From the Heart
The Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2020
Prelude: In The Garden
Call to Worship:
(inspired by Acts 2: 14a, 36-24; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; Luke 24:13-35)
Leader: Travelers on the Way, what shall we do?
People: We shall praise God
who hears our prayers,
who draws near to us,
and brings new life out of death.
Dear Ones, how shall we live?
With the confidence of God’s beloved children,
with security and joy in God’s saving grace.
Friends old and new, what is the promise?
New life, forgiveness of sin, the Spirit as gift!
Beloved Sisters and Brothers, how shall we praise?
We lift our voices and our hearts in love, thanks, and praise.
We will praise the Lord as long as we live.
Opening Hymn: Be Thou My Vision
Heavenly Stranger, our Companion on the Way,
we yearn for your love and grace. We seek your wisdom and guidance.
We relish the joy which burns within our hearts when you are with us.
Remind us that your love is to be carried throughout the world.
Press us to share the hope and joy of your love,
so that someone who hungers for spiritual food
may be filled by our witness to your grace.
Shine the light of your Spirit through us,
so that we may show your Way to those who long for peace
and yearn to hope again. Amen!
Awakening: Day By Day
A Time for the Children: On The Road To Emmaus
Sermon: An Emmaus Moment In Our Lives
Prayers: Hush Now In Quiet Peace
For whom shall we pray this day? For what shall we pray?
Closing Hymn: Ode To Joy
Friends, rejoice in the love of God.
Rejoice in the victorious life of our Risen Savior.
Rejoice in the power of the Spirit.
Go, living in the love of Christ.
Go, serving in the name of Christ.
Let your love of God embrace others
those who are near to us and
Those who are strangers met on the road
May your lives praise the Lord!
Go In Peace
Theme: On the road to Emmaus.
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 recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:30-31 (NIV)
I know that there are some people wear glasses. I need them to drive and when I watch a movie. There was once a little boy named Emmet who couldn’t see very well. The funny thing about it was that he didn’t know it. In fact, no one knew it — not his mother or father, his grandmother or grandfather, not even his closest friends knew that Emmet couldn’t see very well.
Emmet thought that everything in the world had fuzzy edges because that is the way things looked to him. He thought that all of the other children saw things just as he saw them. As he got older his mother began to wonder why Emmet always sat so close to the TV. His grandfather noticed that when he looked at a book, he held it very close to his face. When Emmet began school, he complained to the teacher that he couldn’t see the words on the chalk board clearly. Finally, everyone began to realize that Emmet needed glasses.
Emmet’s parents took him to an eye doctor and the doctor told them, “Emmet needs glasses.” In a few short days, Emmet had a brand new pair of glasses. At first, he was afraid that the other kids would make fun of him because he had to wear glasses, but when he put the glasses on, he put his worries behind him. WOW! The world looked so different. Suddenly, Emmet discovered that everything in the world didn’t have fuzzy edges. He realized that a tree had leaves. He could read a book without holding it right up to his face. He could see her mother’s face clearly, even when she was all the way across the room. It was great.
You may not have trouble with your eyesight, but all of us have difficulty seeing and understanding things at times. Our Bible story today takes place just three days after Jesus was crucified and shows how some of Jesus’ disciples had trouble understanding what they had seen.
When Jesus died, his followers thought that he was gone forever. They didn’t know what to do. They were very sad. They couldn’t see things clearly because they were so mixed up and upset. Two of Jesus’ friends were sadly walking back to their home in the village of Emmaus when another traveler joined them on the road. They didn’t recognize who it was, but they began to talk to him and tell him all about what had happened to Jesus and how sad they were. When it was evening they arrived at their home and invited the stranger to stay with them and have supper. They sat down to eat and when the traveler broke the bread and blessed it, something happened. It was as if they had put on little Emmet’s glasses. Suddenly they saw clearly what they hadn’t seen before, even though they had been looking right at it most of the day. They realized that the stranger who had joined them on the road was really Jesus – alive and well. After Jesus left them, they ran back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
Sometimes we feel confused and don’t see things clearly. When that happens, we need help understanding our lives more clearly. Jesus is with us to help us to do that. He helps us to understand that God loves and that there is nothing to be fear.
Loving God, we are thankful that as we travel along life’s road, Jesus is walking with us and that he will help us see and understand the things that happen in our life. Amen.
From Sermons4Kids and You can find a Maze and other Activities related to this story at https://sermons4kids.com/emmaus_maze.htm
Scripture: Luke 24: 13-35
A reading from the Gospel of Luke
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’s disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us; they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”
And Jesus said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and day is almost over.” So Jesus went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying: “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The Gospel of the Lord
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
The Emmaus Moment
We Had Hoped…
“And their eyes were opened and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.” Luke’s reading today is a favorite among the Resurrection Stories of Jesus. There were about ten encounters with Jesus after the Resurrection. Of course, they became important over time to believers. We know that the earliest faith communities shared the stories, what we call the oral tradition, with others and the stories were retold again and again, and this was apparently a favorite passage. In fact the early designation for the religion or the sect of early Jews that were believers was called “People of the Way” which comes from this story. And the early worship was called the ‘breaking of the bread’ which also is drawn from this passage.
As we read this passage; as we hear the Scripture, we are invited to enter into the story and to imagine that we are the unnamed companion to Cleopas. This passage is both about a simple encounter on the way to Emmaus and it is also a larger story which lays out the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection as a backdrop, which we know more fully from other parts of Scripture. As we read, we are invited to consider our own life story in connection to this powerful story. The two disciples are leaving Jerusalem with heavy hearts for they had such high hopes for Jesus and his mission and have now had their hopes dashed by the crucifixion, because they did not fully understand the scriptures. Their dreams have been broken, and they are reviewing all of this as they walk along.
Then, Jesus comes into their midst and engages them in a longer conversation about the events of the day. When we pray, we often review the events of our day as well, seeking understanding through some deeper meaning framed by our faith tradition as well as the experiences of our own lives. We often try to sort things out in prayer and that can be an important process. Rev. Bill Kenneally explains that in the passage, Jesus, who remains unknown to them, shares a larger context for their inner struggles as he instructs them about scripture and what may be missing in their understanding about what’s happening in their lives. He refers to the ‘Suffering Servant’ of which the prophet Isaiah wrote and speaks of other prophets to explain that he had to suffer. This is a new understanding that Jesus shares with these travelers, it is that of a redeemer who suffers; they begin to understand in a more expansive way, their eyes begin to open to the larger meanings of life and what Jesus had been trying to teach them.
Their hearts are burning with a deeper understanding, a spiritual resonance, as they listen to him speak and they want him to stay with them. Of course, the sacred moment occurs in the simple act of breaking the bread when they sit and share a meal along the way. It has such a powerful effect on them that he becomes visible to them as he blesses and breaks the bread. All of a sudden, they understand what is happening in their life in a new and important way. They get up and rush back to their community; they want to be among others who have believed with them. They are excited as they hear the stories of witnesses, Peter and Mary Magdalene, and they understand in new ways.
Perhaps they make the connection between their own lives, their own death and resurrection, their own disappointment and this story of new hope, that their lives run parallel to the life story of Jesus, of suffering and death and hope and rebirth that is the cycle that any of our lives follow along the course of our days. When they think about the life of Jesus and his teachings, they understand their own lives and the way they should live. We, along with those early travelers, may wonder ‘what happens to Jesus; why does he disappear?’ The answer is that he doesn’t really disappear. He lives on in the community that they return to; his Spirit, his teachings will be spread by these early followers and will be passed along from one generation to the next. These early witnesses did not think about big theological constructs or even about founding a church; they understood that their lives had been changed fundamentally and that this vision Jesus had been sharing in word and in his ministry, a vision of the Kin’dom of God, of a Way of living that is inclusive and loving of all, this story of the triumph of love and resurrection over defeat and death….that all of this must be shared because it can give us a much fuller understanding of our lives and our purpose as individuals and as a community of believers.
I’d like to share a contemporary reflection on the Luke passage, composed by Bill Murphy, entitled “We Had Hoped….” May it bring some new understanding of this Scripture for you at this time in our lives.
“That very same day a group of them were on their way into a common future, which lay just ahead, beyond what they could see.
As they walked into the future, they talked about all the happenings among them. As they talked with one another GOD joined them and moved with them.
But something kept them from seeing and understanding what was REALLY happening. So, God entered into their hearts and asked: WHAT IS IT THAT TROUBLES YOU? WHAT ARE YOU WONDERING ABOUT? WHAT QUESTIONS UNSETTLE YOU?
The group stopped, full of fear and anxiety, and began to reflect, saying: We thought it would be simpler. We thought our choices would be clearer. We thought our values and priorities would be more evident. We thought there would be more uniformity. We thought we would agree more easily on basic issues. We thought our resources were more extensive. We thought God would lead us more directly. We thought that doubts, conflicts, and confusion would lessen. We thought that our common charism would ensure a common vision. We had hoped our future would be uncomplicated. We had hoped things would not be so messy. We had hoped our experiences would confirm what we knew, not change it again. We had hoped our familiar theories would still fit. We had hoped. We had hoped.
And now, some among us are saying that things are not as we first imagined them to be. Now some are saying that the future continues to challenge us in different ways: IS THIS OF GOD?
And God said: How slow you are as a group. How hard it is for you to trust. Have I not promised from the beginning to be with you, to sustain you, and to continually reveal my plans to hearts that are OPEN? Have I not promised you more than you can ask or imagine?
And God spent time going over the history of the people gathered, and the ways that mystery continues to be revealed. God raised up many ordinary events and interactions and showed the people gathered God’s own way of being with them.
By the time the people had begun to understand the depth, the breadth, and height of the love of God for them, they were already one step further into the future.
They wondered if they could sustain that kind of hope. It felt as if God was not going to be present as clearly as they had thought. They invited God to remain with them and to continue to help them notice, celebrate and be open to the ongoing revelation – to walk through those doors into an unknown future.
And God chose to stay with the people.
God, and the people gathered, recognized the mystery at work among them, and they grew more confident and able to share it with others who needed to know if God’s love could be counted on. They moved into their lives, trusting that what God has in store will be created together and will include more than the people could ever ask or imagine.” — Bill Murphy