The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

It could be that Emmaus serves as a symbolic place for our faith lives

Read Luke 24:13-35.

Rumor has it that Lake Wobegon does not appear on any maps of Minnesota because of a mistake made by cartographers more than a century ago. As author and humorist Garrison Keillor recounts the mystery of this mapping error, we learn that four surveyors each began at one of the four corners of the state. Proceeding to move inward, they traveled on foot at different paces and over uneven terrain. The result was that they failed to meet up as expected. When their separate maps overlapped awkwardly, Lake Wobegon got left out in the process.

In a similar way, biblical archeologists still have no idea where the little town of Emmaus might have been situated. It does not exist today, or if it does, no cartographer can say definitively where it is. Luke indicates that it was about seven miles from Jerusalem, though great controversy continues to surround three possible sites often suggested as Emmaus possibilities.

It could be that Emmaus serves as that symbolic place for our lives of faith. It is where we go when the wind empties from our sail. It's the place where we head when grief makes our compass bearings go haywire. When confused and distraught, we often stick out our thumb and hitchhike to Emmaus. Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor calls the road to Emmaus "the road of deep disappointment."

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Embracing diversity