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Sunday 26th April 2020- Third Sunday of Easter

posted 23 Apr 2020, 04:56 by Church Office   [ updated 27 Apr 2020, 11:59 by CHS Info ]
 
 

You can download the order of service here, and a printable version of these readings, sermon and prayers can be downloaded here.


Sunday 26th April 2020

Third Sunday of Easter

 

Readings

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

The inclusivity of the gospel story is echoed in this reading in which the promise of God’s presence, the Holy Spirit, is for all without exception.

 

Luke 24:13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." 25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

We are so familiar with the story of the road to Emmaus that we often skip forward to the denouement when the disciples suddenly recognise Jesus and their sorrow turns to joy. Yet the story is very much a journey: a long road from bewilderment, disappointment and grief in which the disciples gradually have their minds, heats and eyes opened. This gradual revelation that God journeys with them comes about as they journey together and as their welcome the stranger in their midst. We today experience God’s presence with us most strongly when we accompany one another and the stranger in our midst on our journey through life.

Sermon

It is strange to have a story about journeying when are going nowhere.

In normal times I would be making a mighty mess with the children in church this morning as, with the help of some paint and a great long roll of paper, we built a long, unfolding path of footprints from one end of the building to the other.

This morning I will still be encouraging our families to stick their feet in some paint but the path will only go to the front door and back.

In our story the journey heads out of the front door and goes from Jerusalem all the way to Emmaus and back to Jerusalem again but at its heart, its core, is the need to stand absolutely still.

The disciples are leaving, they are turning their backs on Jerusalem and putting behind them all that has happened: the betrayal & the arrest, the trial & the torture, the dying & the burial of the dead.

They are moving on.

As they walk away, they are joined on the road by a stranger, a stranger who asks them to tell him why they are leaving & what has happened; and they stop walking and they stand still and are sad.  Such a poignant phrase “and they stood still and were sad”.

Although they want to move on, although they want to put in all behind them, they stand still and are sad and say: “we had hoped…” we had hoped that Jesus, our beloved friend, inspiration, guide, who is now dead, we had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel.

They voice their loss and their disappointment: the future that they thought was opening up before them, the possibilities that can never unfold, the potential that will now never be realised.

It is a moment of such deep and honest pain and grief.

And it is astonishing. 

For at times like this we want to put it behind us, to move on, to build another future, take another path.  Human beings have an almost infinite capacity for denial and distraction, we will do almost anything to avoid facing pain, our own and others.

But here are our disciples staring that pain right in the face and what is more they are sharing it! Sharing it with one another and with a total stranger. They do not change the subject, they do not put a positive spin on it, they do not try to convince themselves or anyone else that everything is, or will be, just fine.

We have a phrase: getting it off your chest: you’ll feel better once you get it all off your chest.  But they don’t! Having bared their souls they don’t suddenly feel much better instead,  they continue trying to walk away from what has happened, trying to put it behind them.

Resurrection takes time. 

In none of the gospel stories does the world suddenly change when Christ is risen: the women are afraid, they men doubt, the disciples go to ground or run away.

But whatever they do Christ draws near, wherever they go Christ goes with them. 

The beauty of this story for me is that these disciples do not go to the tomb, they do not seek answers. No, these disciples put their heads down and slope away but God still meets them exactly where they are.  God journeys with them even though they are headed in entirely the wrong direction.

Jesus listens to their disappointments and shares their sorrow and slowly, gently opens the truth of God’s promises to them, and then stays with them until they are ready to recognise him.

Though we speak of all the collateral benefits of this pandemic: the community goodwill, the support of those whose work is hard and life-threatening, the wonders of technology keeping us connected. We are also growing tired of the uncertainty and the constraints.  Across the world there is a restlessness, a desire to put it all behind us and move on. 

I am famously impatient but by painful experience I know that I cannot make things better by rushing headlong down a different path.

Resurrection takes time and only through time can time itself be redeemed.

The road to Emmaus gives us pause to ponder the painful yet necessary process of standing still awhile and acknowledging our loss, our uncertainty, and our doubts.   Knowing that, even though we so often will not recognise God’s presence, God is nevertheless drawing near, walking with us, waiting patiently for as long as it takes for us to open our eyes and see Her.

 

Prayers

Recalling how the disciples on the road to Emmaus found comfort in God's Word and recognized Christ in the breaking of bread, we pray for the needs of the Church and the world. With confidence we pray:

We pray for our Parish: that it may be a community where Jesus of Nazareth is proclaimed in Word, encountered in the Eucharist, and seen on the face of each person around us.  We give thanks for those who are supporting and encouraging neighbours and caring for their needs.

We pray for all the sick and dying in our community and for those who tend to their needs.  We pray especially at this time for all health and care workers, for those whose work puts them at risk: may they find strength in Christ who had first to suffer before entering into glory.

We pray for the sad and disillusioned and those who feel that they have lost their way in a meaningless world, that Christ may renew their faith and hope.

We pray for peace in the world, especially in the Yemen and Syria and in all countries where terrorism and violence have become a part of daily life.

We pray for those whose decisions affect the lives of others, for leaders locally and nationally, for those working in essential jobs, for those whose work is fraught with anxiety, for those who have lost their jobs.

We pray for those who have died and those they leave behind, that they may know the presence of Christ beside them as they take each step and his tender understanding as they stand still and are sad.

Thank you, God, for revealing yourself in your beloved Son, Jesus. Wherever your word is spoken, wherever bread is broken, may your name be hallowed forever and ever.

Amen

 

  
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Church Office,
23 Apr 2020, 04:56
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