Worship April 26, 2020
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them…”
Matthew 18:20 CEB
We need your presence on the long road, Lord.
The road between fear and hope,
the road between the place where all is lost
and the place of resurrection.
Like the disciples walking the road to Emmaus,
we are in need of your company!
Jesus, stand among us, in your risen power,
let this time of worship, be a holy hour.
Loving God, come and speak to our hearts today. May we, like those on the Emmaus Road, find your words burning with hope in our lives. Strengthen us and give us courage for the journey ahead. For we pray in Christ’s Name. AMEN.
Children’s Message Ben Ziegler
Scripture Luke 24:13-35 Parker Mitchell
Meditation Pastor Deb Schaffran
I like to walk. Sometimes I was at a stroll although my preferred speed is a little faster than a stroll. Sometimes I walk in a manner that clearly gives the impression that I am on a mission or even that I am unhappy about something. I have had people tell me that they can tell when I am angry because my hair bounces!
The scripture Parker read earlier starts with a two people walking along a road. We don’t know anything about the speed they were walking but I am guessing it was just a good easy speed.
This Gospel from Like was written toward the end of the first century. By that time period, most of those known as Christians, had not known Christ as he walked the earth. This story connected those early Christian, as it does us, with Christ.
This walk took place the afternoon of Easter day and the resurrection had just hours before had been discovered.
The story does not tell us why the travelers were going to Emmaus, although their hospitality to Jesus—their invitation to stay with them—makes it likely that Emmaus is their home.
We read that they talked about all which had recently happened. We can surmise that they talked about what the women had witnessed at the empty tomb, about the angel and the angel’s words “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again”
Maybe they shared their great sorrow in having lost this leader and friend. Maybe they shard their disappointment upon thinking that the Lord they had thought would save them had died and was gone. Did they share the pain of having their earlier hopes and dreams shattered? We don’t know what was actually discussed so we imagine, we imagine the pain, heartache, fear.
While these two walked along a third person joins them. Jesus joined them but they did not recognize him. The original translations of scripture say that God preventing them from seeing what would be otherwise obvious.
Jesus asks what they are talking about and why they are sad. Cleopas assumes that Jesus is “the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things which have happened”
Ironic isn’t it, since Jesus is the only person who truly understands what has happened.
In response to Jesus’ question, “What things?”, Cleopas neatly summarizes the Gospel in these verses, saying that:
- Jesus was “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (v.
- The “chief priests and our rulers delivered (Jesus) up to be condemned to death, and crucified him”
- “But we were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel
- “It is now the third day since these things happened”
- “Also, women of our group reporting that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive”
Remember that women at this time were not permitted to be legal witnesses, and the words of these women seemed like idle chatter to the apostles.
- “Some of us went to the tomb, and found it just like the women had said, but they didn’t see him”. We must admire these two Emmaus disciples. The Jewish leaders killed Jesus, and the disciples went into hiding for fear that they might be next. The Emmaus disciples could be expected to be close-mouthed about their relationship to Jesus—except, perhaps, in the company of trusted friends. Here, however, they talk openly about Jesus with a person whom they believe to be a perfect stranger.
Jesus calls the walkers, Foolish, and not believers in what the prophets had said. Jesus kind of calls-out the two disciples for failing to believe the prophets. He says
“Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things to enter into his glory?”. And Jesus proceeds to reveal who he was by reciting what scripture says about his coming and resurrection.
Scripture says “They drew near to the village, where they were going, and (Jesus) acted like he would go further”. This sounds as if the Emmaus disciples have reached their home. Jesus proceeds to leave them.
“They urged him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is almost evening, and the day is almost over.” And he did!
How does it happen that the guest becomes the host? We don’t know, but the next actions in this passage show Jesus using the words we find in our communion service. “Jesus” took the bread and gave thanks. Breaking it, he gave to them.
And then “Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him”. Remember earlier, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him”. Now their eyes are opened. The discussion of the scriptures prepared them for recognition, which comes with the breaking of bread. It was God who veiled their eyes, and it is God who unveils them.
And then we read “and he vanished out of their sight”. Jesus had come into their presence on a walk home. They were kept from recognizing him and now and when they recognize him, he vanishes from their sight.
After Jesus disappeared the Emmaus disciples hurry to share their story with the disciples in Jerusalem. They had to walk seven miles to get to Jerusalem, and the hour was late, but their good news energized them for their journey.
The two Emmaus disciples needed to share what they had heard and seen with the others. They had witnessed this incredible thing. Jesus was indeed alive and once they broke bread with Him they saw that it was him.
It is so easy to pass this scripture about the Emmaus walk off, thinking of it as a “Nice Stories about Jesus”. We let it go and gather dust for another year when we take it out and talk about it a little. But this story does impact us. Perhaps we, like the disciples on the Emmaus road, are too caught up in the horrors of the day, the fears and disappointments. We trudge along, looking down at the dirt and seeing that as the sum of our lives. Our hope is gone, we don’t know what to do. Every once in a while, someone comes into our lives and gives us a glimpse of the great good news of God’s love through Jesus Christ. But still we trudge along. Jesus would refer to us as “foolish people”, just as he did with those travelers on the Emmaus road. If they knew Jesus so well from traveling with him, why were they having trouble believing in the resurrection appearance reported by the women?
One possible response to this question is that to believe is difficult. It is easier to focus on the dirt and darkness than on the light and hope. We do this far too often in our own lives. Christ is present with us, always, in the lives of others, in the love that is shown, in the reconciliation that comes from hearts warmed and healed. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, once said that he “felt his heart strangely warmed”. We would like that. Right now they are cold and frightened. Do we dare to believe in the power of God’s love through Christ? Good question.
The other response is the possibility of entertaining the idea that things might work out and that we are called to reach out to others. Those Emmaus disciples reached out to Jesus, still a stranger to them, and invited him to eat with them and stay the night. They offered welcome to this stranger – might we do the same. He stayed with them and, in the breaking of bread, they suddenly recognized him.
Do you see Jesus in your life? He’s here. Right now, near you perhaps. Would you reach out the hand of welcome to him or would you politely nod and pass by? It is your choice. What do you think Jesus is hoping you would do?
This scripture causes me to questions what I have said or done. Imagine what those two on that walk to Emmaus could have said!
Gossip – did you see what that women was wearing at the crucification – disgusting.
Idle talk – oh look at those ruts in the road, this is rough.
Lies – I never did believe his story
Wild imaginative stories – some strangers come and took the body for reincarnation purposes.
I wonder how many times I have literally or figuratively walked with someone and not known it was Jesus.
What have I said or done that would be or should be different if I knew that I walked with Jesus.
Friends I do believe I walk with Jesus. The questions is do I always act like it. How about you?
Are your eyes open to Jesus when you see the poor, the hungry, those that looks different than you do? Are your eyes open when you share in communion?
Next week we will again share in a time of communion. Use the coming week to study this scripture, ask God to open your eyes to see him at all times, in all places and in all people. Amen
Special Music Arnie Voight
Offering and Prayer of Dedication
Lord, I ask your blessing on the gifts and on the people. Please be with them, give them courage. Direct our use of these gifts to help and serve others, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Sometimes our faith life is like a journey in which we have four flat tires, no change for the thruway, and children crying “Are we there yet?”.
We just try to get through it. Be with us on these journeys. Bring us hope and comfort. Remind us that we will be “OK”, that God is walking with us.
Lord for some of us this week has been long and boring and for others so many things have happened. Some of these things have been ok and may even have cause our hearts to rejoice; other things have torn at our spirits seeking to bring us down.
Lift us up, Lord. Open our eyes to you. Help us to see your presence in all your world. Give us courage and strength for all the journeys ahead so that even flat tires and fussing children or the long boring days will not discourage us from our destination. Amen. When the Disciples asked Jesus how they should pray he taught them and together we pray…
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
People of the Road, rejoice, for God is with you. Bring God’s love and peace to all whom you meet. Go in peace now and forever. AMEN.
- Bishop Bruce Ough has asked all United Methodist churches in Minnesota not to host in-person worship through May 10. Currently we do not have an update, so we wait!
- Thank you to Parker Mitchell for sharing scripture with us and to Arnie Voight for the special music.
- On Monday, May 4th from 8-9 PM at the Welia Parking Lot there will be a Community Park & Pray
- A time for the community to gather for music and prayer. More information to come.