Worship Service for April 26, 2020 Third Sunday of Easter

Prayer of the Day:

O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of the bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Acts 2:14a, 36-41: The First Converts

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19: Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered destress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, save my life.”

What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

1Peter 1:17-23: A Call to Holy Living

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls to your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Luke 24:13-35: The Walk to Emmaus

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad, Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “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. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 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.

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, 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 buring within us 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, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Sermon: A New Road Traveled

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The story in our Gospel reading for today is only found in Luke. In that story two disciples are renewed in their faith by their encounter with Jesus and given the strength to turn around and head back the seven miles to Jerusalem to share with the other disciples their encounter with Jesus even though it is now evening.

“The Road to Emmaus” is a familiar and for many a favorite story. This year, however, it’s a poignant one. Many have long thought that Luke wrote this story to point his readers–people who likely had not met or seen Jesus–to Sunday worship as the place where they would encounter the Risen Lord and have their hearts warmed by faith and fellowship. We think this because the four parts of the story–Jesus meeting them amid their journey, interpreting Scripture, giving thanks and breaking bread, and then departing again for witness–model closely the ancient and dominant pattern of worship that includes gathering, Word, meal and sending. What’s ironic is that this week (and for many weeks yet to come) we won’t physically experience this rythm. And to read Luke’s narrative is a bit painful in the middle of our social distancing and isolation.

And yet, there are elements of profound possibility. First, Jesus meets the disciples on the road. This is more than just a representation of the gathering rites of our worship, this is an actual promise that Jesus meets us where we are, whether in celebration or mourning, in victory or defeat, in gladness or sorrow, in time of health or sickness or pandemic. We are all on a journey and Jesus shows up midway through the journey, while we’re still on the road, to encourage us, accept us, and embolden us.

Secondly, I’m encouraged by the fact that it takes a number of people in the New Testament a fair amount of time to recognize who Jesus is. Whether it’s Nicodemus in John who goes from not demonstrating any particular faith until he declares himself for Jesus by burying him. Or whether it’s all four Gospels repeating the standard reaction of dismay, confusion, doubt and disbelief by the disciples as a whole when word of Jesus’ resurrection reaches them. Or whether it’s that Cleopas and his companion simply don’t recognize Jesus until he blesses and breaks bread with them. I’m encouraged by these delayed professions of faith. Sometimes faith comes easy. At others faith can be pretty hard and Jesus difficult to recognize. Either way, Jesus is there, waiting patiently for those he has already called. That’s a wonderful news for those of us in these troubling times struggling to see Jesus.

But for me, one of the most profound possibilities is the new way we are doing community. It’s almost cruel how the reading for today points out the ways we used to be able to be community before this pandemic hit. We could gather to worship, to share a meal-both Holy Communion and our fellowship meals. We could invite those we knew and those we’d just met to be together as the body of Christ. But now for our health and the well being of others, we’re asked to stay away from everyone except those we live with. I’m finding this to be the hardest for us to do since it’s also means that we can’t meet with friends and other dear family members.

Today our way of being community is through telephone calls, Skype calls and Zoom meetings; cards and letters and conversations through closed windows and doors. But we can still walk with and care for each other–even with keeping our distance from each other We can run errands, help with yard work and most importantly just by calling and checking up with each other offering some semblance of human contact. 

Our way of being community may have changed over the last weeks, but it is still community. A community where God continues to meet us. A community still called to share God’s love with one another and the world. And a community that is made up of God’s beloved children. God’s continued blessings on you and yours as we travel on this new road together. Amen.

Prayers:

Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

For those whose hearts are fervent with love for your gospel, that they are empowered to tell the story of your love in their lives and to show hospitality in response to this love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For all who call upon your healing name, give rest. Stay with us, and walk with all those who are hungry, friendless, despairing, and desiring healing in body and spirit especially Kim, Audrey, Arlene, Loren, Karen, Harlan, Nathan, Madelon and those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For all who are learning new ways to be the body of Christ in our new reality, help us in our new endeavors and keep watch over us all. We raise up for you this week: Scott, Sandra and Sydney Basness; Lindsay and David Brennan; Suzanne Hamersma; John, Alise, Shane, Hunter, Faith Anne, and John Hickman; Dennis and Diana Magnuson; Terry Magnuson; Justin and Heather Pater; Louise Peterson; Sheena, Joseph and Harper Prizler; Matthew Wiese. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Create in our hearts a yearning to rest in your promise of eternal and resurrected life. Give us thankful hearts for those who have died, even as we look forward to the hope of new life with you. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is 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 and ever. Amen.

Blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor + grant you peace. Amen.

Go in peace and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

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