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!
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