Fred Snodgrass made one mistake and the world never let him forget it. Snodgrass was playing center field for the New York Giants in the 1912 World Series against the Red Sox. The teams were tied in the tenth inning when a fly ball fell into Snodgrass’s mitt—and he dropped it. The Red Sox won the series, and the error stuck with Snodgrass the rest of his life.
When read in its entirety, Luke’s 24th chapter tells the story of Christ’s resurrection in much the same way that we as parents and family members narrate the birth of a child. Though we have prepared for the arrival of the new family member, the onset of labor announces that nothing will be as we’ve imagined.
My mother’s generation of women was raised to expect that families would depend financially on the husband’s income. My mother is lively and creative, and as a child she wanted to be a doctor—but women just didn’t do that. When her husband left her, her creativity and energy were channeled into supporting three children on the small income from a job initially intended to supplement the family’s welfare and provide a personal challenge.
The risen Christ breaks bread in Emmaus and then eats fish in Jerusalem. Easter, or at least the first Easter as Luke describes it, is not as much about an empty tomb as about food. Jesus spends Easter Day eating. His followers celebrate Easter not at an empty tomb, but around a table. So we might consider Easter as a multicourse meal rather than a trip to the empty tomb, and experience resurrection by eating.
A funny thing happened to a pastor friend of mine. His congregation was baptizing a family in a river that ran not far from the Hispanic church that he served. As the newly baptized members came out of the water he handed them their baptismal certificates. Afterward, in true Latino fashion, they celebrated a fiesta.
Christians tend to compare their personal conversion experiences to Saul’s encounter on the road to Damascus. Not all of us, of course, talk freely about what happened in us and to us on the way to becoming Christian. Our levels of comfort with such talk vary widely depending on our congregational culture, our notions of evangelism and our ability to be self-revelatory. But when we do think about that journey, and when we’re willing to talk about it, we say that our conversion was—or was not—a Damascus Road. We tell our young people that their experience does not need to be a Damascus Road experience, although it can be. There are many paths of Christian transformation—and the light from heaven is only one of them.