Sermon for April 26
Sermon Luke 24: 13-22
A Friend once gave me sticker that says “If you want to see God – keep texting while you drive”. According to the scripture reading today, apparently if you want to see Jesus, keep walking and talking.
That scripture, is about two people who were walking down the road to Emmaus, a little village about 7 miles from Jerusalem, when a stranger joined them. That wouldn’t happen in this world today because of social distancing, we would have to stay 4 cubits apart.
The first question for me is; Who are the Two people? It seems unlikely that they are part of the disciples, as the scripture says that later they went to see the eleven. (Judas had already ended his life when Jesus was crucified). It does seem logical that these two going down the road may have been a local couple, possibly husband and wife, as they invited the stranger in for a meal.
One account in John 19:25 says Cleopas (the only person named in the encounter) is the husband of a woman named Mary who was at the cross. One the other hand they don’t seem to know who this stranger is. It does say their eyes were dimmed so maybe the woman was crying and Cleopas simply doesn’t know because possibly he and his wife don’t communicate well. That is something that used to happen in the old days. Wives and husbands didn’t always communicate well but that is changed now as in the last 8 weeks people are spending a lot more time together talking.
These two do seem to know the local news as they are astonished that the stranger has not heard of the crucifixion. They call it ”The biggest event in recent days”.
The stranger on his part is surprised that these people don’t understand what is happening in the larger picture, so he relates the events of the bible leading up to this weekend. They don’t seem to be active “Church goers” because they don’t know the story “beginning with Moses” very well.
So these two people who Jesus encounters are a local couple who have some awareness of Christ but are not “religious”. To use a modern terminology they are SBNR; Spiritual but not religious.
They invite the stranger in. I assume it was partly out of hospitality; partly out of curiosity and partly because there is some kind of a connection to him. Later they say “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was present”
Finally when they share bread, he uses an expression from the Last Supper at which point they understand who he is. Then he disappears from their sight.
To me this whole story is about breaking down barriers. Jesus approaches two people. The people welcome the stranger. Jesus helps them with their questions. They invited him in and feed him and after he leaves they search for others of like mind.
Last week I said our world is often divided by differences based on fear and misunderstanding. One area when this is common is between people who are “outside the church” and those “inside the church”. Both sides are sometimes leery of the other. Both sometimes feel they have the inside track on spirituality. The others are either too pagan, or too ritualistic or too religious or institutionalized.
But both groups have much in common.
I find it interesting and humorous when people say that Mahatma Ghandi was one of the greatest Christians of the last century. He was the non-violent liberator of India. He had great wisdom and often great quotes. He did have a huge regard for Jesus and often cited him. However he was a Hindu. It shows how similar our sources of wisdom are.
Some of Jesus famous sayings and lessons actually come from other cultures.
The other day someone sent me a video of Albert Einstein and letters he wrote to his daughter. In it he claims that as brilliant as science is, it cannot control or have near the power of love. He writes “God is love and love is God”. We may not think that Einstein is a source of spirituality, but everyone is.
We are all struggling with the same questions of life. We are all asking about meaning and the best way to live a full life. There are many different approaches to spirituality. We can learn from each other.
The story we read is full of movement. Nine verbs describe action. Jesus went outside the “church” and “outsiders” came in.
Crisis brings us together. Covid 19, the shooting in Nova Scotia, the crucifixion and many other critical moments unify us. They make us search.
The Journey of life means we are going to meet many different people. We need to welcome each other whether it is in the church or outside. The wisdom of Christ can be found everywhere.
We are called to share our spirituality with others. We are called to have others share their spirituality with us. We are called to walk down this road together.
God, in a world in turmoil we listen for your voice
Small acts of mercy give us hope
A kindness done, shows us your word found a home
A stranger helped, lets us know of our unity
A coveted fortune redirected – let us feel your idea of sharing
Relationships mended teach us of your forgiveness
When there is pain – we search
Knowing you are there suffering with us
When there is confusion – we know you didn’t cause it but you are there to lead us out-
Where there is death or tragedy we come to you for comfort
Help us to seek love
We pray for those in distress, in Nova Scotia or anywhere in the world .
We pray in silence for those close to our hearts……….
We repeat together the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by 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 those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever