Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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9:30am Sunday School
11:00am Worship

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5:00pm Dinner
6:00pm Bible Study


200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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Recognizing Christ

One of my favorite Eastertide texts is the Road To Emmaus, (Luke 24:13-35).  It’s the ultimate story not of hidden identity, but incompetent recognition.   The resurrected Christ meets two disciples while they are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, only for some reason, they don’t know it’s him.   Even though he’s teaching them about the meaning of the crucifixion and the resurrection all along the way, he appears to them to be nothing more than a random stranger.  It’s only when they arrive and the “stranger” joins them for dinner, and he takes the bread and breaks it, that the disciples recognize Jesus for who he is, and realize he’s been there with them all along.  So, what happened? Why didn’t they recognize Christ back there on the road?  Somebody call Sherlock Holmes, NCIS, an ophthalmologist.  

This past Eastertide we’ve been engaged in a unique spiritual discipline.  Many of us have been engaged in an exercise of spotting “Signs of Life,” (our theme for Eastertide worship) such as “Praise,” “Generosity,” “Hope,” etc.    We then take a picture and post it on a social media app called Cluster, so that we can share our God-sighting with everyone.  It’s been rather amazing, and much fun.  But I think many of us have found it harder than you would think. Of course sometimes the problem is when you see such moments, you don’t have time to get your camera out and take a picture.   But to be honest, the biggest struggle is…we’re just not trained to look for such, at least outside that which is sanctioned by the church.  We believe God is with us at all times, bringing about “Signs of Life,” and yet we don’t recognize them.  Far too often we’re disciples stumbling toward Emmaus, when what/who we need is right there all along.

So what’s the answer?  How do we wake up to the “Signs of Life” all around us?  How do we more readily recognize the Christ who walks with us?   How do we gain “eyes that see?”    Well, a part of it would seem to involve intentionality—just slowing down, opening our eyes, being more aware, etc.  But our text may have yet another, rather paradoxical, suggestion.  It was once the disciples recognized Christ at the table that they then were able to see Christ elsewhere, to realize Christ had been with them all along.  So could it be that our ability to recognize Christ in the world is actually tied to our experience of Christ in worship and devotion; that our ability to recognize “Signs of Life” is fine-tuned when we familiarize ourselves with such in regular moments of personal and corporate communion and service?  

So when it comes to recognizing Christ in worship/devotion and in “the real world,” maybe it’s not an either/or but a both/and.  If we do worship and devotion right, then it becomes a process whereby we attune our hearts and minds and eyes to God, where we familiarize ourselves with Christ and His ways, so that when we encounter Christ elsewhere we won’t miss out, and won’t miss out on joining God in God’s work beyond our walls.  So, let us be faithful to gather with glad and generous hearts so that when we scatter, we may have eyes to see, and join in what God is doing in our world, in amplifying and celebrating the “Signs of Life” that are popping up all around us.  

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the May edition of Together.
Posted by Bridget Ellis at 9:00 AM
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