Do You Recognize Me?

On the road to Emmaus, the disciples did not recognize Jesus. How could they walk and talk with someone they had spent so much time with and not know who he was? This always seemed strange until it happened to me.

A few years ago, I went through several shifts in hair style. In about six months, I changed through various combinations of full head of hair, full beard, no beard, goatee, and bald. (I shaved my head on Fat Tuesday and told everyone I gave up my hair for Lent.) Not all of these shifts were my choice, but the changes left people guessing what I might look like the next time they saw me.

Then it happened. Someone I knew didn’t recognize me. For that moment, from his perspective, we were strangers. And I knew that. I can’t say he was as close to me as the disciples were to Jesus. With all the changes I had been through, I can’t blame him for not recognizing me either. He looked at my body and saw the unfamiliar.

When he heard my voice, recognition came. Though I looked different, I sounded the same. The relationship changed from strangers back to friends. Joy and delight arose for both us. I had only changed my hair. How much more joy and delight must the disciples have felt when they finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread?

Music can change appearance as well. If you don’t read music and just look at the text, you might think you don’t know the closing hymn this weekend. (And if you look it up in the Worship hymnal, you might not know the melody.) What you see on the page is the outward appearance of music. Just as I kept the same voice through different hair changes, we can use a familiar tune for new words. The outside (lyric) changes, but the inside (music) stays the same.

I hope you find joy and delight when you recognize familiar music sporting new words.