A huge welcome to Rev. Joe Reed, thank you for leading us in worship on this very special day, to celebrate a Baptism and to serve us the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
We also welcome Lyndsay Blair & Ashley Craig who have brought their son Greyson James Craig to be baptized today, joining them is Greyson’s big brother Keaton, Godparents: Heidi Blair & Jesse Roskies, Great Grandfather: Norval Blair, Grandparents: Jim & Dianne Blair, Alex & Judy McCaig , Morris & Anita Craig and many other family members and friends. Welcome All!
The First Lesson Acts 2:14
New International Version (NIV)
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
New International Version (NIV)
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah."
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Second Lesson 1 Peter 1:17-23 New International Version (NIV)
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Gospel Lesson Luke 24:13-35 New International Version (NIV)
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven milesa from Jerusalem 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;B)" > 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 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?”
19 “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. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 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. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 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.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.32 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?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon. 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
The Sermon The Church Bulletin
Wars make people over-react. The simplest activity seems kind of well, important. Maybe that is especially true in a civil war.
I remember learning about how to drive in San Salvador during the war. I mean, I already knew how to drive, but you had to be aware that everybody was tense, and, maybe as a result, pretty aggressive. And I learned to hang back at traffic lights, leaving lots of space between my car and the one in front: especially if it was an army truck. Just in case there was a bomb. What was weird was that it all began to seem normal. As I am sure it does in every war.
So maybe the soldiers were right to confront the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist. The church, after all, was a few blocks from the Presidential Palace and just down Calle Mexico from an army barracks.
Anyway, one Sunday afternoon, they came in with a church bulletin from that morning's service.
Now, church bulletins are not usually seen as subversive. Or dangerous. Or as propaganda.
But this one had a quotation on the back,
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me
drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
The soldiers might be excused for missing the quote. Which you will probably recognize as coming from Matthew 25.
Anyway, the pastor shook his head, pointed out the reference, and the soldiers answered, "Well, I guess it is all right. We just don't want you to visit
any of the political prisoners — they called them "terrorists" over at Mariona —the local prison. But next time, could you please put in the bulletin that it's a Bible quote?"
Now as I say, a war is a bad time to try to make sense of things. People are tense all the time, and they zero in on things — like church bulletins — that in other times seem tame.
So maybe the actions of what Luke calls "the leaders" makes sense. Jerusalem was also tense and so I am sure that they didn't think that they were over-reacting.
Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered WI `Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?' 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
See the religious and political leader of Jesus' time were not the first — and certainly not the last — to interpret his actions, acts mostly of healing and of compassion — as political, even subversive actions. And in a sense, they are not far wrong: you can, I think and to follow the morning's text, feed or clothe very many poor or visit very many prisoners before you begin to ask why they or poor or in prison...
And then there are the scholars. Or, really, the church people. Jesus himself—whom those along the road do not recognize — gives this answer. The answer that we church people like. These are good people, really, at least the best of them try to be.
Remember what's happened in the story. The women have come back from the empty tomb. And people are trying to understand what happened. And, like church people, they fall back on tradition. Precedent. The way things have been:
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.' Then he said to them, 'Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?' Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
So the church people are saying, essentially: don't get worked up. Of course, Jesus knows these arguments. He's very familiar with them.
And then, of course, comes the part of the story that we know so well:
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 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?' That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, 'The Lord has risen indeed
We know this part of the story because we read it at almost every communion service.
It all starts when Jesus accepts their invitation to stay the night. I think that this is important. They could have sent him on his way. In fact, they didn't have to send him... they just had to sit back to watch him go ahead.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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.
Now I suppose that there may be other explanations for why the disciples invited him to stay. Maybe they suspected something although there is nothing in the text that leads us to think so. The unknown stranger seems to have been a good conversationalist so perhaps they were hoping that he would help them pass an evening in an unknown town.
But the most likely explanation, I think, is the obvious one: that they invited him to stay because they were concerned for his safety in an unknown country late into the evening. They were tired and ready to stop and they assumed that he was as well. Their gift of hospitality to the stranger showed that they were spiritually ready to receive his gift.
And then too, they had ventured out. You remember that in last week's story, overcome by grief and afraid for their safety, the disciples were hiding behind locked doors. Jesus sought them out there, but I think that he was happier to find them outside, on the road to Emmaus, a dusty little suburb about 10 kms. From Jerusalem. Name of the place means "the warm spring." May well have been destroyed in the 1967 war.
Anyway, the followers of Jesus are on the road again. Or at least two of them were: we learn the name of Cleopas but his friend is unnamed. We really don't know much about them, although ancient tradition say that Cleopas was the brother of Joseph. But, of course, nobody really knows.
Now of course Jesus meets his friends back there in the closed room. Their initial fear, confusion — that was understandable. And there is a time to regroup and to be reassured.
But Jesus spent so much of his time on the road, teaching along the way, reaching out. It must have seemed natural to him to meet these two out in the world, so to speak. The temptation is to look for Jesus inside the church, in our meetings and Sunday morning and all that. But the story reminds us that he is found much more often outside, often where nobody would think to look.
What convinced them, or rather what made it all clear wasn't the great theological insight that the stranger offered. He'd walked with them and he'd talked about the traditions and ancient teachings:
Then he said to them, 'Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?' Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
And the words, of course, were nice.
But, we read, what convinced them, what "opened their eyes" wasn't the Bible study, as engaging as it was. No, the story says that,
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him
It was in the bread, something so simple, so every day.
Now, of course, this story is beginning of the whole sacrament of communion. And that's a good thing. And it's also the source of seemingly never-ending discussion. With Catholics and some Eastern churches saying,
"The sharing of the bread is the center of it all. It's so important that we have to celebrate it every week and every day if possible." And the Reformed churches and some others saying, "The sharing of the bread is the centre of it all. It's so important, that we have to set it aside for special occasions, sothat we don't cheapen it."
I don't know. I guess that's what theologians do. They talk theology.
But at the heart of it all is something much simpler I think. That what fills us with passion, with excitement and with joy what makes us, like Cleopas and his friend, want to race back to Jerusalem and share what happened, is not so much nice theological arguments and appeals to our history. No, what makes us want to race back is the realization that God is in the simple things of our life and of our living: in the bread, and wine and in the dust of the road and the heat of the sun. That's the stuff that leads the disciples to the unshakable conclusion that, ", 'The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared"
And that certainty makes us run. Back to Jerusalem to share the news. But also into the unlikely places. Like the prisons of El Salvador.
Because the Easter story leads to where the Christmas story began: Emmanuel. God really walks beside us on the road.
After the service today a light lunch will be served in the Church Hall. Everyone Welcome!
A Minister once said that “Next week I am going to preach on the sin of lying”. To help you understand the sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17. The following Sunday the minister asked for a show of hands. Every single hand went up. The minister smiled and said “Mark has only sixteen chapters, I will proceed now with my sermon about lying…”
Sometimes we are overcome with a need to say certain things or behave in a certain way. And when that way turns out to be the “wrong way” then we feel bad about it. We get a little knot in the pit of our stomachs and we feel sorry for ourselves or about others for a length of time. However, there are people who continue to say these little white lies, or behave in a way that is contrary to the example led by Jesus of Nazareth. There are these revelations that we have that some believe give us the opportunity to overrule common sense or what we as Christians believe is the correct way to act or speak. The reading from the book of Acts this morning is an interesting one. Here, we have the martyring of Stephen (that is, the execution of Stephen because of his religious convictions). This man ends up dead because of what he believes. He feels good about it and decides to proclaim it to all those who are around him. There is not a knot in the bottom of his stomach. Only a lump in this throat and a tear in his eye as he shouts the great news of the vision that he has. He does not even hesitate in sharing his vision with his neighbors. He does not worry how they might think about him, he’s not worried that the Johnson’s wont invite him over for BBQ on the weekend, or if poker night with Peter, John and the guys will be cancelled. NO. He’s confident in what he saw and in the very goodness and promise that that image brought to him. In the midst of what was not the most welcoming land to Christians he still proclaims what he saw. And he dies for it.
How and why did this man do this? Especially if we consider that he probably knew what would happen if he contradicted the authorities or what was the official state religion at that time. How brave, how inspiring of an image can we picture in our minds. Of a man or woman standing up, and just proclaiming the truths that their religions asks them to believe, and in the midst of hostile strangers at that. Why is that we are sometimes hesitant to own our Christian heritage and identity? There are no authorities threatening to carry us away and throw is in prison for being Christian. In fact, not only is our society based mostly on Christian values but it encourages them.
So let us return to the passage in Acts for a few moments… It would appear that Stephen only proclaimed his heavenly vision after being filled with the Holy Spirit. So, one could say that that the Spirit empowered him to deliver such a powerful message to those around him. The language here is very important. The spirit didn’t touch him, or move him or convince him. The SPIRIT FILLED HIM. And it was this presence and energy that enabled him to see what he saw. I would say that he was most certainly open to being filled with the Spirit which is why that it chose Stephen to be the messenger. It is Stephen’s mindset that we need to be more open to be interpreting. I sincerely believe that we need to make room within ourselves to be open to the majestic images that Stephen was blessed to have seen. I mean, he says he saw the heavens opening, like curtains before a broadway show. He sees the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God and he is in awe. His receptiveness of the Spirti allowed him to be open to to have this vision. Friends, this is crucial. He’s not looking at his sundial waiting for an appointment with the Spirit like we wait to get our winter tires changed (ps. If you haven’t you should get on that).
How is Stephen’s message interpreted by his neighbors? We read that they covered their ears and rushed against him to bring to be stoned. They did not want to hear what he was saying. Why? Perhaps it was contrary to their beliefs. What he was saying was so provocative that it unsettled them. And I would say, OF COURSE IT IS. The message of God is revolutionary and powerful. It is meant to make you uneasy, it is meant to make you uncomfortable because more often than not it is what you WOULD NORMALLY NOT DO. I would argue that these people did not necessarily stone Stephen because of what he said he saw. NO. They stoned him because they could not comprehend the images and the message that Stpehen was speaking to them about. They could not understand, and they chose not to.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is revolutionary. How often in today’s society do we censor ourselves or perhaps think about not being witnesses to Jesus Christ that we change what we mean or what we say. Often times we are so concerned with what others may think that we censor ourselves to not be as open or as forthcoming to the ideas and visions that we are given by God. That is not to say that we will have the same experiences that Stephen had, it`s to say that we should continue to be open and not feel like we need to watch what we say because of the society we live in. This isn`t first century Israel here. One of my favorite parts of this passage was that when Stephen is beginning to get pelted by rocks he says ``Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” In HIS DEATH HE ASKS that they not be held accountable for their actions, for they know not what they do. Can you imagine that? Being on the verge of death and having the heart, having the compassion to ask God that they be forgiven? This man was going to be executed by the very same people he asked God to forgive. Surely we can learn to forgive those who may tailgate us, are rude to us or give us some attitude every now and again. For if a man, who is about to be killed can do it. Why can’t we?
This leads right into the passage from John’s Gospel. Do not let your hearts be troubled for I go and find a place for you to dwell. (this implies that there are many places, that there are places available to go in Heaven). This passage is no doubt coming at a time where people are wondering about where they are going to go when they die. Whether there is enough room up in Heaven, whether they will ever truly be a part of the kingdom of God. And Jesus assures them that there is. There is more than enough room, he wants to set our minds at rest. For we read that “I am the way the Truth, and the Life. In that line by Jesus we realize that he is in fact the path to salvation and everlasting life. It is belief in Him and that all he has done and will do. He asks us to trust Him so that we may follow the Way. We need to empty ourselves of our preconceptions of what heaven may or not be like, or whether the path is least or most travelled. What we need to know is that He is the way there and he is the TRUTH.
Further along in the gospel reading Jesus of Nazareth is asked to show them the father and they will be satisfied. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? After everything Christ has done they’re asking for him to validate himself? Jesus must have been shaking his head at this point. But I’m sure we can relate to this, in fact, I know I can. I used to kind of think and be like so, God, if you’re all powerful, how about you help me get a date to Prom? Or even a date? Am I right? Jesus Christ led a life that says to us do not question who I am, for I have given my life for you in a way that not only justifies who I am but what I have been and will be. And this is exactly how Jesus responds. Had he not been with them all this time? The words he spoke were not his own but of the Father. Like the apostles, Christ has been with us every step of the way, urging us to live the life he lived and be all that we can in the world. Isn’t that beautiful? Christ is always with us and always will be.
Christ was with Stephen through the Holy Spirt as he proclaimed the vision of the heavens that he was allowed to see because of his receptiveness to the Spirit. Christ was with the apostles as they preached the Word throughout the Mediterranean and He is with each and everyone of us in each hour of the day. (Yes, he did notice that many of you didn’t floss last night).
The last verse in the reading from John reads “If you Ask in my name for anything, I will do it”. So I pray to you Lord Jesus, that you give us the strength and the courage to continue to be witnesses in your world and be a blessing to others as you have been to us. Amen.
CALL & RESPONSE:
ONE: And Jesus said, "Come!" To all mothers and children, He said "Come!"
ALL: To the motherless and the childless, He said "Come!" To all who long to be mothered, He said "Come!"
ONE: Come unto me all ye who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. ALL: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
PRAYER OF INTERCESSION & LORD'S PRAYER:
Our heart-felt prayer today, 0 God, is but this — bless our family and help us to be a blessing to it. Touch all those who are mothers to us or to others. Anoint with Your healing goodness our brothers and our sisters. Smile upon our children and help them to grow.
We thank You God for our family. We thank You God for Your family, for the family You have given us by our birth, for the family You have bestowed by our rebirth. In the name of our Lord Jesus, we pray to You saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
HONOUR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER
MEL: (enters, carrying Bible, sipping from Styrofoam cup) Eeeuuu, this fruit punch! No wonder the adults drink coffee after church.
TIF: (follows, running) Melissa, you've got to hide me. (stands behind Mel, Ducking slightly)
MEL: Why? (looking back to exit) What did you do?
TIF: I called my Mom a nag.
MEL: Nice work! Now you can just kiss off the movie this afternoon.
TIF: That's why I yelled at her.
TIF: She said I couldn't go to the movies with you.
TIF: I promised her that I would do my homework yesterday, but I didn't get around to it.
MEL: Oh, Tiffany!
TIF: It isn't like I don't have the rest of this afternoon and all of tonight to do my homework.
MEL: So, you called her a nag.
TIF: (looking over Mel's shoulder toward exit) Do you see her? I'm hoping she'll
cool down if I stay out of sight for awhile.
MEL: It's a good thing you're not a Jew in ancient Israel.
TIF: What does that have to do with anything?
MEL: (hands Tif the cup) Here, hold this. I'll show you. (opens Bibles & thumbs through pages)
TIF: (drinks) Eeeuuu, this fruit punch! No wonder the adults drink the coffee after church.
MEL: (laughs) Yeah, that's what I said.
TIF: What are you looking up?
MEL: Here it is: Deuteronomy 21, commandments for the Jews. See here? It says if you have a rebellious child, ...all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you.
TIF: They really did that?!
MEL: I don't know if they did it or not. But it must be pretty important for God to command it that way. (turns pages)
TIF: All I did was call her a nag. It isn't like I swore at her or something.
MEL: (points) Look here.
TIF: Exodus 20. That's the ten commandments. So?
MEL: (points to each) So, you've got four commandments about God (points) then six commandments about people.
TIF: Honour your mother and your father. Alright, you've preached a good sermon.
MEL: Tiffany, you can make light of it if you want to, but these are the ten commandments, not the ten suggestions or the ten really cool ideas.
TIF: Yes, by my Mom promised I could go to the movies today.
MEL: Yes, and you promised to do your homework. Look at the next
TIF: You shall not murder. I never killed anybody.
MEL: I'm not saying you did. But look at the order that God lists the
commandments. They're listed in order of importance. He says honouring your mother and father is more important than (points) You shall not murder. It sounds to me like it's pretty important to God that you honour your parents.
TIF: Yeah, well, I'll honour her later. Right now, I'm mad at her.
MEL: If you won't honour your mother for her sake, do it for your own benefit.
TIF: Are you saying that if I go and apologize to her, she might let me go to the movies?
MEL: No. Read Here. (points)
TIF: Honour your mother and your father. I just read that.
MEL: Read the rest of it.
TIF: Honour your mother and your father, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. So?
MEL: So, did you know that people who honour their mother and father live longer than those who don't?
TIF: No, I didn't. So, what are you saying? Are you saying that because I called my mother a nag, I'll get eaten by worms or struck by lightning?
MEL: No. What I'm saying is that the Lord made the universe with certain rules, like gravity. If you jump off a tall building, you'll probably fall and die. If you honour your mother and father, you'll probably live longer than someone who doesn't. It's as simple as that.
TIF: (sigh) I suppose I should go and apologize to her.
MEL: Only if you want to live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
TIF: (sigh) You know, you ruined everything.
MEL: I ruined everything?!
TIF: Yeah, I was having such a good time being mad at her. (takes sip from cup)
MEL: (laughs) You'll get over it.
TIF: (looks in cup) A lot sooner than I'll get over this fruit punch. Here. (hands over cup) Wish me luck. (exits)
MEL: I wish you long life. (begins absentmindedly to drink, looks in cups, scowls & follows)
The Offertory Prayer:
Gracious God, You are a living parent imparting wisdom to those who love and follow You. As Jesus demonstrated to His disciples, You offer the immeasurable peace of an eternal home. We praise Your name in the comfort of this peace, and place these offerings before You. Multiply these gifts so that those seeking to establish peace in this world will feel Your guiding hand. Everything in heaven and earth comes from You, Lord. We gave You only what is Yours. May Your grace shown to us in Jesus Christ make us generous givers. Amen.
MO'THER'S DAY PRAYER:
Loving God, as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children, so You watch over Your church. Bless these women, that they may be blessed as Christian mothers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honour them always with a spirit of profound respect.
You have given to women the capacity of participating with You in the creation of new life. Grant that every woman may come to understand the full meaning of that blessing, which gives her an unlimited capacity for selfless love for every child she may be privileged to bear, and for all Your children.
Watch over every mother who is with child, strengthen her faith in Your fatherly care and love for her and her unborn baby. Give her courage in times of fear or pain, understanding in times of uncertainty and doubt, and hope in times of trouble. Grant her joy in the birth of her child.
To mothers You have given the great privilege and responsibility of being a child's first teacher and spiritual guide, give them wisdom and patience. Grant that all mother's may worthily foster the faith of their children, following the examples of Mary, Elizabeth and other women of the Bible who follow Christ. Help mothers to grow daily in
knowledge and understanding of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and grant them the wisdom to impart this knowledge faithfully to their children, and to all who depend upon them.
We beseech You to send Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to all mothers who sorrow for children who have died, are ill or estranged from their families, or who are in trouble or danger of any kind. Help grieving mothers to rely on Your tender mercy and fatherly love for all Your children.
We ask Your blessing on all those to whom You have entrusted motherhood. May Your Holy Spirit constantly inspire and strengthen them. May all mothers receive Your grace abundantly in this earthly life, and may they look forward to eternal joy in Your presence in the life to come. Grant all these things through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
"SING A NEW SONG"
Daniel L Schutte & New Dawn Music
Sing a new song unto the Lord;
let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
Shout with gladness, dance for joy.
O come before the Lord.
And play for him on glad tambourines,
and let your trumpet sound.
Sing a new song unto the Lord;
let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
Rise, O children, from your sleep;
your Saviour now has come.
He has turned your sorrow to joy,
and filled your soul with song.
Sing a new song unto the Lord;
let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
Glad my soul for I have seen
the glory of the Lord.
The trumpet sounds; the dead shall be raised.
I know my Saviour lives.
Sing a new song unto the Lord;
let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
Meditation : Defending the Christian Family
Defending The Christian Family
Today we celebrate Mother's Day and we ponder about what a mother is. A mother's job is to watch over, nourish and protect. This job starts the minute she finds that she's conceived. This is a built-in mechanism, a gift from the Lord. A mother is the chief night watchman who hears the slightest turn of a baby in its crib. She hears a light whimper and she's immediately at her baby's side.
A mother is a doctor and a nurse, all rolled into one. It doesn't matter if it's a fever, a crying baby that won't settle down, a tooth that's about to come out or the cuts, scrapes and bruises that befall a child, none of these matter, because Mom knows exactly what to do. Mom just kisses the boo-boo and the child feels okay.
She's the taxi driver and chauffeur. She's the time keeper and she gets the kids to school on time, to their piano lessons and their ball games. She's the chief bottle washer and the cook, and sometimes she feels like it will never end.
A mother is a counsellor and a consoler. She listens while they tell her that nobody loves me and everybody picks on me. She's the referee in every dispute and the cheer person at every game. A mother is the light at the end of the tunnel in bad times and good. After all — she's MOM.
Although overworked and underpaid, a mother doesn't complain. She would do anything for her children, coming to the rescue no matter what! These are, after all, her God-given talents, the means to take and use the glory of God. God expects a mother to raise and nurture her children, to make sure they have the skills to function and be prepared to face the world and to face the world beyond. A mother, who is a Christian mother, nurtures her entire family to be defined by the love of God. God's love establishes a Christian family, and God's love maintains the Christian family, and as long as you love, you are doing all that God asks of you.
Christ was very concerned about the family. He insisted that we not cheat our parents out of the duties we owe them, that our offerings to God should never be made at the expense of our care for our mothers and fathers. Jesus was concerned for the practical day to day aspects of living as members of a family, as members of the basic biological unit of parent and child.
But Jesus also changed the definition of family. He told us that there is only one family that counts, that there is only one family that is eternal and unchangeable, that there is only one family that is satisfying, and that is the family that He came to make us a part of, the family of God.
And so we celebrate Mother's Day by remembering the contributions and sacrifices that mothers have made on our behalf. We can start with how Mother's Day began. People began honouring mothers a long time ago. As a matter of fact, when it first started, it was called Mothering Sunday, and was celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
Then, about 150 years ago, a woman named Anna Jarvis, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, something she thought mothers believed in doing. She called it Mother's Work Day. After Anna died, her daughter, also named Anna, wanted to honour all that her mother had done. She remembered that her mother hoped that one day someone would make a special day just for mothers.
Anna worked very hard to try to create a special day, and by 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday in the United States. The policy was soon adopted by both Canada and Mexico. By the time of Anna's death in 1948, 40 countries were celebrating Mother's Day, and today the number has more than doubled.
But there is a twist to the story. Anna ended up disliking Mother's Day. She didn't want Mother's Day to be all about the expensive gifts and fancy flowers, but rather she wanted just a day to show mothers how much they were loved and appreciated.
In honour of Mother's Day, I'd like to tell you a story about one mother whose devotion not only shaped her son's life, but countless others as well.
Her name was Monica. A Christian, she was married to a prominent man who wasn't a believer. He was unfaithful and even beat her at times. Monica's response was to go to church every day and pray for his conversion. She hoped that by setting a godly example, even in the midst of her mistreatment, she might win him over. And that's exactly what happened.
The suffering and anguish caused by her husband paled before what Monica's oldest son put her through. He lived a licentious life, one which was devoted to pleasure. He left one mistress and took up with another. His only son was born out of wedlock. His lack of faith and rejection of Christian truth hurt Monica even more. He belittled her beliefs and seemed to go out of his way to embrace Christianity's competitors.
Still, Monica never gave up. The greatest preacher of the time, knowing of her prayers and tears for her son, told her that it was impossible that the son of so many tears should perish. And it turned out that the preacher, Bishop Ambrose of Milan, was right. At the age of 35, Monica's son, Augustine, became a Christian and was baptized, along with his son, Adeodalus, by Bishop Ambrose. A few months later, on the way home with Augustine and Adeodalus, Monica fell ill and died.
Monica could not have known that her prayers and devotion would affect not only the life of her son, but also the course of history. Het concern was that her son believe the truth which is in Jesus. The devotion to the spiritual welfare of her son is why Monica is regarded as the model for all Christian mothers. Like Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles, her zeal for the salvation of her son had an impact far beyond anything she could have imagined.
But there's another reason why Monica's story should resonate in our hearts. Her concern was not only that her son gave up his debauchery, as important as that was. Monica was determined that he embrace the truth of Christianity. She prayed that he would put his mind to the service of Christian truth. And that's exactly what he did. Much of what Christians believe today was first and best articulated by Monica's son. His writings are considered classics, not only of the Christian faith, but also of all Western culture and civilization.
While there can only be one Monica and Augustine, every Christian mother and father should be concerned with their children's worldviews. Praying for them and teaching them to seek after Christian truth is a solemn duty on our part and a contribution they will always remember, whether it is Mother's Day or any other day of the year.
Mothers may not know it, but they are often responsible for the faith development of their children more than several ministers put together. Take the case of Mrs. Jones, a mother of eight, who wanted to become a preacher. She consulted her minister to help her discern whether indeed God wanted her to be a preacher. After listening to her story, the minister said to her, "Mrs. Jones, God indeed wants you to be a preacher. You see, He has already given you the congregation, referring to her large family.
The goodness that we associate with our family at its finest moments, the joy we have experienced, the communion that we have felt, is still with us, because God doesn't permit anything good to be lost. And new joy, new communion, keeps on coming; it is always within our grasp. It comes when someone shows love to me. It comes when I show love to someone.
The challenges of faith that come from family and children can be both explicit and implicit. Sometimes children ask you explicitly and directly, "Mom, why do we do this?" or "Why do we say that?" Their questions can be very hard to answer at times. Like the seven year old boy who asked his mother, "Mom, if God is everywhere, why do we have to go to church to pray?" But, hard as the questions they ask may be, that is actually the easy part. The hard part is being attentive enough to hear the questions they are asking, not in so many words but by their changing attitudes and by their body language. Mothers who are able to hear and respond to the unspoken questions of their children are not just great mothers, but great preachers as well. Children today are growing up in an increasingly confused world. They need answers.
In order to be ready to defend the truth of our faith, we must be grounded in the faith ourselves and only then will we be able to share it with those around us. You can't give what you don't have. We must make an effort to know our faith more deeply.
In 1 Peter, Chapter 3, we are reminded of the sublime truth that when it comes to sharing our faith with others, example speaks louder than words. In fact, it is said that the greatest legacy a mother can leave her children in this world is the testimony of a deep and exemplary life of faith. This is made clear in the words of Dorothy Law Nolte's "Children Learn What They Live."
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendship,
They learn to find love in the world.
God gives us each other as family. He calls us together and says to us: This is your brother, this is your sister, this is your mother, this is your father. As you love them, so you love me, as you love me, so you love them." To be in a Christian family, and to live as a member of a Christian family ought to live, is a wonderful thing.
The Bible tells us: "We are together the children of God. We are together the family that God has made, and when we love others, and in that love nurture others and forgive others, when we respect and honour sisters, and help them with their burdens, when we walk humbly with others and worship with others as Christ did, then we have everything that a person can have.
Embrace your family, love your family, and God will take care of all the rest!
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN: May the blessing of God be an especially bright benediction upon mothers everywhere on Your blessed day. Go now into your week, knowing that you are embraced by the love of God, a love that is sweeter and more tender than any you have ever known.
1 Peter 1:7-25
The Message (MSG)
6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
10-12 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
A Future in God
13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
18-21 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
22-25 Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
Road To Emmaus
Luke 24: 13-35
There are many people on the Road to Emmaus today. We see it all around us, especially in the life in the church. This story is about us—and the times we are disillusioned and have doubts. This is a story of those of us who are searching for answers.
This morning we travel down the road with Cleopas and his partner to see if we can find some answers in their travel to Emmaus.
Interestingly, we all know the story of Jesus entry into Jerusalem, the trial, crucifixion and the empty tomb and Jesus appearance to the elite disciples Peter, James, John and Thomas, but we don’t hear how the ordinary folks felt during Easter.
It reminds me of the hockey playoffs, how the important people are interviewed, coaches, players, managers-the coach in the corner, but what about all the fans in the seats, we rarely heard from them, although I must admit we are hearing more from the fans during the Canadian vs Boston rivalry.
Of the four gospels only Luke tells this story to give us some insight as to how some of the ordinary followers of Jesus reacted to the dramatic events of Easter. How they “walked away” from the scene-doubting-- confused just want to go home and think things out.
The story starts with two travelers on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they might be a married couple Cleopas and Mary. They both appear very gloomy walking along discussing the events of the past days.
Mary is rattling Cleapas’s chain for not believing the women who saw the risen Jesus at the tomb. Mary was telling him the women were so excited, she can’t think of them making up such a story.
But Mary exclaims Cleopas, “Peter ran to the tomb, it was empty and he saw nobody, what can I say!”
Just a typical couple seeing things differently I’m sure we sometimes have the same experience with our spouse.
Gloomy and sad they continue their journey WALKING AWAY from Jerusalem.
Today, many people question if the church has the answers they are looking for-- they question their faith-- they have doubts, it seems other things have become more important to them.
So, what to do —they “Walk Away” leave the church. Not just in one or two denominations, it is happening in all churches in the western world. On their journey they are searching for different answers to the meaning to life hoping to find it-- maybe in sports—travel—family centered activities—more work—consumerism—computer games—TV.
Hopefully, one day all those who decided they didn’t need the church will recognize the stranger who will help them realize God never gives up on them.
They will discover as the Psalmist found out that “If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold you are there.” There is no place we can go to avoid God’s spirit!
They probably won’t come back to our sheep-fold,( our church) God may have new plans for the next generation, alternate methods and places to worship that will seem strange to us but will meet their needs.
We need to leave it to God-- God will reveal his plans to them on their Road to Emmaus in goodtime.
As they our two travelers are walking away from the tragic events in Jerusalem, a stranger joins them on their journey to Emmaus, at first, they are suspicious, is the stranger a “spy” searching out members of the Jesus gang. But he seemed okay and soon he joined in on their conversation
Oddly enough, they did not recognize the stranger to be Jesus, you would have thought they’d know him having been his follower for a year or two. But it can happen to all of us and can be an embarrassment.
Here’s an example that happened to a security guard at United Church head office in Toronto.
**What humiliation the security guard felt he could not always recognize the Moderator, the spiritual head of the United church. Lois Wilson, the Moderator, often appeared unfashionably dress—even at times bedraggled and unkempt. Given her attire, she was often mistaken for a bag lady entering the main church office in Toronto. More than once Lois was stopped by the same church security guard, who to his embarrassment was unable to recognize her as head of the church and would request proof of identification. Once he called the General Secretary to confirm her identity.(i) We can imagine how this poor fellow felt.
But, if we put ourselves in Cleopas and Mary shoes we too would have been confused, disappointed over the events of those last few days, their hopes in Jesus were gone—he was executed, buried and now his body is missing. Given the circumstances, we might say it was natural to not recognize the stranger as Jesus.
Maybe it was the way Jesus approached the disciples that caused them not to recognize him. We notice it in the very nature of his encounter with them- -- HE TAKES THE INITIATIVE
—Jesus always calls people to discipleship
--with no pressure.
--He is open yet courteous, engaging them in conversation
and giving them the opportunity to converse
-- or even dismiss him.
When Cleopas and his partner arrive at the village, JESUS GIVES THEM THE OPTION OF ASKING HIM to stay or not, Jesus is never demanding or intrusive always waiting for our invitation.
Jesus draws them out, knowing they are desperate to talk of what happened in Jerusalem, so he asks them a few leading questions.
And talk they do, about their doubts and disillusionment of all that has taken place, the execution of the prophet in whom they had placed so much hope, about the empty tomb, about the incredible tale of some women that he is alive and much more. Now all their hope and dreams of a new future are gone.
Once again JESUS TAKES THE INITIATIVE in breaking and sharing in the bread, and brings the conversation to a mystical moment of amazing grace. At that moment, their eyes were opened. They recognize Jesus!
The theme we have been exploring this Easter is all about RECOGNIZING JESUS AND DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. It takes prayer and Bible study to be able to walk with Christ in earnest, we will find we do not know him as well as we thought-- In fact there are times when we don’t recognize him at all.
We discover to our dismay, Jesus’ priority is not to keep us company-- but rather to seek out his other sisters and brothers, who lack food, clothing, and the love that can bring them back home to the family of God.
To stay close to this Good Shepherd we must share his passion for the needy and the lost. He expects nothing less.
Maybe we don’t expect to see him in the places we are looking-- maybe there are situation where we would never expect to see Jesus. We must keep our eyes open knowing we never know when or where.
I’m sure you have all heard the:
COBBLER STORY—who prayed to have Jesus come and visit him on Christmas Day waiting but no Jesus- shaggy beggar (no shoes)-old lady (cup of tea)—lost child returned to his parents. That night he asked Why didn’t you come today—Jesus said, I passed your way 3 times and you didn’t recognize me!
JESUS IS IN THE WORLD sharing the suffering, the loneliness and disappointments of all God’s children and is telling us his work needs many hands—our hands.
The “Road to Emmaus” is about you and me:
--to be able to recognize Jesus in our lives
—understanding his mission
—and joining hands with Jesus to search out the poor and lonely,
the unloved and the sick.
But, when we hear of over 200 school children drown—or a plane carrying over 200 disappear—the 180 school girls abducted--1 billon people starving-- the fighting—corruption—greed—natural disasters, and these are the events that bring on doubts about God.
Theologian-Frederick Buechner had a way of addressing our doubts he calls it “Ants in The Pants of Faith”
He says, “Whether your faith is-- there is a God or there is no God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
Fortunately, we have our church community, faithful men and women who accompany us on our journey—we are not alone. Together as we share in the bread and the wine our eyes are opened to the love and continuing faithfulness of God.
Several years ago, The Saturday Evening Post ran a cartoon showing a man about to be rescued after he had spent a long time ship-wrecked on a tiny deserted island. The sailor in charge of the rescue team stepped onto the beach and handed the man a stack of newspapers. “Compliments of the Captain,” the sailor said. “He would like you to glance at the headlines to see if you’d still like to be rescued!”
Sometimes the headlines do scare us. Sometimes we feel that evil is winning. Then Easter comes to remind us that there is no grave deep enough, no seal imposing enough, no stone heavy enough, no evil strong enough to keep Christ in the grave.(ii)
(i)Janice L. Meighan, Feisty and Fearless.
(ii)James W. Moore, Some Things Are Too Good Not To Be True.
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