The Emmaus Road Story - Sermon delivered to a Pakistani Church

Sermon delivered to the Kingsway Church in Francisabad (Pakistan), via Skype connection, by pastor Martin van Wijngaarden (Lutheran Andreas Church - Rotterdam, the Netherlands).

Let us begin with wishing each other peace and mercy, as sisters and brothers in the Lord.

When I was asked to say a few words to you now, I was very honoured. I have never been to Pakistan, and as such we do not know each other. But through Foundations like Diwa among others, we are kept up to date in our community on matters that concern you.

Shahhla and Martin delevering the sermon

Shahlla, speaking in Urdu, and Martin, speaking in English

The congregation to which I belong is The Lutheran Church of the city of Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a large Dutch seaport with various nationalities, which reflect in our congregation, including Pakistani! The Netherlands have various Protestant movements, one of them being that of Luther. Nearly 500 years ago Luther started translating the Bible for us. He taught us as believers to sing new songs, songs that motivated us in our faith.

For our congregation, Luther is important because his teachings are so open and encouraging to all people. In short: Each human being is important in the eyes of God. He embraces us in his infinite mercy. There is never any circumstance where God will refuse to help us, He will always be there.

In the Netherlands Lutherans are considered a minority group of Protestants. Even if we should add together all Christians, we would still remain a minority. Of course, this minority is not to be compared to your situation, in a country where many or most are of another religion.

But I do believe that this feeling of belonging to a minority group is what unites us, even though we are a minority in different ways.

First of all, it is good to know that we are united in Christ across the world. Together we form a Church of all times and all places. Even though there is a great distance between Rotterdam and Franciscabad, in this time, together we are one Church. This is a fact, even though we have not met or visited one another. Being strangers is not important, as long as each one of us – in their own space and time – go the way of the Lord. This way of believing connects us.

The sermon was delivered via Skype

In the Bible there is a beautiful example of this feeling of togetherness as revealed in the Emmaus Road Story. In this Gospel Saint Luke describes the Faith journey of all believers. Two disciples of Jesus are travelling to a village called Emmaus. The road which each and every one of us could walk every day.

For these two disciples’ things turned out different, they were not yet aware of the fact, that Jesus had risen from the dead. Therefore, their road was not a common one anymore, but turned out to be a journey of their faith.

First of all: They spoke to each other about everything… It is good when people can talk to one another in extraordinary situations. Everyone has the need for someone who listens to them. And that is exactly what happens to the two disciples. Their fellow traveller, Jesus, gives them his full attention, while continuing on their journey.

The disciples do not recognize Him. They actually believe, that they are better informed than this stranger. He seemed to be the only one who was not aware of recent events in Jerusalem. Still, it was He who opened the Scripture to them. Therefore, they could later say: “Were not our hearts burning within us?” That was their first step towards faith: to gain insight into God’s plan of salvation.

They invited the stranger to stay with them, as it was nearly evening, as was the custom in those days. He shared a meal with them. And then the disciples suddenly recognized Him, while He broke bread. This is the second step: Celebrating Supper, sharing and breaking bread with the Risen Lord will lead to recognition.

But with this it was not finished yet. The disciples got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. They who had left dejected, returned enthusiastic. They had left without hope: now everything looked very different. Jesus had opened up new possibilities. This is the third step: Whoever has understood the meaning of the Resurrection and has met with the Risen Lord, will no longer be able to remain silent about His message.

The Kings Way Church

The Kings Way Church during the service

This is how we enjoy reading the Bible in our congregation, following the footsteps of Luther. Whenever we cannot see a reason to go on, Jesus follows us and wants to accompany us on our journey. And while He travels with us, we can convey to Him all our needs in prayer. Gradually our eyes will open and we will get a little insight in God’s plan for us. It is often quite different from what we think.

This story also creates a picture for me of how we - as believers in Christ- , can walk together through the paths of life. Not only is Christ with us in Scripture and Sacrament, that alone is a whole lot! Something extra is added to this picture: the two Emmaus goers were also there for each other, they walked with and for each other, first in shared sorrow and then in shared joy!

May we always be there for each other, as sisters and brothers, sharing the same faith, together on the way, never losing sight of one another. That is why we pray for the whole Church and all Christians. And we here in Rotterdam will particularly think of you there in Francisabad, when we pray:

We invoke you, Spirit of Unity,
Transform our divisions and reshape our vision.
All of creation, all living beings, cry in the midst of injustice and brokenness.
Spirit of Unity, reconcile your people.
We invoke you, Spirit of Unity,
Heal the wounds of our history,
Remove from us all that sustains our present divisions.
Unstop our ears to hear your call for unity.

We wish you God’s blessing!


Text of the sermon: Martin van Wijngaarden
English translation: Sharon Winklaar
Alternately spoken by: Shahlla Schouten-Gill (Urdu) and Martin van Wijngaarden (English)

In this Dutch article you can read why this sermon was delivered to the Kingsway Church in Pakistan.