Living Hope and Disappointment

Passage: Luke 24:13-35
Date: April 06, 2008
Preacher: Rev David Hutchinson
Guest Preacher:

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Do you have a PLACE - where you GO - when you have experienced some kind of - FAILURE - or DISAPPOINTMENT ?

There is a lookout point in Mt. Tabor Park - - where I used to like to sit - - when we lived nearer to the park. I could be alone there with my thoughts there - and think about recent events - while looking out over Southeast Portland. / I served a different church then. This was before Westminster. And I could never quite pick out the church from my spot on the hill - - but I could GUESS at - just about - where it was.

It was perfect - in that way - because some of my disappointments - or feelings of failure - - have to DO with the church.
And - to not be able to see it - directly...
But to know - about where it was...was perfect.

When I was much younger - - in grade school - - of the age when you go off to summer camp - for a month - -
- - I had another PLACE like this.
It was in the woods - - I couldn't see anything from the spot - but trees.
But it WAS a disappointment place.
A - - PRAYER - - place.
A place of - - perspective.
Over the course of the month - at camp - there were times when I felt - - left out. / Disappointed. / Away from home - and not with my FAMILIAR friends.
I was making my way - - AMONG STRANGERS.
People who didn't KNOW me -
- didn't know - how GREAT I was!
People who only knew me - by my performance in the last event.

And at times of disappointment - I could walk the PATH to this isolated spot - in the woods - and think it over. Be disappointed. Get over it. Get some perspective. Do some discernment.

One day - I found a NAMETAG there.

We all wore nametags - made of a slice of a log - with a hole in it, and worn with a string around our neck. And there was - NOT - MY nametag - - but one very similar - with the name: "Ned".

I KNEW Ned. / He was from my cabin.
And NOW - I knew Ned's secret.
He went to this place TOO.

As I think back on it now - - I can imagine the TWO of us - - walking that dirt path - - to our own Emmaus. Talking over our disappointment. Both having been on the same loosing team. What would we have said to each other.

It didn't happen. I just tossed the nametag into the woods.

But finding it - DID - make me feel better.
Like I wasn't ALONE.

I imagine that - - NOT being ALONE in their disappointment - - is one thing that held - Cleopas - and the other one together. In our Gospel reading for this morning - - two companions are walking - - down a path - - to their disappointment place: Emmaus.
Seeking - - SOLICE. Seeking - God's - - peace.

And even though they are NOT alone - - and they have each other - - they do ALSO have some LEFT ALONE feelings. Because Jesus has left. Jesus has been EXECUTED.

Their whole community - - - their CHURCH - - is gone.

Their movement - - has failed.
The thing they had put all their energy into.
Their cause - - seemed OVER.

And they say those dreadful words: "We HAD hoped"
Hope - - - in the PAST tense.

I think that maybe the CLASSIC poem of disappointment - - is that old BASEBALL poem: "Casey at the Bat".

The poem - MOVES - from describing the HOPE of a crowd - - to describing their disappointment.

First the HOPE:
"Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell - It rumbled in the mountainntops, it rattled in the dell: It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat; For Casey - mighty Casey - was ADVANCING to the bat"
"There was EASE in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place, there was pride - in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face; And when responding to the CHEERS he lightly doffed his hat,

NO - STRANGER - - in the crowd - could doubt -
- ‘twas Casey - at the bat."

And so it's like - - - here we are - at Palm Sunday again.

Jesus - riding on a donkey. Jesus doffing his hat to the crowds. / Palms waving in the air. A parade - with crows cheering. There is the HOPED for KING.
"Oh - - we HAD hoped", say those on the road to Emmaus.
Because then comes the crucifixion.
And in the poem - - here comes the disappointment:
"Oh - somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright, the band is playing - SOMEWHERE - and somewhere - HEARTS - are light; and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout, but - -
- - there is NO joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey - has struck out."

HOW - - do you FACE disappointment ?
How do you MEET it ?
What do you DO ?

Do you - - get angry - - and hurt others ?
Do you lash out ?
Do you - withdraw ?
Go off to some - special place ?

Well, One way - to overcome disappointment - is to MOVE over to the other SIDE. To get out of Mudville. Leave it all behind.

That's a response - to this poem - suggested by Garrison Keillor.

His response to the poem - is called: "Casey at Bat - the ROAD game"

Mudville is on the road - at an away game - in DUSTberg.

"Oh how we hated Casey - he was a BLOT upon the game. Every DOG in Dustberg barked - at the mention of his name. A bully - and a braggart - a cretin and a swine - - "
And I can't go on with the poem - - because the RHYME line - -
- is probably not acceptable in church. (But you get the idea)
Now - - listen to what happens - when Casey strikes out - in Dustberg:
"Oh sometimes in America - - - the sun IS shining bright, life IS joyful in America - sometimes - - and sometimes all the WORLD does seem right;
But - - there is NO joy in Dustberg - - no joy so pure - and sweet -
- - as the joy of - when the mighty Casey - fell -
- demolished at our feet !!"

One answer to disappointment - - is to get out of town.

To be on the OTHER team. To switch sides.
To crush the opponent - - in revenge.
And so maybe ONE very IMPORTANT question is this:
Who is Casey ? Is he a hero ? Or - - is he a - - bully and a braggart ?

COULD the disciples - - - change sides ?
Who - - was Jesus ?
And WHO - were the powers - who killed him ?
What was the CAUSE - - of the disappointment ?

Probably - after Jesus death - some of the disciples CONSIDERED it:
Changing sides. Supporting Pilate. Giving in.
For FEAR - - that THEY would be gotten - too.

But really - - it's NOT an option - - for these two -
- on the road - to Emmaus.

They got out of town - in another way.
They went to this place - of solice. Together.

And they found - -
- - that there is ANOTHER way - -
- - to meet life's disappointment.
Another way - to MEND - life's brokenness.
They discovered - that it can be CONVERTED.
Disappointment can be CONVERTED!
That's what they discovered - -
- - that OUT OF the very experience - - of disappointment -
- - when shared with another - -
- - out of that can come - a MEETING - -
- - with the RISEN Lord !

Christ - IS alive.

And Christ - MEETS us - and BURNS within our HEARTS.

We meet Christ -
- in the voice of a stranger -
- in a walk with a friend -
- and in - the breaking of bread.
And when we gather here - together -
- as the CHURCH.
We will not AVOID life's disappointment.....
But remember - and NEVER forget - - and proclaim this - -
- we HAVE seen -
- the RISEN Lord.
We have.

He IS risen!
He IS risen!