In August I had the opportunity to paint a mural of the encounter with Christ on the way to Emmaus for the Holy Cross parish in Medford, New Jersey. This mural depicts the events of Luke 24: 13-35, in three scenes.
The first scene shows Christ interpreting the scriptures to the downcast disciples who do not yet recognize him. He is showing them that the Christ had to die, and to rise again, according to the scriptures. The second scene shows Christ breaking bread at the house on the way, where the disciples invited him to stay with them. This is the moment their eyes are opened and they recognize him. The third scene shows the disciples returning to Jerusalem to tell the others about their encounter.
I painted this mural with mineral silicate paints. The parish was looking for someone who knew these paints in particular, because the space gets full sun and exposure to the weather year round. These paints can last even in these conditions, without deteriorating. They require no protective coating.
The icon stands above the entryway of the church. The story of the way to Emmaus announces the meaning of the church building to the people who approach. The centerpiece is Christ, extending his arms and offering the bread of life.
Fr John Breck, in his article, Emmaus: Image of the Liturgy,1 describes how these three scenes correspond to the three major parts of the Liturgy. First, the Liturgy of the Word, consisting of biblical hymns, the appointed Gospel and Epistle readings, and the sermon. We encounter Christ in the opening of the scriptures. Second comes the Liturgy of the Faithful, with hymns and actions culminating in the breaking and distributing of the bread and wine in Communion as the Body and Blood of Christ. We encounter Christ in the breaking of the bread. Third is the dismissal, where we are sent back out into the world to share the joy we have received.