This is the fourth post in a ten post series on theological reflection. The previous post looked at how the movements of the story, Walk to Emmaus, demonstrates theological refection. The past post explored the first two stages: experiencing the risen Christ and learning from the risen Christ. In this post, we will reflect on the third stage: building community out of the encounter with Christ. In this post, we will explore three events. First, the culture begins around the dinner table. Second, in the sharing that bread, they were welcoming God into their community without knowing it. Third, when we “get” the encounter with the Divine, we lose it. Yet, its impact is drastic and lasting.
Here is a question: “Who do you eat with?” Who you eat with tells you a lot about who is in your community. As any middle schooler would tell you, where and who you eat with matters. Culture begins around the dinner table. As we eat, we nourish our bodies, and as we share our stories, we nourish our identities. At the dinner table, we get the deals that drive our politics and our vocations. These practices transcend cultures and histories. Having this perspective in this context helps us to see the actions of these travelers in the story of Walk to Emmaus.
In the sharing that bread, they were welcoming God into their community without knowing God was present. In this paradox lies the possibility for the community to grow. When we do ministry, we give resources to those who are beyond us so that they can fully participate in the community. We invite them to sit at the table and eat together as a community. When we are hospitable to each other, we welcome God into our presence.
When the Christ breaks the bread, Christ is recognized for who he is, and in the very same moment, Christ vanishes. This leads us to see that the experience of the Divine is as fragile as a bubble. When we blow a bubble, it only lasts a short time before it vanishes. Whenever we try to touch the bubble, it shatters before us. So it is the same with our encounter with the Divine. When we get it, we lose it. Yet, the encounter is drastic and lasting. Overcome with awe and joy, the disciples go back to where they were coming and begin to tell the story of that encounter over and over. The community that is built around these stories is the Church. These stories of the encounter drives the Church. We go back to the experience and begin the reflective cycles again.
In the next post, we move from the scriptural basis of theological reflection to the implementation of theological reflection. Before we explore the implementation, there will be some opening notes about human limits to theological reflection and context in which we do theological reflection. Then we will explore the nine questions that provides structure to this process.
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