We had hoped

"We had hoped..." these words are such a small part of the story of the Emmaus road we almost miss them because of our own familiarity with the story (Luke 24:13-35). The thing is we know these words and they are always powerful in our lives. We had hoped the cancer wouldn't return. We had hoped for better results. We had hoped Peter wouldn't be out of work this long. We had hoped we would be able to make it. We had hoped... fill it in with your own story.

We have certain hopes, expectations about our life, about others for our lives and journeys. When we encounter something that throws us a curve like a disease, a death, the ending of a job, the ending of a relationship we then know what it is to be broken open to disappointment. We had hoped.

These two disciples are not immune to this. They loose their friend and teacher to a violent, shameful death. Everything looks to be failing so the way they describe this to the stranger who doesn't seem to know anything about this incredible event as we had hoped. It gives words to their deep disappointment that things didn't work out the way they had pictured they would. It gives voice to the failure of the person, the situation to live up to their expectations. Failure was not the way this Jesus, Messiah thing was supposed to end, with death, with the cross of treason, with the shame. We had hoped.

We had hoped for peace in South Sudan. We had hoped that no one would go hungry. We had hoped to not pollute the planet. We had hoped. These are not just empty broken words though. In voicing their defeat, their glimpse of failure the disciples open the door for Jesus to respond and so do we in our own lives. When we admit defeat, that we are not in control, when we surrender we get the pieces of the story that just might give us a glimpse that we are not alone.

The story says beginning with Moses and the prophets Jesus showed them that these things were to come (Luke 24:27). How many stories tell us about those who have failed or experienced disappointment, but God has never left. I think of Joseph sold into slavery then imprisoned, he never gave up dreaming or interpreting dreams because even God was in this. Or the prophet Jeremiah who predicts that bad times are happening but leaves in the days are surely coming when God will replant Israel (Jeremiah 16:14 or 23:5). The story of Jacob who plans and schemes to steal the birthright from his older brother and goes away because he fears being killed, then he wrestles with God all night and encounters his brother face to face.

We had hoped Joseph would stop dreaming of being greater than his brothers. We had hoped Jerusalem would be spared capture and captivity. We had hoped Jacob would be a good boy. See one hope might die, might become left at the cross, but on the road the possibilities come by having the scriptures opened for us, by seeing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, by being sent out to proclaim the good news that what we had hoped for has not died, just changed. Changed to the salvation story at work in our lives. What had you hoped?