This week’s service has been prepared by Rev. Andy Warren.
Faithful one, your word is life, come with power to free our praise, inspire our prayer and shape our lives for the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Christ Has Risen
Christ has risen while earth slumbers,
Christ has risen where hope died,
as he said and as he promised,
as we doubted and denied.
Let the moon embrace the blessing;
let the sun sustain the cheer;
let the world confirm the rumour.
Christ is risen, God is here!
Christ has risen for the people
whom he loved and died to save;
Christ has risen for the women
bringing flowers to grace his grave.
Christ has risen for disciples
huddled in an upstairs room.
He whose word inspired creation
is not silenced by the tomb.
Christ has risen to companion
former friends who fear the night,
sensing loss and limitation
where their faith had once burned bright.
They bemoan what is no longer,
they expect no hopeful sign
till Christ ends their conversation,
breaking bread and sharing wine.
Christ has risen and forever
lives to challenge and to change
all whose lives are messed or mangled,
all who find religion strange.
Christ is risen. Christ is present,
making us what he has been –
evidence of transformation
in which God is known and seen.
(John L. Bell & Graham Maule)
Dear Lord, we are here, in this place we call home. Normally we meet at your place on a Sunday but things are different today. No greeter at our front door, no hubbub of conversation in our hallway, no notice sheet to pick up on our way into the lounge. Lord, welcome to our home – fill it with your love.
Dear Lord, we are here, in this place we call home. Normally you might find us all dressed up in our Sunday best but things are different today. Lord, forgive our slippers (with their hole) and our dressing gowns even though we wouldn’t have looked out of place 2000 yrs ago. Lord, welcome to our home – fill it with your power.
Dear Lord, we are here, in this place we call home. We are trying to do this worship thing. Normally you might find quite a crowd of us but things are different today. So Lord forgive our out-of-tune singing, forgive our verbal slipups, forgive us those things which are normally lost amid the noise of many yet only seem to get highlighted now. Lord, welcome to our home – fill it with your peace.
May this place, our home, be your home and may it ring with unending, thankful praise.
An alternative ‘Lord’s Prayer’
Most compassionate Life-giver, may we honour and praise you:
may we work with you to establish your new order of justice, peace and love.
Give us what we need for growth, and help us, through forgiving others, to accept forgiveness.
Strengthen us in the time of testing, that we may resist all evil.
For all the comfort, strength and love are yours, now and forever. Amen.
Luke 24: 13-35 – On the Road to Emmaus
Now that same day two of the followers of Jesus were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.
Message – Moments of revelation
Think back about 40yrs or so – to a time before mobile phones; a time before Facebook and WhatsApp; to a time when we wrote letters and we walked down to the phone box on the corner of the road; to a time when life was, dare I say it, simpler.
I wouldn’t mind betting that Cleopas and his friend would have loved to have had an iPhone (other makes of mobiles are available) in their back pocket. It might have saved them the continual trek to and from Jerusalem.
It hardly seemed any time at all when, in high spirits, they’d set off for Jerusalem to listen to Jesus; to be excited and encouraged by his words. Yet somehow, that now seemed a distant memory as they trudged slowly back to Emmaus. I can imagine them frustratingly kicking stones as they went as, between long bouts of quiet ‘aloneness’, they tried to make sense of what they had witnessed; what they had heard. But then, after Jesus had given them a personal Bible Study and sealed the revelation by breaking bread, it was charging back to Jerusalem again to be with their friends and to excitedly bring them up to date with what had happened to them. What a few days of highs and lows.
We can be good at looking back, seeing what God has done in our lives. We can also be good at looking forward, thinking about and praying for how our life might be with God. But, what about our now?
These past few days for Cleopas and his friend contained many ‘now’ moments. Through Easter week …. if you have been following the Services various folk have prepared for us… we broke bread (or in our case a cream cracker) and drank a bit of wine/squash (water) .. these were also ‘now’ moments. Did it feel like that? Do we spend enough time living in the now, talking about what God is doing in our lives right now? Or are we wary of talking about it?
Do we spend so much time looking back that our ‘nows’ are always a disappointment? Do we spend so much time talking and planning for the future that our ‘now’ is history before it even gets off the starting block?
Last week we were dipping in and out of Spring Harvest Home on YouTube. The theme this year was ’Unleashed’ based around the opening chapters of Acts. We were constantly reminded that, because of Coronavirus this world will never be the same again and that should include the Church and the way we do outreach or see mission. It was true of the early Church. They felt freed from the rigidity of the temple to worship and serve God in a whole different way.
If, once this dreadful virus has gone away, we all just go back to being a pre-virus Church – being what we have always been; doing what we have always done; then God can, quite rightly, feel miffed with us. Cleopas and his friend met Jesus in the ‘now’ as he broke bread with them, and that ‘now’ moment ‘unleashed’ them from their fears and anxieties to uncontrollable joy and witness.
What have been your ‘now’ moments during the past few weeks, those moments of revelation when you have felt God very close to you, and you to him?
How many folk have you told about them?
During this time of prayer, allow yourself time to stop and remember specific folk, perhaps known to you.
Some of us feel exhausted by the constant stream of bad news…
Some of us feel exhausted from the effort of trying to not freak out…
Some of us feel exhausted from trying to make ends meet…
Some of us feel exhausted from the effort of trying to entertain and educate and feed and love children who are stuck at home…
Some of us feel exhausted by long shifts in a hospital we no longer recognise or by doing a job we are afraid might kill us…
Some of us feel exhausted being a shield for those with pre-existing health conditions that are already exhausting enough…
Some of us feel exhausted by our aloneness…
Some of us feel exhausted just through the effort of trying to make everything ok for everyone else…
So if I get upset with you Lord, forgive me. It’s just that life is very tender and sometimes it’s easy for me to run off a short fuse…
I know, dear God, that not a single one of us is promised another day, so what I am asking for, I guess, is for enough strength for my ‘now’; for this day I am in, and then the faith to trust you in my tomorrow. Amen.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(traditional Gaelic blessing)