Will you pray with me
Lord, please help us to discover by these words I bring tonight the inner meaning of our faith which is always active in love. May the words I speak be acceptable to you.
In Jesus’s name Amen.
Following on the busy Easter, we get the feeling we know, of watching a great tragedy filled with incredible scenes all those decades ago. And this week I had so many different thoughts on the way I was going to give this sermon.
My memory is not that good and I found I was trying too hard to find a modern way of explaining that reappearance of Jesus after that crucifixion.
I opened my computer on Thursday and checked my emails with my attention being drawn to an email from my local cinema The Duke of York.
Screaming out at me were the words.. The Brain sees what it wants to see!!!
This week we are very excited to present GHOST STORIES a horror stage show starring Andy Nyman as an arch-skeptic caught up in a terror-filled quest in a ghoulish playground for the undead and otherworldly.
Isn’t that what we have just been through these last few days of Easter?
We had horror… Jesus hung on a cross speared by a centurian
…. jeered by a crowd ….. then carried to a cave for burial where finally He disappeared!! They lost Him!!! All the ingredients for a horror film.
But it didn’t end there because as you heard in our reading from Luke 24 Jesus reappeared to a pair of travelers, one named Cleopas the other maybe Mrs. Cleopas we don’t know. They were walking to Emmaus a place we know little about except it is understood it was a town with baths and was seven miles from Jerusalem…north, south, east or west something else we don’t know.
The only Emmaus I know is the charity organisation in Hove where I drop off my unwanted furnishings etc.
These two travelers had been to celebrate the Passover a religious obligation for every faithful Jewish male living within fifteen miles of the city. Something we as The Village MCC replicated at our Seger meal before the last Good Friday.
While they were walking a person joined them and started discussing Jesus of Nazareth and all the things he had done. Now, these two had been following this Jesus they were talking about for some considerable time. Wouldn’t you think that at some point on this long walk either Cleopas or his missus would have realised who he was? Were they blind? They had known him in Jerusalem. Was he incognito, veiled or a ghost or what?
It has been suggested that they were too grief-stricken, too shaken by what they had seen. OK sorrow can do that, make you numb to what you see. In any case, don’t you know that if you or I had been there would we have known who he was? As I get on I sometimes find I have difficulty putting a name to the face.
Have you had occasion to try and remember a name to the face you see.?
Maybe if we were under a terrific time of stress we may not even remember the face…who knows?
Jesus joined them as a stranger and asked them what they were talking about. They stop walking their faces reflecting their sadness. “Are you the only person from Jerusalem who missed the happenings in the holy city these last few days? “ they ask. What do you mean the stranger enquires, “ Oh we had a dream. We hoped he would be the one to set Israel free, but, the freedom we wanted was thrown away. They arrested him, tried him, convicted him and then they executed him. Don’t you know about that?
Well, they must have discussed quite a lot more because they had walked almost seven miles and the sun was setting as they entered Emmaus. So just as any good Jewish person does Cleopas offers the hospitality of his home to this stranger who was so interesting.
Upon entering their home they invite him to dinner with the bread and the wine and as we now hear every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper THEN their eyes are opened and they recognise Him.
Why NOW was it because the light from the lamp finally hit Jesus’s face at the right angle? Or because they had eaten with him before? Maybe they saw how he broke the bread and shared the wine whatever it was they finally grasped that here was the person they had seen put to death on the cross.
They then realised that here was Jesus, the man who had walked, chatting with them for all those miles but just then as if in a horror movie … BANG he was gone!
Pretty big stuff and so with night drawing on they decided to return to Jerusalem immediately as they were so excited.
Several things are striking about this story. One of them is how incredibly NORMAL these two disciples were. How suddenly a stranger joins them as they walk and talk. They don’t recognise him, after all, Jesus is the last person they expected to see.
This story is especially significant for people like you and me. You see these disciples were not part of the original 12 apostles.. the inner core of Jesus’s followers. Yet they were central characters in what must be the most heartwarming of all the resurrection accounts. It does not matter that these two disciples were not part of the “inner circle”, what mattered was that Jesus loved them and they needed his presence. They had been broken hearted and shattered by the horror of his death on the cross three days earlier.
We are left to wonder how much of that last week of his earthly life the two walkers had been part of. Had they seen the trial, witnessed the cruelty on the hill or even known about the disappearance of the body?
Then they were on their way home, all hopes of a messiah swept away by what had happened, feeling defeated, disappointed, all dreams of a new start washed away.
The Lord has risen indeed and he has appeared to them. They go back to the city to tell the other disciples what they had experienced.
It was going to be the hardest thing they had to make all those others believe them.
So what does this tell us. It is not about who we are but about who God is.
Jesus came to the ordinary, the everyday people who took time to know who he really was but when they did they had to tell everyone.
Here when we meet at The Village MCC that is what we do when we take communion..we see Jesus. The truth be told. God is not always easy to see ..even when we are looking.
Please let me repeat a verse heard some time ago.
Sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often everyday moments. The moments which, if we do not look with more than our eyes, or listen with more than our ears. Reveal only…a garden, a stranger coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other ordinary meal. But if we look with our hearts, if we listen with our being, faith and imagination…what we may see is Jesus himself.