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Weekly Worship Resources and Bible Study Notes

Easter 3


Introduction

We hear a lot about post traumatic stress, when people suffer from a great shock or witness a terrible event. Two of Jesus followers were in such a state when they set off on the seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They had seen their hopes in Jesus shattered and they had seen him cruelly put to death on the cross. Those who have lost somebody they love will know something of the pain and distress of bereavement, the shock is real and no amount of expectation can prepare us for the separation which follows.

It was at that time, when all optimism was lost, that Jesus spoke to these disciples. As Jesus spoke to them they realised who he was and through their confusion and loss they had hope reawakened.

All of those who seek reassurance and encouragement should read this story and perhaps discover  afresh the sense of anticipation which those disciples found, that all would be well.

Opening Verse of Scripture1 Peter 1:18

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

 

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty 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.  Amen.  Common Worship

Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us also to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father.  Common Worship Shorter Collect

Christ our friend, you ask for our love in spite of our betrayal. Give us courage to embrace forgiveness, know you again, and trust ourselves in you; we pray in your name. Amen   Methodist Worship

God of life and love, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread. Open our eyes that we may see him in his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Methodist Worship


First Bible Reading  Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Second Reading  1 Peter 1: 17-23

Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.


Gospel Reading Luke 24: 13-35

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.  “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.

Post Communion Sentence

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. Amen.

 

Commentary

The Emmaus meal Two disciples are walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a journey of seven miles, when they meet the risen Jesus. They are not part of the inner circle of disciples, just of the larger group of people who followed Jesus. One of the disciples was called Cleopas, we are not told the name of the other one, it might have been that they were a couple. The two offer hospitality jointly as would a husband and wife. The story does not tell us why the travellers were going to Emmaus, although their hospitality to Jesus -- their invitation to dinner -- makes it likely that Emmaus is their home.


This is not a straightforward meeting, there is suspense and mystery, because they do not recognise who Jesus is. We might wonder how this could be. Did Jesus look younger or older, was his appearance changed after the resurrection? Luke tells us that the difficulty arises because their eyes were kept from recognising him. So, the problem is not that Jesus looks different or that the Emmaus disciples are distracted, rather they are being acted upon, God prevents them from seeing what would otherwise be obvious.
 

Jesus speaks with the disciples and asks them what they are talking about. The question from Jesus brings amazement from Cleopas who assumes that Jesus must be the only person who has not heard what has happened. There is an irony here, we know that far from being ignorant of events, Jesus is the only person who truly understands those events. Think how those disciples must have felt. They were struggling with faith, they had committed so much to Jesus and believed he would be the one to redeem Israel. After so much expectation, Jesus had died and they were utterly discouraged, so much so that they could not attach significance to the testimony of those others who had seen Jesus. This real post traumatic stress!
 

There is an enormous lesson for us here. When we are fed up, fearful discouraged or short on hope, we too may speak to Jesus. When we do, we may, like the disciples, wonder if he is oblivious to what is going on. However, the truth is that Jesus is not unaware of events. Not only does Jesus have knowledge of all things, there is nothing over which he does not have authority. The story today holds lessons for all of us as we struggle to retain our faith trust and commitment in the face of so much which seeks to undermine our confidence in God.

Cleopas tells Jesus what the disciples believed. That they thought Jesus a prophet, who was killed by the chief priests and Jewish leaders. No mention is made of the Roman authorities or the crowds. Luke holds the Jewish leaders responsible for Jesus' death. Cleopas stresses the hope which they had once held, that Jesus would redeem Israel. This is of course hope in the past tense, now there was no hope, they were distraught. The grief which they had was so immense that nothing, not even the testimony of the women who had seen Jesus brought them any comfort.


The response of Jesus is to reprimand the two Emmaus disciples for being slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared. The prophecies pointed both to Jesus ministry and to his suffering, death, and resurrection. Luke clearly regards the Old Testament Scriptures as sufficient for the generation of faith. So even today, we give the reading of scripture a prominent place in our worship, because it witnesses powerfully to Christ.
 

As they reached the home of the disciples. Jesus goes to leave them. Custom requires them to invite Jesus to dinner, and custom requires Jesus to decline unless they insist ! The story now reminds us of Abraham at Mamre, entertaining angels unaware (Gen 18:1-15). The lesson for us is that we never know what blessings we might receive by giving hospitality or what blessings we might lose by foregoing it.
 

It was when they came to dinner, when he was 'at table with them', that Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. These are almost exactly the words that Luke used to describe Jesus' actions at the Last Supper (22:19). Note especially the four verbs: took, blessed, broke, and gave. This is Eucharistic (Holy Communion) language. Normally, the host would perform these actions in a home and the celebrant would perform them in a worship service. In this case Jesus, the guest, becomes the host at the table.
 

Earlier their eyes were kept from recognizing him, but now their eyes are opened. The exposition of the scriptures prepared them for recognition, which comes with the breaking of bread. It was God who veiled their eyes, and it is God who unveils them. As soon as they recognize him, Jesus vanishes. Jesus began revealing himself through the scriptures, then he completes the revelation through the Eucharist. Still today we know that Jesus reveals himself through Word and Sacrament, and makes himself known.
 

Following the encounter we are told that the Emmaus disciples went to share their story with the disciples in Jerusalem. It was seven miles back to Jerusalem, it was late, but they could not keep the good news to themselves. Once they arrived in Jerusalem, they found the Eleven and their companions discussing Jesus' appearance to Peter. Only after they hear Peter's testimony are they able to share their own. They tell what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 
The message is made clear that Jesus was alive. There are also other messages, the importance of the scriptures, the need to share our faith with others and listen to the testimony of Jesus. We are also encouraged to learn hope from the Emmaus Road. We bring our disappointments and our lack of hope to Jesus, and like those disciples on the Emmaus Road we will find that he alone is the one who holds the truth for our lives. Charles Royden   (some material used from www.lectionary.org)

 

Meditation

‘A walk with God.’
God seeks to walk with us and console us in many ways, sadly we so often fail to recognize his presence. We are so caught up in the past, sp pre-occupied with ourselves that we fail to see God alongside us in our need.
 

Pope John Paul II said
"Before God, each human being is always unique and unrepeatable,
somebody thought of and chosen from eternity."

 

Hymns

Easter 3 hymn Sheet

  1. I Know that my Redeemer lives (Tune Church Triumphant)

  2. Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks

  3. I heard the voice of Jesus say (Tune Kingsfold)

  4. It is a thing most wonderful (Tune Heronsgate)

  5. We have a gospel to proclaim (Tune Fulda)

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Christ our friend, you ask for our love in spite of our betrayal. Give us courage to embrace forgiveness, know you again, and trust ourselves in you; we pray in your name. Amen Methodist Worship.

Lord Jesus, you led the two disciples on the Emmaus Road from the known to the unknown. You walked with them in their grief and the despair. You listened to them and understood their needs. You gently guided them through the scriptures helping them to understand what was going on in the world

Lord Jesus you used the usual to reveal the unusual. The stranger remained a stranger until dinnertime.
Then you took bread and blessed it. You took the cup and gave thanks. You transformed an ordinary meal into holy time that transformed their weak hearts into burning hearts. Help us so to find our ordinary situations transformed by your incredible presence.

Lord Jesus be our companion on the road which we travel. Use us to bless the lives of others and to be a part of your revolutionary movement to transform the world.
May we too be your disciples, ready to follow and willing to lead others to a relationship with you.

 

Additional Material

 

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty 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.  Amen

Post Communion Prayer

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. Amen

Commentary

Our reading today from Luke tells the story of two otherwise unknown disciples who are making the seven mile walk away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The two disciples have left Jerusalem after Jesus' bloody Passover death. They perhaps heard about the women's report and Peter's account of the empty tomb (24: 1-10); but they do not feel convinced enough by the rumours and so they depart for home. On their journey, in which they must have felt despondent, they meet a stranger. How they could walk for seven miles with Jesus and not know who he was is a mystery to us, however to ask the question is perhaps to miss the point. Remember Luke is a writer and he tells his story to make his points like all writers do. Even some preachers today have been known sometimes to stretch things a bit in order to make a point! Of course the message of Luke is clear, Jesus' appearance has changed and that recognising him requires more than physical sight. No matter what doubts they have had about Jesus, when he broke the bread there could be no mistaking that they were in the presence of the risen Lord.

So it was that the early church gathered regularly to share together in breaking bread, this was at the heart of what it meant to belong to the church (Acts 2:42). Of course the Emmaus story guides us to learn that Jesus is still revealed and met as we Christians gather together and break bread.

However this story should not be seen as an attempt to explain away the physical resurrection of Jesus and replace it with a challenge to recognise a spiritual Christ of faith alive in our hearts. The risen Jesus is not a ghost, he was not only seen by the disciples, he confronted the unbelieving, he ate bread with those from Emmaus and he was able to expound the scriptures. The Gnostic heretics who were later to claim that Jesus never possessed a physical body, would find passages such as this from Luke very hard to deal with. Charles Royden

Meditation

Bishops and scientists have expressed to the Prime Minister their shared concerns about science teaching at Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead, and called for strict monitoring of the curricula of proposed faith schools. Signatories to a short letter to Tony Blair include the our own Bishop of St Albans as well as Bishops of Oxford, Hereford, Birmingham, Southwark and Portsmouth. They argue that the theory of evolution is not a “faith position”, as the school maintains, and call for the respective disciplines of science and religious studies to be properly respected. The school is sponsored by conservative Evangelical groups and teaches that evolution is only a theory competing with creationism. They believe that the world is only a few thousand years old and was created in six days at a period of fairly recent history. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister defended Emmanuel — referred to by one columnist in The Guardian as a “fruitcake school” — as “achieving very good results”.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Richard Harries, said on Wednesday that “young-earth” creationists brought Christianity into disrepute.“ You may like to reflect yourself on your own response to those who claim that the Bible gives us a literal history of a world which is only a few thousands years old. Those who hold to a view that the world has been millions of years in the making, perhaps with species evolving over time, would nevertheless want to say that behind all this there is a loving and purposeful God.

Hymns

  1. I know that my redeemer lives
  2. Led like a lamb to the slaughter
  3. I know not why
  4. Jesus the Lord said ‘I am the bread.’
  5.  To God be the glory

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Be light to my eyes, O Lord, and music to my ears. Be to me sweetness of taste and contentment of heart. Be sunshine to me in the day, food at my table and repose in the night. I give to you, O Lord, my body and my soul, all that I have and all that I am; my fame, my friends, my liberty and my life. Dispose of me according to your gracious will and the glory of your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. John Cosin, 1594-1672

God of yesterday, we thank you, for you have been with us through the good and bad, even when we have not recognised you. God of today, we seek your presence now; help us to open our eyes and look in the right places. God of tomorrow, we trust you for what is to come; give us the confidence to follow in your way. God of all times and all places, each new day is yours; renew our lives day by day in your service, for Christ's sake. Amen Graham Carter, Chair, Darlington District