Luke does not see the world through rose-colored glasses. Paul does not write that “all things work together for good” as though evil is not real. The Bible does not tell a story of the power of positive thinking to defeat the power of negativity. The Bible tells the story of God redeeming a fallen world. The Bible tells a story of God providing the gifts we need to walk the pathways of fiery trials, not to avoid them.
The wisdom of the story of Paul preaching in Athens is that the prevalence of idols in a culture is not an indication that God is no longer needed. It indicates the opposite—that the culture is desperately seeking what God offers—good news, the bold and provocative message that Jesus rose from the dead and so will we.
Not knowing the way precisely where Jesus will lead us much of the time goes with the territory of discipleship.
This sacrament is not an exercise in nostalgia, though it is remembrance; here at this table, the past, present, and future are joined in a meal that gives us a glimpse of the kingdom of God, even in the presence of our enemy, whether that enemy is human, virus, or death itself.
When Jesus meets the broken-hearted disciples, he first walks alongside them, listens, he lets them tell their story even if they are not aware that it is the story of Jesus’s suffering too. Then, he opens the scripture to them, so their hearts gradually move from broken to burning within them.
This moment will not last forever. We will get back together physically when it is safe to do so, but we will not be the same. We will, like the resurrected Jesus, still bear the scars of this wilderness journey.