There are a variety of metaphors for the experience of a “thin” place, when God’s presence breaks into our lives in a life-changing way. What brings about these experiences is often when the “normal” lives we’ve built begin to crumble or completely collapse. When Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, looking for something Jesus had, but not quite sure what that was, Jesus used the metaphor of being “born again”.  The metaphor of being blind, and then seeing everything in new ways is part of the blind man being healed (John 9), but is most famously captured by John Newton in his epic hymn, Amazing Grace – “I was blind, but now I see.”  

Whenever the presence of the living Spirit of God collides with our lives, something new is set free. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” People trapped in the darkness of despair suddenly experience the bright light of hope. People drowning in drugs and alcohol know peace and sobriety. When anger is released and fears faced, people are set free of the shame.  People plodding through each day with no direction or purpose suddenly hear the call of God that energizes and directs, so that which was experienced in black and white, bursts forth in vibrant color.    

This is what I know from both my personal experience of God’s sudden intervention and my role as the pastor walking with people whose lives God’s Spirit has touched:  Whenever God does something new in our lives, that something new is so very, very fragile, and needs protection and nurture just like one would with a new born. Making a decision to follow Jesus toward new life is an amazing moment, but if we take no action to start the walk of faith, staying so very close to the protection of God’s presence and other people on the journey, the flickering new life is in grave danger of fading away. The reason is the old ways and habits…our internal demons if you will…take a cigarette break, then move right back into our lives with a vengeance. Most, if not all the people who have ever held a cardboard sign on an Easter morning know this to be true. Whatever the “born again” experience was that changed their lives, it needed to be protected and nurtured with new practices that created new habits. If not, the gift God’s Spirit had given them (me) withered and died.  

This Sunday, Jan Reynolds and I will share what we’ve learned about turning those “God moments” into lives that experience the promises of God over the long haul of life. Hint: It is about developing the simple lifestyle of connecting with God, growing in community, and serving the world around us. Both as Pastors, and Jan as a Spiritual Director, we have sought to cooperate with the Spirit of God as we support people nurturing their souls and experiencing the life Jesus promises in the Spirit today. That answer has always been not wasting the pain and struggle of life, but instead letting the pain and struggle of life open us to the holy work of God’s spirit.  

This story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus will be our reading this Sunday.
The larger story is Luke 24:13-35. Here is a portion of that story (Luke 24:28-36):  

As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!” The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized the Lord when he broke the bread. While the two were telling them this, suddenly the Lord himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”