Third Sunday of Easter
We continue to receive the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering today.
Please join us in Calvin Hall following worship today for a time of
PNC will meet today at 10:45.
There will be no Bible Study this Wed., April 26.
Mission Team will meet on Wed., April 26 at 10:00.
JoAnn Grimm who struggles with health problems.
The family of Maxine Wagner who grieve for their aunt.
Arlene Pawlik who is recovering from a broken leg.
Joan Pinkston, on hospice.
Kolleen Klemmedson who is recovering at home.
*CALL TO WORSHIP ( Adapted from Acts 2: 37-42)
Upon learning of their role in Jesus’ crucifixion, the crowd asked of Peter,
What should we do?
Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.
And then we will receive the Holy Spirit. This promise is for us and for our children,
And for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to us.
Therefore, let us devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.
Praise to our God. Let us worship. Amen
Through Christ our Savior we have come to trust in you, Loving God. You raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory so that our faith and hope might rest in you. As we come to worship this day, may we offer our lives and our hearts into your hands. Amen.
*HYMN The Day of Resurrection! #118
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
In this season of resurrection we dance to the alleluias, knowing that the gift of new life offers forgiveness and hope. Let us come together to lay our hearts and souls at the feet of our living Lord that we might know the incredible joy of walking with our Savior.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Forgive us, Lord, when we fail to recognize you as you come to walk with us. Forgive us when we insist on our own truth and close our ears to your invitation and your love. Forgive us for failing to offer our hospitality to the poor and the hungry and in the process fail to see your presence in them. There are so many times when we insist on going our own way and clinging to our own truth. Help us to know you in the midst of our days. Help us to take your hand and go where you will lead. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
In Jesus, God has ransomed us, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Christ carried our sins to the cross so that we might be freed from guilt. Let us give thanks and rejoice. We are the beloved people of our Lord!
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
In the midst of our journeys we seek moments of clarity and grace that can show us the way. Like the disciples who heard the story of life from our Lord’s own lips—even though they did not recognize him—let us hear God’s truth this day. May our hearts burn within us for the glory of our Lord. Amen.
Acts 2: 14, 37-42
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Fellow Jews[a] and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers,[a] 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.
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] 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.[b] 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,[c] 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.[d] 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[e] 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.
SERMON To Know. To Experience. To Accept. To Rejoice!
Jody didn’t understand her friend. Why couldn’t Connie couldn’t leave for their girl’s adventure until after worship? Why was she so involved in church, anyway? She taught Sunday School. She went to Bible Study on Wednesdays. She baked brownies for the Bake Sale. She was a Deacon who went with the pastor to take communion to shut-ins. What was the attraction with all this churchy stuff? Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, Rose from the grave, Forgives our Sins, Calls us his disciples, Yada, Yada, Yada!
Jody had gone to Sunday School as a child, too. She’d learned the whole bit, and she kind of liked the pageantry and feel of the candle light service on Christmas Eve. She still went to Easter worship with her mom, and once in a while was fine, but every Sunday? And to be so involved all during the week? What was with that, anyway? Jody called herself a Christian. She certainly didn’t follow any other religion, and she was a kind person. She just didn’t feel like she needed to go to church every week to be OK. She was too busy, had too much she wanted to do to spend all that time studying or praying or doing all the churchy stuff.
There are a lot of people like Jody. They are Christian by virtue of living in a society that celebrates Christmas and that posts the 10 commandments. They read books and magazine articles that reference the parables of Jesus. They understand the concept of “I will pray for you,” and they talk about seeing Grandma again when they get to heaven. But this faith stuff really hasn’t taken hold of their hearts. It hasn’t engaged their whole being. That’s not a criticism. It’s just a fact.
I wonder if Cleopas and that other disciple who hasn’t been named might have been a little like our Jody. They had obviously heard and seen Jesus in the week before his arrest, if not even earlier. They were well aware of what had transpired that day. They had witnessed the chaos and confusion, the grief and the questioning, but it hadn’t really broken through to their hearts. It hadn’t sunk into that inner place in their soul that makes the hope of Christ sparkle and shine. It was in their head only, and that meant it wasn’t quite real—not yet.
They were talking about what the women had reported. They were probably exploring options for that empty tomb. Were the women pulling a hoax? Did someone steal the body? Did the women accidentally go to the wrong tomb? Had the other disciples done this to try to make Jesus’ words about rising again come to life? They talked through all these things—you know, just the way we, today try to solve the major problems and questions of our world.
They were so busy talking, so concentrating on their conversation that when the stranger come up behind them, they didn’t notice for a time. They weren’t afraid of him. He wasn’t threatening.
He asked what they were talking about, and Cleopas responds, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has taken place in these days?” Jesus pressed them more, and they gave a succinct but accurate portrayal of events. “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people—Our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified. But we hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes and besides all this, it is now the 3rd day, and some of our women were at the tomb and did not find his body there. They saw a vision of angels who said he was alive. Others went to the tomb, but did not see him.”
I wonder how it felt for Jesus to hear that story. Luke tells us he chastised the men for their slowness in not grasping what had happened. He proclaimed that the words from their own prophets had told that this was exactly what must be. He then lifted up scriptures to interpret this event in the words of scripture. Why then are you surprised? Why are you speculating about what happened? Didn’t he tell you that this was going to be?
The conversation went on with the stranger doing the teaching and the two disciples listening intently. It’s a typical Jesus thing—to teach and to help us understand the workings of our God. Wouldn’t you have liked to hear that discussion?
At some point in the late afternoon they arrived in Emmaus, their destination. These two disciples were good people, polite and generous. They asked their traveling companion to stay with them overnight. That, of course, meant a meal, and Jesus was either asked to do the blessing or he, still being in the teaching mode took that place at the table.
Listen to the way Luke describes what happened next. “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them.” What does that remind you of? Exactly—Jesus’ last supper with the disciples. Let me remind you of Luke’s description of that event. “Then he [Jesus] took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you’”
Took --Blessed, or in this case, gave thanks, -- broke—gave it to them. That’s not a coincidence. This was a sacramental moment. Jesus had already offered his body to be broken. Now he brings these things to their memory--- and to ours.
This is the moment that suddenly the scales covering their eyes fall away. Now they recognize Jesus. I think God needed Jesus to be unrecognized in the beginning of their encounter. He needed the disciples to hear the explanation that Jesus offered. God needed them to understand it on a cognitive level first.
But the cognitive level by itself is insufficient until it hits the level of the heart. In the blessing and breaking of the bread their hearts were engaged. Now they got it. Now they understood with both their heads AND their hearts. Now they could fully accept Jesus as Risen Lord and Savior.
These disciples encountered Jesus. They were now connected to him with a super-glue type of strength. Now they could reflect on their time on the road with Jesus. “Did not our hearts burn within us?” At that earlier point so much was going on. The stimuli of their surroundings, their muscles moving, their minds trying to keep up with Jesus, their questions and thoughts, their glances at one another to see if their friend was getting this, too. With all of that confusion, the experience of passion sort of got lost. It was just enough below the surface that they didn’t connect with it. But now, in reflection, they recognized that at a deep and instinctual level they had felt Jesus presence all along.
We can relate to Cleopas and this other, can’t we? Do you remember when Jesus quit being an intellectual construct and became, instead, personal with you? Do you remember that moment when you wanted him to be YOUR Lord and Savior? It was probably NOT in the midst of an intellectual study. It was probably NOT when you memorized the 10 commandments. It was probably NOT when you played the shepherd or maybe even a sheep in the Christmas program in Sunday School. All that was important. It laid the groundwork, but it was when someone helped you to know the grandeur of God, and at the same time how very much God loved you that the personal nature of our faith sunk in. Maybe it was when the world around you seemed to be falling apart and God threw you a life line. Maybe it was at a moment when you felt something so passionately that you could almost hear God’s voice saying, “Do something. I will go with you.”
That was the moment when the intellectual became the personal. That was the time when you really felt God’s incredible love, and his hope for our world and God’s power to help bring that hope to fruition.
That’s what was happening with Cleopas and his friend. They were encountering Christ. Their protective shields had dropped, and they got it. In our opening story Jody had yet to experience Jesus in that personal way. Not her fault. It happens in God’s time, but Connie can help open the door. She can do exactly what these two disciples did. She can tell her friend the story and her own experiences of Jesus. That’s what the disciples did. They ran back to Jerusalem to share with the others what they had experienced. They helped to lay the ground work for God’s in-breaking moment to touch other hearts and other lives.
That’s why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. It’s not a legalistic thing. Rather it’s the means by which we remember in a totally experiential way. I think of it as a booster shot of faith. A booster shot of Jesus’ love.
We all need booster shots. We all need to know that Jesus is as present as our very breath. We all need to know that God is using us to make our world a better place.
We here at First United Presbyterian are working on our own booster shots. We will be telling the story of Jesus’ love by sharing our space with older adults in the community. It will give these beloved children of God a place to connect with others and to chase away the loneliness. We will be able to share God’s love with them, not through preaching or proselytizing, but in a relational way that opens doors to new life. I hope there will be opportunities to tell our stories of faith, to invite these others to join us for worship, to assure them that they are special and beloved by God. God will give us the opening for that when the time is right.
So may we, too feel our hearts burning within us. Christ our Savior is risen. He is risen for us!
*HYMN The Strife Is O’er #119
(You may be seated.)
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.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS TO GOD
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
*HYMN Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing #538
(You may be seated.)
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.