Good morning, Cheviot Churches! This is Colin, and I hope everyone is well and safe. As we go into yet another week of lockdown, the novelty has worn off, we have run out of cupboards to tidy and it can be quite dispiriting. And yet we have been so fortunate with the weather and truly we live with the beauty of God’s creation all around us. We have our service for the 3rd Sunday of Easter and today focus on the story of the road to Emmaus.
Call to Worship
We walk the path
of two who travelled a dusty road
wrapped in confusion and despair;
two who shared the company of a stranger
voicing their pain,
airing their fears,
and in the listening
heard words of hope and promise
and in the eating
received the bread of life
Today we re-enter the story of Easter
with the expectation that Christ
will also reveal himself to us
in words and sound.
Let us worship God
Hymn 404 – I danced in the morning
Our prayers of Approach and Confession
Let us pray
God of Easter hope,You hold the nations in your hand, yet know and love us all. By your Spirit, you gather us and in Christ you make us one.
Show us who we are and what we can be.
Set us free from all that is mean and wrong;
Hold us in our pain and hurt;
And bring us from brokenness to wholeness. Walk with us on the road and listen to our hurts and regrets; help us to let go the past and to recognise you in unexpected ways.
Risen Christ, we confess that like the two disciples on the Emmaus road we too often preoccupied with self that we fail to see you in our midst.
We readily welcome friends, but not always the stranger or those who make us uncomfortable. Forgive us and help us to be generous people and that our churches and homes may ever be places of welcome. (Pause)
Friends, know that in Christ, you are a forgiven people, set free by God’s redeeming love. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.
Readings: Acts 2: 36-41
Luke 24: 13-35
Hymn 417 – Now the green blade riseth
Here is our weekly prayer from Arthur and Kathleen
Father God we thank you for the gift of your Son, our Saviour, who walks with us on our life’s journey. We pray for all who travel with us in our family, among our friends and within this community of Cheviot Churches. We ask for a deepening awareness of our need of your presence with us. Keep us all safe and well as we continue our isolation and protect all those still working to care for us. Amen
The daughter of friends of mine was 21 last week. She had had great plans for her birthday including a big party with all her friends from College. What was not in her plans was that she would spend the whole day with her parents. But that was exactly what happened. She was on lockdown of course, and living with her parents and siblings at the family home and only able to communicate by Zoom with her friends. It wasn’t the same. Though her mother enjoyed it very much.
I think some of us may have had significant birthdays or anniversaries, weddings or holidays, which we have had to put on hold because of the Coronavirus crisis. Events that we have been looking forward to, but they just haven’t happened.
Today we read the story of the Road to Emmaus; a story which means a lot to me for different reasons. And we find the two disciples walking along the road. Cleopas and – well, the other is not named, but many commentators think it would have been his wife, and certainly they stayed in the same house. Walking along the road, no, more ‘trudged’ along the road. You can feel the heaviness in every step. These were two people who had been traumatised by the events in Jerusalem. They had seen their friend, their teacher, tried and executed on the cross. And they were grieving. One of the awful things about this crisis we are in is that people often die alone in hospital without their loved ones around them, and families have to cope with that. These two disciples were going through the same.
They were grieving, but also their dreams had been shattered. ‘We had hoped…’ they said. They had hoped that Jesus would usher in a new kingdom of peace and justice. But the cross seemed to put paid to that. Like my friends’ daughter and her party, things hadn’t gone to plan. Their dreams were in ruins, they had reached a dead end, and so they turned their backs on Jerusalem and were going home with heavy hearts.
And a stranger appeared beside them and walked with them. He saw their hurt, and there was something about him, they opened up to him and were able to tell him about their pain and disappointment. The stranger was the risen Christ, but they didn’t recognise him. He walked alongside them in their pain, he accompanied them in their grief, and he helped them to see beyond it.
I think it is a challenge for all of us. To be able walk alongside people(not literally, at this time of course) and to listen and share their frustrations. It is so important to make time for people and lend a listening ear, for each of us has their story to tell.
They reached Emmaus, and the stranger made to go on, but the couple invited him into their home. He had made their journey lighter and somehow helped them to put things into perspective, had opened up Scripture to them and set their hearts on fire. They wanted him to stay and eat with them. Hospitality is always so important, but is again something we are restricted in being able to do these days. The book of Hebrews reminds us that by sharing hospitality, we entertain angels unawares. And as they sat down at the table, Jesus breaks bread, and suddenly their eyes are opened. Breaking bread, sharing hospitality can still open our eyes to the presence of Christ among us. As one commentator put it, it takes us on a journey from head to heart, from thinking about God to relationship with God.
The presence of Christ walking alongside them and breaking bread with them had transformed Mr and Mrs Cleopas. So much so, that they ran back all the way to Jerusalem invigorated, ready to share the Good News with their friends. What a contrast to the picture we had of them initially, so full of cares and woes. In the aftermath of Easter, we see how the presence of the Risen Christ transforms the disciples. He still can transform us today into people ready to reach out and listen, ready to share the Good News that all are welcome in the embrace of God’s love. Amen
Here is a meditation by Roddy Hamilton from Bearsden New Kilpatrick Church
When Thomas touched the wounds
and set himself free
it was Easter day
When Peter’s three “yes’s” to Jesus
finished his three denials
it was Easter day
When the disciples looked from afar
at a breakfast of fish on the beach
it was Easter day
When Emmaus became synonymous with welcome
and the breaking of bread with strangers
it was Easter day
When the hungry are fed at the table
the same table as the rich
it is Easter day
When weapons are beaten to ploughshares
and peace is a word to be shouted
it is Easter day
When the stranger is welcomed in community
and the lonely are restored to relationship
it is Easter day...
Hymn 198 – Let us build a house … All are welcome
We now have our prayer of dedication of our offerings, of our gifts and talents, of our very selves. And this is followed by our prayers for others. Let us pray.
Like the disciples at Emmaus,
we offer what we have.
They offered their company,
their table, their bread.
We invite you to be with us, Jesus,
as we offer you our love,
our devotion, our gifts.
All-seeing and unseen God, you make your presence known to us when we least expect it. Come to us, we pray, when our need is greatest.
We place before you this virus present in our world. We ask your blessing on all doctors and nurses and NHS staff, as they work tirelessly to save lives. Be with all working in care homes and with the residents. Calm any tensions.
Give wisdom to scientists, researching into a vaccine.
Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity. Bring healing to those who are ill.
Protect those who are most at risk.
Give comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
Welcome those who have died into your eternal home.
Praise be to the farmers, planting seed and looking after animals, especially at this lambing season. Praise be to janitors and rubbish collectors, to those who drive delivery vans and truck drivers and postal workers. Praise be to those who keep an eye on water and electricity and oil. To all in resilience groups.
We ask your blessings on domestic abuse victims on lockdown with abusers. We think of the homeless and refugees and enfold them in your care.
And when all this is past may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could.
Stabilize our communities.
Unite us in our compassion.
Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in your care.
Lord, hear our prayers in Jesus name. Amen
I always like Hymn 416 – Christ is alive, especially verses 2 and 5
Go now as those who have met with Christ this day
Go now as those who hearts have burned within them,
as the Scriptures were explained.
Go now as those who have been touched by resurrection.
And may the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be upon you and be upon all you love, wherever they may be, now and always. Amen