to step in humbly listening with courage and curiosity. I’m reminded of Romans 8:19 which says “creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” We are all waiting for these individual apocalypses. Heroes are needed; and each of us need to realize we are the heroes that are needed. We need to rise and respond to our world around us.
My prayer is for God to show how myself and Journey Academy can learn from the revealing and uncovering of this past season and humbly respond. How can we hold on to the good things and how can we change the bad things? May our eyes be opened to see.