By Dylan Spilinek
When Pastor Adam came up to me after a meeting last semester and asked me to go to this thing called Emmaus, I had no clue what that even meant. He said that as someone who didn’t grow up in the Lutheran tradition, it would be beneficial to go, as this course would provide an intensive experience with Martin Luther’s theology and how he interpreted scripture. I agreed but still didn’t know what was in store for me.
As I said, I did not grow up Lutheran. I grew up in a small church in central Nebraska that struggled to get 15 people to show up on Sundays. In that church, I did not have any strong theological standing nor any tools to grow my faith. I didn’t have any strong ties to a church until coming to the Lutheran Center, but even then, it wasn’t like we sat down with The Book of Concord and had 12 hour discussions about our theology (I also didn’t know what The Book of Concord was).
In preparation for Emmaus, we were sent a sizeable reading list for our four day adventure. It was reading this material that made me realize how much my own personal beliefs and questions were voiced by Martin Luther 500 years ago. So, arriving at the St. Benedict Center in Schuyler and having read (most of) the material, I was just starting to grasp what I would be doing here.
It was our first night there when I actually heard the story of The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35) and the two men who were leaving Jerusalem after Jesus had been crucified. Jesus (newly resurrected and disguised) walks with them, talking to them. When they reach their destination, they invite Jesus in their home. After he breaks bread they recognize him, and he disappears. The two men then rush back to Jerusalem, find the disciples, and tell them all that they saw.
This text guided our instruction, and as the days went on, I learned so much that before felt unattainable. The questions and doubts I had for so long were finally being answered, but more importantly, the experience provided tools for me to go out and learn more, to not just stop with as much instruction as was provided in the few days we had.
Our last night there, the four of us from The Lutheran Center gathered in one room, originally just to watch a movie. But then we had one of the best discussions I’ve ever been a part of. We shared some of our stories, our doubts, our fears, and in that moment, we were able to come together and lean on one another in support, even applying some of the things we had learned that same day. We were able to recognize the hiddenness of God and how we may not know what lies ahead. But no matter what, we can put our faith and trust in God, and God can come to us in conversation, just like with the men traveling to Emmaus.
As I come back from Emmaus, like those two men, I am very excited to grow the theology that was planted. But I am more excited to see how this experience will help me share the good news with others even in the times when I’m not sure where I am going.