Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

Year A

Third Sunday of Easter


April 26, 2020

Revised Common Lectionary

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Paintbox. If you're new to the site, you can learn more by visiting the about page. Each week you'll find links to interdisciplinary lessons followed by my collecting question for the week and then my personal reflection.

This week, I’m wondering about what those on the road to Emmaus with Jesus must have experienced while he was with them that made them want him to stay a while longer. And I’m thinking about how their experience of wanting to linger in the moment might resonate with us in these days.



Current Events & World Affairs

Coronovirus Will Change the World Permanently: Here’s How

Politico Magazine

Politico Magazine

Article in which Politico Magazine writers interview 30 macro thinkers about how they believe the coronavirus pandemic will reshape society.

Notice which predictions of how we might emerge changed are most compelling and convincing to you.

Open in a new tab


Where is your heart wanting to linger in these days?


Walking the road to Emmaus, as if waking from a long dream, were two friends who not so long ago had likely not even known each other. Their lives had intersected in the company of the teacher who had unsettled them, compelled them, and changed them for good.

Now, the teacher had been killed as a criminal. Unjustly. Gruesomely.

And these friends were together, on this road, considering reports that further disturbed them. Reports by women who astounded them, claiming they had seen visions of angels telling them the teacher had risen. A dead man alive again.

It was not the first time they’d heard such. After all, there was Lazarus. And then, too, the reports on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion—of others, known to be dead, who had been seen walking the land again, alive, at the hour of his death.

It was all hard to absorb. Much less to discuss.

A person they do not recognize asks them questions about what has happened. They tell him everything. And then, in response, he tells them the story of their ancestors. He tells them the story that makes sense out of their experience.

Not knowing, still, who he is, they nevertheless want him to remain.

Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.
Luke 24:29

I suspect the rest of the world was suspended in time while Jesus talked with them. I suspect they didn’t want it to start back. Not just yet.

Their request to Jesus on the road to Emmaus reminds me of a song that comes back to me during moments I don't want to see end:

The clock on the wall says it's time to go
but I know my heart really wants you to stay a while
Hear the seconds ticking by but outside the world is still
So before you have to go
Stay a while with me.”
Music and Lyrics by Carol Maillard

To me, this song is like a lullaby. It’s about stopping the world to linger in what matters most. I remember the first time I heard Sweet Honey in the Rock sing it. I was a college student, and they were performing live on my campus. Everything seemed suspended in time and space during their performance of this piece.

There are rare moments in the span of human history when the world as we know it does stop for all of us. You might call them our Emmaus Road times. It happens infrequently, but when it does, we best pay attention.

We are in such a moment. The world has stopped.

What will be different when it is time for the world to go again, whatever that means? Surely, there will be losses too great to count. Grief, for some, too much to bear. This must be named. This must be held, not by a few alone, but by all of us, shouldering the burden together. Grief of losing loved ones, often in isolation, quite literally. Not being able to stay with them is a pain too much for anyone to bear. We must be with those in this grief.

And, for all of us, grief of a life we had known.

We begin here. At the tomb.

But we know the tomb is not a place to live. Only a place to visit.

Eventually, we must leave it in search of the one who has risen. In search of our own resurrection. We must walk with others who are also seeking what is next. We must tell our stories. We must listen for the throughlines that make sense of things. And we must linger, as long as it takes, until we understand.

In today’s current events and world affairs lesson, experts in their fields wonder about what might need to be different when we emerge from this pandemic. What might we need to experience differently or see in fresh ways in order to begin again, not with the old life, but with an entirely new one?

This question matters. Because things will not be the same.

This is the way it is with resurrection. Something entirely new emerges. So new that we cannot recognize it any more than those on the road could recognize the risen Christ.

Despite our restlessness, our eagerness to go again, I believe our hearts really want something different. Our hearts want to linger in what matters most.

Hear the seconds ticking by
but outside the world is still
So before you have to go
Stay a while with me.