The traveler

Luke 24:13-35

Apr 20, 2015 by

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I saw him the moment I stepped outside my office, visible through the glass front doors — the man sitting beneath the church carport. He wore a beard and a ragged sweater, and beside him lay a small hiking bag with a print evidently designed for a young girl. He was silently watching the sky and the wind-rustled bushes. I wondered why he was there. I wondered if he was waiting, hoping someone would come outside.

He seemed fine.

This was the time set aside for my sermon, I thought, which always goes worse when interrupted. I thought of the reasons it would be unsafe for a young woman to approach a man alone. I thought about how hard it is for an introvert to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I walked past the door several times before I finally swung it open.

I asked the man if he was OK. He looked up at me with the most startling, pure blue eyes and said that he was fine. He’d been passing by on the highway and had simply stopped for a few minutes to find shelter from the rain. I told him he was welcome and asked if he needed anything. “No,” he said, then, after a second’s pause, “unless you happen to have any food you could spare.”

I went back inside the church and I packed up a lunch from what was on hand, and I took it out to him in a bag for easy carrying. He thanked me, and I asked if there was anything else I could do for him. He said that he had what he needed. We smiled at each other and I turned away, went back to my sermon. I glanced out the door a while later and saw him still sitting there, eating and watching the wind. He looked peaceful, I thought, strangely . . . beautiful. The next time I looked out, he was gone.

Some days later in my prayer time I found myself thinking of this stranger, of the brief moment our paths had crossed, feeling grateful for the chance to have done some small thing to help him. I sent up a quiet intercession to God on his behalf. In the middle of the prayer, my eyes blew wide open with the force of a sudden thought — what if this hungry traveler had been the risen Jesus?

I wished, oh how desperately I wished, that I had sat down with the stranger and shared that meal.

I wondered what he, as the host of the table, might have done for me.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

Meghan Larissa Good is pastor of Albany (Ore.) Mennonite Church. She writes at where this first appeared.

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