Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
When we are disappointed and worn down.
Lord, walk with us.
When we doubt what we believe.
Lord, teach us.
When we need a sign.
Lord, break the bread.
Lord, we seek your kingdom.
Fill our hearts with fire.
Hymn 430 – Christ is risen while earth slumbers
we gather in your Son’s name this day, united by your Spirit to your followers throughout all time and space. It is amazing to remember that the stories we hear about you today have transformed so many other lives for so many centuries. It is amazing to consider how lives not so very different from our own carried your love from one generation to another,
from one church to another,
from one part of the world to another.
As we join together in worship, open our eyes to new opportunities to express our love for you, and share your love in the lives we touch; for we are your people and we praise God in your holy name.
Week by week we open our lives before you,
acknowledging we sometimes lose track of you.
We are driven and feel busy, so we let other things come before you in our lives. Changes upend us and we don’t know where to turn. Forgive us when we forget that you are with us day by day. Renew us in your love, we pray.
On the Emmaus road, Jesus met friends who were discouraged and distracted by his death. Yet when he spoke God’s word to them, their hearts burned within them. Hear God’s word of forgiveness today. May the fire of God’s love warm your hearts with God’s promise of peace and new life.
Readings – 1 Peter 1: 17-23 (pg 1217)
Luke 24: 13-35 (pg 1061)
Hymn 530 – One more step
Risen Christ, walk with us as individuals, and as the Church of God on our Road to Emmaus. Open our eyes, as you did with Jesus’ companions, to the reality and truth of the resurrection. May our hearts burn within us as the scriptures speak to us again today. Amen.
There was a famous violinist, whose concerts would sell out all over the world. He had multiple recordings; he had won prizes; he had been on television on numerous occasions. He was famous. But then he decided to busk in the London Underground. Those of you who have travelled to London will know that sometimes you come across a musician or group of musicians, and their music is wonderful. So it was with this famous violinist – he gave the performance of his life – but the crowds just hurried by, intent on catching the tube. Some stopped and listened for a few moments; some threw a few coins in his violin case. His sublime music brought in £30 over the 4 hours he was there. Only one person recognised him, though wasn’t sure, given the setting. It was a salutary lesson.
But then maybe we have all passed by famous people. We certainly pass by so many things in our houses, in our community, which we no longer notice – we just take for granted that they are there, but if a stranger comes, they notice. We need a stranger beside us to open our eyes.
This week we are focussing on one of the resurrection appearances of the risen Jesus – the road to Emmaus. Two disciples walk back home to Emmaus, Cleopas and his unnamed companion – some scholars think it may have been his wife. They had been in Jerusalem as followers of Jesus and had no doubt been with him, waving their palm branches, when he had made his entry into the city. Their hopes had been cruelly dashed when Jesus was arrested and executed on the cross. So we find them turning their backs on Jerusalem, on their fellow disciples, on their hopes and dreams and walking home to Emmaus. They are traumatised. They have seen their rabbi, their friend die a horrible death, and they trudge with heavy legs along the road, forlorn and downcast.
Luke has a thing about roads. It is where encounters happen. It is Luke who writes about Jesus and the disciples walking the roads of Galilee; he writes about the man attacked on the dangerous road to Jericho and encountering the helpful Samaritan; he writes of Philip meeting the Ethiopian on the road to Gaza and setting his heart on fire to the extent of him being baptised there and then. And here on the road to the village, two disciples encounter a stranger, who notices their distress and engages with them. Asks questions about what was wrong, and they exclaim, Are you the only person not to know what has been happening, how Jesus, who we thought was the messiah, was put to death?’, and then prompted by the stranger’s concern, open their hearts up to him, as they desperately try to make sense of all that had happened. ‘We had hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel...!’. But their disappointment somehow grew lighter, as the stranger allowed them to tell their story, then began to draw their attention to Scripture and set their hearts on fire, so much so that they begged him to stay with them when they reached home and share a meal.
Like the violinist in the tube, they hadn’t recognised Jesus. They had seen him die, why should they expect to see him? But as he took on the role as host and broke bread, their eyes were opened. He disappeared, and the two disciples, having trudged so slowly the road to Emmaus, by contrast ran back to Jerusalem to share their news of their encounter with the risen Lord.
There are so many people weighed down with anxiety and the cares of the day. How often do we notice and ask why? Or are we more like the priest and Levite in one of the other Road stories and pass by on the other side? Bu Jesus calls us to a culture of encounter and encourages us to listen to one another’s stories, for we all have a story to tell. Cleopas said, ‘We had hoped that he was the one’, but with Jesus’ listening ear, that voicing of their disappointment was the first step to let go their trauma.
Someone last week was talking to me about to the Holy Land and how often there are more than one site claiming to be where Jesus changed water into wine or was baptised. There are several churches claiming to be built on the site of Emmaus, but the truth is we don’t know where Emmaus was, apart from being within a day’s walk from Jerusalem. But that is quite good, for Emmaus could be anywhere. As we walk the road of life, we can face easy stretches or more difficult and even dangerous distances, but as the two disciples discovered, Jesus walked beside them. What’s more, Jesus set their hearts on fire. So may we open our eyes and maybe we will see Jesus there in the form of a stranger. May we open our hearts and minds and maybe we will encounter Christ to the extent that we will want to share the news with all.
Hymn 615 – Holy Spirit, ever living
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
as we serve you giving our time, our money, our skills, and our energy, may we meet you on the road, and may we be aware of your presence with us, with hearts open to everyone we meet on our journey through life.
God our Maker,
You have walked the Emmaus Road with your faithful people in many generations, people facing challenge and uncertainty, people seeking your purpose and promise. Thank you for your faithfulness to us in all situations. Walk with us and with those for whom we pray this day, that your grace and mercy may sustain our faith and hope.
We pray for children and young people who must think about the future in these uncertain times.
Give them hope rooted in the knowledge that their lives matter to you. Show them how to make a difference in the world, whatever threats and challenges they face as they grow.
We pray for those for whom age or experience, illness or disability create barriers to full participation in your world. Give each one a sense of dignity and purpose. Show them where their gifts are needed and how much they matter to you.
We pray for communities challenged by forces beyond their control: economic uncertainty, environmental stress, natural disaster, political strife.
Give courage to those facing these crises day by day,
and wisdom to those who lead others through them,
so that wellbeing may be restored and hope for the future prevail.
We pray for our congregation, for our life together and our future in mission. That future feels so challenging. It is hard to read the signs of our times and respond wisely. Sustain our fellowship and give us courage to take new paths, so that you will find us faithful on our journey into that future.
We pray for the wellbeing of those lives linked to ours
who bring us both joy and heartache because they matter so much to us and to you. In silence we name them before you.
Hymn 694 – Brother, sister let me serve you