Uniting together, Caring for all, Seeking God

Service Sheet 26 April 2020

Uniting Church Sketty ‘Worship from Home’ for Sunday 26th  April 2020

Prepared with you all in my prayers by Rev Leslie

Opening Prayers

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Loving God, we thank you that you come and meet us where we are.  We thank you that you break through locked doors, the locked doors of our homes and the locked doors of our hearts.  We thank you that you meet with us on our journey through life, even though we sometimes fail to recognise you.  We thank you that you come to us, to share our story and share our lives.  But we are sorry that so often we fail to take notice of you, preoccupied as we are with our own selves and our own needs.  Open our eyes to see you, open our ears to hear you, open our hearts to receive you – and to recognise you in our lives and in the life of the world.  Amen

Introduction

I absolutely love the stories of the encounters that people had with the Risen Christ in those early days and weeks after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  They are so full of the reality of life – of failed disciples, scared lives, people who so often don’t notice His presence among them.  The stories remind me of me – of us!  And that’s why I love them.

Reading for today:  Luke 24: 13-35

We all know and love this story of the Emmaus Road.  It’s easy to read it too fast because we know it.  So try to take your time – and see what jumps out at you today.

Hymn: (from Singing the Faith website)

This is a new hymn – but I thought the words were apt to both the bible story and our current situation.  The tune is familiar – ‘Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord – StF 186)
Words © Rosemary Wakelin

Reflection

Isn’t it wonderful how, during these strange times, bible stories take on a whole new perspective?  For the first time ever reading this account I was struck by the notion of walking along a road with other people, not of your household!!  Under today’s lockdown rules, this story could not have happened (unless of course they were conversing over a distance of 2 metres!).  But on the other hand, the gem of this beautiful and familiar story is perhaps more meaningful than ever.

Here were two disciples confused and bereaved, quite possibly uncertain of what lay ahead.  Does that ring any bells?  Here were two disciples living in a world where so much had changed, they were in limbo, they were bewildered… and yet in that very situation they recognised Jesus.  In the depths of their despair, they (eventually) recognised him walking alongside them.

This encounter now takes on a whole new meaning for us.  And what can we notice?  Well, first of all, they were talking with each other, sharing perhaps their fears, their loss, their worries.  There is a lot of talking going in within our congregations.  Oh, it’s true, not as we take a walk together, but on the phone or by email or whatever.  That’s so important, I think.  All the experts are telling us that it is vital to recognise how we are feeling (even if that changes from day to day).  They tell us that it’s okay not to be okay.  They tell us that recognising feelings, talking about them promotes resilience – and we are all learning how to become more resilient.

But it was into that situation that these two disciples were blessed by the presence of the risen Christ.  They recognised him in the act of something very ordinary – the sharing of an ordinary meal.

This story is about recognising the risen Christ – it’s about how we recognise the risen Christ in the ordinariness of our lives.  And this encounter shows us that that’s not always very easy or straightforward – after all, the two disciples failed to recognise Jesus for a considerable time! 

In our world too, Jesus can be hard to recognise.  I am always wary of those who confidently proclaim that ‘the Lord has spoken to them’ as though that’s the most ordinary thing in the world.

In my experience, it’s never been quite as easy as that – quite as cut and dried as that.  In my world, Jesus is hard to recognise.  The presence of Jesus can be elusive, hard to pin down.

Have I seen him or not? Has he spoken words of love and challenge or not? That’s the constant question.  But then, sometimes, like a traveller on the Emmaus Road, I catch a glimpse. I see something and I am certain. I hear something and I understand that for one brief, glorious moment, everything is clear. 

We do not ask for certainty all the time.  But from time to time it is good to know, to be reassured.  So even if at this time are unable to make long journeys, we can nonetheless seek the Risen Christ where we are, in the ordinary things that we do.  And if, when, we catch a glimpse of His elusive presence, then we will know, that whatever the future holds, He will be with us on our journey.

Personal Response

  • Think of an image of the Emmaus Road. Why might it be called the Emmaus Door? (I don’t have any answers, it just intrigued me – so let me know your thoughts!).
  • What does the image convey to you?
  • Prayer doodle.  Did you do any prayer doodling over Holy Week and Easter?  I know some did and some didn’t!  But if it was something that you tried, maybe do another one for this week – and maybe one for last week as well.  The word for last week could be ‘Peace’.  The word for this week could be ‘Presence’.

Pause and be still for a few moments in prayer

  • Bring to mind the blessings you have received this week and give thanks.
  • Bring to mind people and situations known to you, especially all those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and offer your thoughts to God.
  • What else is going on in the world and in people’s lives that we no longer hear about?  Pray about these situations.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn:  StF 314 This joyful Eastertide

Blessing

Adapted from a traditional Celtic prayer.  As you say these words, imagine saying them to the people that you sit next to in church; imagine the whole congregation around you.

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

The sunshine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the presence of Christ

Wherever you are on the road.