An exercise in seeing Jesus in each other

Published 4:53 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

When the time changes and the weather warms up we do something at our place every Tuesday evening: We go for a walk.

We got the idea a few years back when the Piedmont Health District (led by the current Piedmont Senior Resources CEO Justine Young) came out with a voluminous survey on the frequency of cancer in our area. It showed that one of the areas that led to at least some of that frequency was the lack of exercise.

So we went out walking. The first church I served had a walking group, and I noticed what a wonderful experience it was. We initially went out for exercise, but as we walked we also discovered something else. Walking provided an opportunity to spend time with each other, to grow together.

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It was an exercise in, well, exercise. But it was also an exercise in fellowship. It’s been that way in the church since the beginning.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the walk to Emmaus. Our friends in the United Methodist Church have a spiritual development program named after it. It’s the story in Luke 24 where the resurrected Christ is walking with two of his disciples, but they have no clue it’s Jesus.

They walk together, and as they do that this unknown guest gives them a new understanding of Scripture they had never had before. As one of them will say later, “Were not our hearts burning within us as he opened up the Scriptures to us!”

They come to a house and this still unknown person acts like he is going further. But they exercise hospitality by inviting him inside. There, at the table, he takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them.

And then they recognize him.

When we celebrate the sacrament of communion we remember this story. And when we do, I often wonder: Do I — do we — still get to do that? 

Do we allow ourselves to recognize Jesus in each other? Not in some idyllic way, but in the physical presence of each other, with all of our flaws and messiness. Do we see Jesus in those around us?

Walking is such a simple act. You just put one foot in front of the other. You walk down the road, up a hill — or in our case, on the High Bridge Trail. In that simple act, we enter into a relationship with others that we would never have had otherwise. 

And maybe, just maybe, we get to see Jesus.

Rev. Dr. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is