Sunday 25th -Walking with Jesus Our Own Road to Emmaus

Sunday Worship this week has been prepared by Dr Rob Hunter who will lead the service in person at 10am.

Opening Words: Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Hymn – In Christ Alone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16KYvfIc2bE

Opening Prayer:

For the right roads we avoid travelling, and the kind words we refuse to share; for the false gods we worship and the true selves we have starved of love.

Jesus walk with us and by Your Father’s Grace forgive us.

For the hidden hurts we hold to tightly, and the promises which we never keep; for the careless use of our time and money and the lame excuses we should never have made,

Jesus walk with us and by your Father’s Grace forgive us.

For all we should be, and all we can amend

Lord Jesus walk with us and by Your Father’s Grace – Renew Us.

All this we ask in Your Glorious Name, Lord Jesus.

Amen

Let us thank God for each other as we share in worship, as we come to pray and praise. Let us thank God for the witness of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit to inspire and move us. Amen.

We bring ourselves to a moment of quiet, to a place of peace, to this place of safety and welcome. We bring ourselves to cast off the cares of the world

and for a time to reflect on you, Lord God,

that our batteries may be recharged,

our direction be refocused and our energy renewed;

that we may let go of things that hamper us

and be free to care gently for those we share time with.

O God, we pray, renew us that we may renew others.

We give thanks, Lord God,

for the gentle caring people in the world

whose love of you radiates from their lives.

For their gentleness of voice and touch,

for their gentle smile, their listening ear,

their quiet reassurance and understanding,

their patience and perseverance with us.

We thank you, Lord God,that you have touched the lives of these people

and have enabled them to touch our lives

and bring us to our faith and enrich our knowledge of you.

Amen.

Walking alone?

From the Bible: Luke 24: 13-34

On the road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles 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; 16 but they were kept from recognising him.

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 further. 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 recognised 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.’

Reflection – Jesus Walks with Us.

I want you in your imagination to go back 2000 years to Israel. It is early afternoon on a Sunday late in March. Two men are walking along a road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking with each other. They had been followers of Jesus, for three years that had put their faith in him, believing that he would stir Israel to resist Roman occupation. But three days before he was taken prisoner, put on trial and executed, crucified by the Romans. All their hopes, all their dreams, all their aspirations had melted away. Three years had come to nothing. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem but for afraid of the authorities they had gone into hiding. That Sunday these two followers were fleeing Jerusalem and heading home to Emmaus, a backwater town seven miles from Jerusalem. A no place where they could hide.

They were talking about the events that had happened that weekend, trying to make sense of it. Luke tells us their faces were downcast, however in the original Greek text this phrase means, sad, gloomy, preoccupied with one’s own thoughts. They are joined by a man who asks why they are so downcast. They are so caught up in their own feelings and emotions they do not recognise the man. They begin to talk about Jesus a great prophet who performed might deeds and spoke of a new Kingdom and now he was dead. Everything they had worked for over the last few years had come to nothing. They probably felt angry, cheated.

The man takes them through the Hebrew Scriptures, demonstrating to them why things had to happen that way. At the end of their two-and-a-half-hour Journey they reach Emmaus, the man makes to go on his way. But night is falling so the two invite him home. And then something happens that is out of context of the culture of the time. The man takes bread and blesses it and then breaks it. This would normally be the responsibility of the head of the household. What this man died would be so alien to Jews at that time, tantamount to an affront towards the host. Perhaps it was the shock of this act that jolted their senses and the saw the man for who he really was Jesus the Christ, the promised Messiah. In this act Jesus was demonstrating that he was the host at the meal, he was the head of His Kingdom, His Household, His Church. As soon as the two men realised this Jesus vanished from their sight.

I wonder how many of us are like those two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus? So caught up in our own world, so preoccupied with our own situation, our own worries and stresses we cannot see the wood for the trees or as the video demonstrated we cannot see the gorilla in the room, we cannot see what is in plain sight what is before our very eyes.

The road to Emmaus tells us that whatever happens on our journey in life, whatever ups and downs, trials and tribulations we meet on that Journey, Jesus walks with us and whether we realise it or not or accept it or not he is there.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells us not to be afraid as he is with us until the end of the age. The prophet Isaiah says, ‘those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings as eagles, they shall run and not go weary, they will knock and not faint’.

During the time of the Manchester Arena bombings, amongst all that devastation, carnage and pain an atheist said to me Where is your God in all that. I replied an evil man did an evil thing not God. But God was there among the rubble, the dead, the injured, they dying, the bereaved, the anxious, the terrified. Where was God she said. God was there in the paramedics, the hospital staff, the police, the fire service. God was there in ordinary people who rushed back into the building with no concern for their own life or safety to help the injured and to hold the hands of dying children. God was there in the taxi drivers who took people home for free, often many miles. God was there in the café owners who provided the emergency services with free food and drink. God was there in the community, pulling the whole community together in mutual care and support and an outpouring of love. Jesus was walking beside them on the road, the journey they were taking so that evil did not have the last word. Their strength came from God. As the Psalmist tells us; ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold.

In the Book of Revelation Jesus says ‘ I stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens the door I will come in and live with him’.

No matter what assails us in the journey of life Jesus is by our side, our strength and salvation. Whether we recognise it or not. Are we going to open the door and let him in?

In the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Hymn – In Remembrance of Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ybwhwYSoV4

Prayers of Intercession:

Praying Through Psalm 13

As the Psalmist says:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me?

We pray for those who feel forgotten and unseen, may they know that they are remembered and seen by you God.

Help us to partner with you to remember the forgotten.

Search our hearts to reveal those we hide our faces from, the outcast, the stranger or the homeless. Change our hearts, that we may turn our faces towards these people and see them as your beloved children.

As the Psalmist says:

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

We pray for those we know who struggle with mental illnesses, anxiety and depression, particular at this time when so many are affected by the Covid restrictions. We pray that there will be resources released to help, enough staff employed, and finances given towards mental health services nationally. Help us to be a friend and a listening ear to those who suffer. Fill us with compassion and wisdom.

Ultimately, we pray for those who wrestle with sorrow and grief, that they may know your victory over those dark thoughts which currently seem to triumph.

As the Psalmist says:

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, 'I have overcome him,' and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

We pray for those who might be considered fallen by those around them: may they know your restoration and grace. Help us to not judge or exclude your beloved children, but instead lift them up in prayer, and embrace them with the grace we know in Christ.

Thank you, loving Father God, for hearing our prayer.

As the Psalmist Says:

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me.

All this we ask in the Name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us when we pray to say:

Our Father...Amen