Bethlehem Walk to Emmaus Gatherings
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Personal godly growth is not a solitary affair; spiritual growth involves the support of other godly people. This can happen in a small group of up to twelve people, or the support can come from larger gatherings.
On the Walk to Emmaus faith is re-explained, grace is re-experienced, a godly community is realized, and the body of Christ is renewed through the revitalization of a person’s commitment to Christ. If that revitalization is not fed it the fire will diminish and eventually die-out.
Gatherings help us feed the fire-of-community (Acts 2)
Gatherings are places to worship the Body of Believers, not just as single parts of the body. They help us to mingle with various denominations in a spirit of unity and cooperation. Gatherings help us encourage one another and persevere in grace. They are a place to encourage group reunions, to see and maintain relationships that were started on an Emmaus walk, whether it was our first Walk or our one thousandth one.
And gatherings are to be a place of education: we can learn about a particular part of Emmaus, or about upcoming Emmaus activities.
The basic components of a gathering are:
Singing and prayers—we get to sing songs we have learned and learn others. And we get the honor and privilege of praying for others in need as well as upcoming Walks.
Small-Group Sharing—these are random groups that form to discuss one presented question from the reunion card or one from the Gathering leader.
Fourth-Day Witness—someone is asked to witness to God’s presence in his or her life and their walk with our risen Savior. This witness can come from an experience, a spiritual learning, a reflection on a part of their journey, or a challenge to live more fully in holiness and service. This is NOT a sermon, a teaching or an explaining of the scriptures.The Fourth-Day Talk does come from the heart and is a sharing of what God has done for the speaker and how they may have dived deeper into the divine. It should be thought-out and prepared ahead of time.
After a moment of silent reflection the Gathering leader may ask if there are any responses from the group.
Clergy Response—after the community responses (if any) there can be a response from the evening Spiritual Director to pull together the various thoughts and to highlight a connection with the gospel. This is NOT a sermon, or even a prepared talk. It is a scriptural reflection on the general theme of the Fourth-Day witness for the purpose of deepening everyone’s understanding of the connection between their lives and the story of God in scripture. The theme of the witness may be shared ahead of time with the clergyperson and the response should be no longer than 10 minutes which includes a transition into Holy Communion.