From the Director

Easter Letter 2022

Easter 2022
From the Director

Easter 2022 – Letter from the Director

Easter Letter 2022

The Road to Emmaus
Ivanka Demchuk, Ukraine Iconographer

Dear friends,

A favorite Scripture narrative of mine found in the Gospel of Luke holds much to reflect upon from the Christian tradition. It holds the sorrow and grief of loss and the joy new life offers. I propose that “back to normal” is not a possibility after over two years of the pandemic that continues to effect the world and the war in Ukraine that has consequences for everyone. We face the challenge of creating together a world of responding to possibilities that an empty tomb calls for. How to respond to the fullness of new life and see more clearly the emptiness of injustice, lies, cruelty and violence. New life is ours to live together in the world of possibilities the Creator has given us. It is about seeing the truth and speaking it to each other with our lives.

Please note that the Image I use is by an iconographer in Ukraine whose work I recently discovered and share with you here.

Joseph Kilikevice, OP
Director of Shem Center

Luke 24: 13-35

We could spend the night in Emmaus. The trip will give us time to own up to grief, tend our heavy hearts, feel the sorrow, yes, feel sorrow.

As we walked, we recalled our time with him, things he said while we traveled together, hearing him preach, our hopes awakened for the one we've been waiting for who could bring us freedom.

A stranger joined us on the road and asked what we're talking about. "Everyone knows what happened in Jerusalem," we say. The one who fed five thousand people when all there was to eat was five loaves of bread and two fish, the one who blessed, forgave and healed us, the one we ate and drank with, the one we love — he was arrested, tried, crucified and laid in a tomb.

And now we hear that men dressed in dazzling white told the Myrrhbearers who came to his tomb, "No need, he's risen." The stranger listened to our story and then became a Teacher who opened the Scriptures for us and spoke about the Prophets who said all this would happen. As we arrived in Emmaus he started to continue on the road, but our hearts were so on fire by what he said by then that we urged him to spend the night with us there. We wanted to be with him hear more from him.

We found a place to stay and sitting together at table, he took bread, broke it — then disappeared — vanished! Our hearts were burning soon after he joined us we told each other — and now we remembered — bread blessed and broken and him asking us to remember him, wash each other’s feet just as he had done, even the feet of strangers. We rushed back to Jerusalem to join the others. He lives! He lives! He lives! 

We who hear this story are left wondering today, is there enough fire in each of us to bring light into a world made dark by war, a war that is the world’s to stop? Our Alleluias are hard to hear over the cries of refugees who have escaped, and those who cannot, those unable to bury loved ones left on streets like roadkill. Are we not the Murrhbearers called to bring the scent of love and the power of justice where atrocity and heinousness shout at us? 

The story is ours now to proclaim. The tomb is empty. He lives! Lives in us and among us with justice shouting loudly, our Alleluias proclaiming, light overcomes the darkness! He lives!

— Joseph Kilikevice, OP