Third Sunday of Easter – 26 April 2020
Play the video below to see the whole service or follow transcript below and watch the music clips.
HYMN: O for a thousand tongues to sing
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Prayer of Preparation
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Prayers of Penitence
A seasonal invitation to confession
Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart.
Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gloria in Excelsis
We join in with this gloria sung as a hymn
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Liturgy of the Word
Reading: Acts 2:14a 36-41
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:
36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah,[h] this Jesus whom you crucified.’
37 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?’ 38 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. 39 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.’ 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
HYMN:On the journey to Emmaus
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke
Glory to you O Lord.
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18 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?’ 19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 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. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 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. 24 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.’ 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
During the week I was thanked for linking the sermons and reflections to our current crisis as we live under the shadow of the impact of Covid 19. Yet surely faith speaks to life, otherwise it is an empty faith. When we reflect on the scriptures, it is not just to understand their context in time or place or to understand the precise meaning of a Greek or Hebrew word, it is not just to analyse the ins and outs of the story we are being told and why people reacted in this or that way. We may want to do these things to satisfy our intellectual curiosity – but the most important reasons we reflect on the scriptures is to be drawn into a deeper understanding of the nature of God and also to comprehend what they have to say to us right now, today, in our present moment, in our present circumstances. Whoever we are, wherever we are in the world, in time or place of difficulty or not, then the word of God can reach us and draw us closer to God. It is a living word, we have a living faith and we can come to know a living God.
Today’s talk is less of a sermon and more a series of reflections based on this third resurrection story – the story of what happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. How does it connect to us and speak to us today?
First – The chaos of mind and heart.
On their journey out to Emmaus the two disciples – who are sometimes depicted as husband and wife. Cleopas and Mary, are disturbed. They have witnessed the trial, condemnation and appalling death of one they loved. They have seen terrible things. The images are still in their minds and they are clearly discussing all this and what it means as they walk home. I was struck by the parallel to our own walk at the moment. Even if we are not working on the frontline like care workers and health workers, we know the images of the very sick and the dying, we have seen them on our television. We have heard of the ongoing trauma for those working with people affected by this disease – and the distress of their families. We maybe living locked down, and for many that has its challenges – but even if we’re safe we carry the concerns and fears of this time. We know about the grief and the loss and the mourning which can’t be properly expressed.
If a stranger came along and asked what was wrong – we would answer with the same irritation – are you the only person who does not know what has been going on? This is the second point of connection with this story – for of course Jesus does come along side of us in our trouble – but so often Jesus is a stranger to us. This can be the case whether we know about Jesus and profess to believe in him – or not. Jesus can be a stranger to us and we can be a stranger to Jesus. Where are we in our relationship with Jesus, what are there barriers to our vision, do we see clearly or is there a mist? Are we afraid to recognise the Lord who walks with us? Have we made ourselves strange to him?
The lack of recognition.
Those two disciples did not recognise Jesus. What is it that gets in the way? One of the reasons seems to be that their own hopes were dashed when Jesus was crucified. They tell the stranger – we had hoped that he would be the one who would redeem Israel. The disciples had their own ideas of who Jesus was and what unfolded didn’t match their expectations. Their preconceived ideas about who Jesus is prevent them from seeing his reality, his true nature. That is so often the case with us, we decide who Jesus is and what he is going to do for us, and what his agenda is (which is our own agenda) and then when this constructed Jesus doesn’t deliver to our asking – he is rejected or not known. The disappointment gets in the way of us recognising him.
Another of the reasons for being obtuse about the presence of Jesus with them is that Jesus’ path is a path of suffering, and that is difficult for the disciples to accept. Jesus’ response to the disciples’ story is, ‘How foolish you are! …. Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ For us too, it is hardly surprising that we find it hard to look upon a suffering Christ and recognise him, for facing suffering is a hard thing to do. We are afraid of the suffering of Jesus, for Jesus is clear that to be his follower means walking in his footsteps and taking on that suffering for ourselves. This is a barrier to our own vision of Jesus.
Despite the disciples’ initial suspicion and wonder at this seemingly ignorant stranger who joins them on the road, as Jesus begins to speak with them, they grow more content with his presence and find that his words and his interpretation of the scriptures mean that they warm to him. The journey to Emmaus is six or seven miles. They have a long walk and a long conversation. By now they appreciate his company and as they approach their destination the disciples invite this stranger to come and stay with them. It is their choice for Jesus was making as though he would continue the journey – but they ask him to stay. Their invitation is the beginning of the response to Jesus. Stay with us Jesus, stay with me. To make that choice to invite Jesus in, to welcome Jesus, to offer space to Jesus – that is the moment which opens the door to the possibility of truly knowing Jesus.
The disciples recognise Jesus as he eats with them. They know him in the familiarity of gesture as he takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it and gives it to them. This is the moment of revelation and realisation, the moment when the disciples realise it has been Jesus with them all along. It is a great moment – like Mary Magdalene in the garden, like Thomas in the upper room, there is great joy and excitement in experiencing the presence of Jesus again. The story hasn’t ended – it continues and the presence of Jesus is something that can still be known. These disciples are so excited they turn tail and dash back to Jerusalem to tell the news.
There are many pictures and paintings of this incident. This moment of revelation and recognition seems to be something that we want to connect with. We want to recognise Jesus too. The images of this moment often leave a space at the table so that we can, as it were, join the meal and share the joy. For many of us this recognition and experience of the presence of the Lord takes place at the Eucharist when we join the communal table and the bread is taken, blessed, broken and shared. Our great sadness is that at the moment we are denied this physical action of joining in with the communion celebrated in our churches. In some ways this is a hard time to dwell on this story.
However, the point is that Jesus is present all the way through the story and not just in the final moment. Jesus deliberately came alongside of the disciples, he was present to them as they told him their sadness and their trouble, he was present in the way he unfolded the scriptures to them, he accepted their invitation and sat down to eat with them. Jesus is present with us in the same ways today.
We cannot meet to worship in church and share in the communion but we can pray, read the scriptures. We can know the fellowship of other Christians even when apart. Jesus comes alongside of us too wherever we are.
When you come to pray – set time aside and space, invite Jesus to come and pray that you know his presence with you. Pray in the stillness using the name of Jesus or what is known as ‘The Jesus Prayer’, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Pray for those in trouble and sorrow at this time.
Again, ask Jesus to be present to you as you engage with the scriptures. Perhaps through the set readings for morning and evening prayer or through a booklet of daily Bible readings. You could start with this gospel passage itself. Dwell with the words. Where do you recognise Jesus in them today?
Then contact one another and encourage and reassure one another and chat. We are still the body of Christ – united in him. In the comfort and familiarity of those contacts Jesus can be known between us.
In the reading from the Acts of the apostles, those first Christians expressed their faith in four ways, in devotion to the apostle’s teaching; to fellowship; to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. We can still do three of those.
May we know Christ’s presence with us anew each day.
companion on the way,
you walk behind, beside, beyond;
you catch us unawares.
Break through the disillusionment and despair
clouding our vision,
that, with wide-eyed wonder,
we may find our way and journey on
as messengers of your good news.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Prayers of Intercession
(based on Luke 24:36-48)
Prayers adapted from the prayers of Rev Richard J Fairchild/ Moira Laidlaw
Lord Jesus Christ, the light of your love shines on, illuminating the places where you are present. As the bewildered disciples pondered the stories of your appearance, you penetrated the darkness of their fear and doubt with your word of peace. You showed them the appalling marks of evil pierced on your hands and feet. As you walked with them, you opened their minds to understand why you had to die to defeat such evil and death. Increase our understanding, we pray, and open our minds and hearts to receive you…
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer…
Bring to us O God, the sense of your living presence as we go into this new week. Renew in us the faith you want us to have, the faith that is not afraid to reach out in your name and to share the treasure you have given us, that treasure which is greater than silver and gold.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer…
Lord – you know our hearts, you know our needs, and you know the hearts of those around us and their needs. We lift ourselves and them before you at this time.
Especially those who have witnessed scenes that distress them and who carry the images of others’ sufferings.
We pray for those who are sick or in hospital from Covid 19 or with other health problems.
We pray for those who care for them: nurses, doctors, paramedics, care workers, social workers.
We pray for other people who are exposed to the virus through their day to day work.
We pray for those who are locked down and who are finding it hard. We pray for children and young people missing school and friends.
We pray for people who have lost their jobs or their business.
We pray for the places in the world where people are especially vulnerable to its effects: refugee camps, people living in poverty, people without ready health care. People in overcrowded cities with poor shelter.
We pray too for the political will and ability across the world to tackle the virus and its effects.
Have mercy Lord we pray
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer…
Finally, O Lord, we ask that you would bless us at St Mary’s Ketton and All Saints, Tinwell with vision for the future and reverence for the past.
Guide us each day as we minister to one another and to world for which you gave yourself.
Help us each day to bear witness to your name and to do that which you would have us do.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.. Amen
HYMN As a response to the sermon and intercessions
Open our eyes Lord we want to see Jesus
The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples
and said ‘peace be with you.’
Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. Alleluia.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
Although apart let us offer peace to one another in a moment’s prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples
in the breaking of bread:
open the eyes of our faith,
that we may see him in all his redeeming work;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
God, who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
has given us the victory,
give you joy and peace in your faith;
and the blessing…
HYMN: Be thou my vision
Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Jesus, joy of man’s desiring