Sunday 26 April 2020, 3rd Sunday of Easter

Contents

  • Welcome
  • Hymn             416 Christ is alive! Let Christians sing (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
  • All-age time
  • Prayer
  • Reading         Luke 24: 13-35  (Good News Bible)
  • Reflection
  • Prayer for others
  • Hymn             512 To God be the glory (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
  • Blessing

Welcome and let us worship God

‘When they asked, he gave them bread of heaven in plenty’

Psalm 105: 40
click on the play > button to hear Ian’s welcome

Hymn 416

click on the play > button to hear the tune

1 Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.

The cross stands empty to the sky.

Let streets and homes with praises ring.

Love, drowned in death, shall never die.

2 Christ is alive! No longer bound

to distant years in Palestine,

but saving, healing, here and now,

and touching every place and time.

3 In every insult, rift, and war,

where colour, scorn, or wealth divide,

Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,

and lives, where even hope has died.

4 Women and men, in age and youth,

can feel the Spirit, hear the call,

and find the way, the life, the truth,

revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

5 Christ is alive, and comes to bring

good news to this and every age,

till earth and sky and ocean ring

with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

All-age time

Today’s story involves Cleopas and someone else, friends of Jesus, meeting him on their way home after a day in Jerusalem (a bit like travelling from Dumbuck to Cardross). It is Easter Day and they meet the Risen Jesus, but they don’t recognise him, till they invite him in for his tea (and presumably offer him a bed for the night). They rush all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the others

For older participants

  • Look out/ look up some photos of places you visited on holiday or days out. What are your memories of those places?
  • What is the most exciting trip you ever made?
  • What was your nightmare journey?
  • Share your story with someone else. (Tactful thing might be to phone them up, ask for their memories, and then add yours afterwards!)

For younger participants

Find your way through the maze:

  • Something to do:

Assume that you are fit and well, money is no object, and Covid-19 is gone. Plan a day out. Where would you like to go? What would you do? What would you take with you?

Again, with the same assumptions as above, plan your ‘dream holiday’

Opening Prayer

Lord

There are many things in life for which we want to give you thanks:

           family and friends

           food to eat, clean water to drink

           homes to live in

           being part of a community where people care for and support each other

           having education, healthcare and social care for all

           and so much more

but there are also things that trouble us

 questions that won’t go away:

           why did so many have to die from this virus?

why can’t people live together in peace?

           why do some people treat others so badly, so unfairly?

           why do some people have to suffer so much?

we don’t really want to engage in a philosophical or theological discussion

we simply want health and healing,

 wholeness and fullness of life

 for everyone

You know and understand how we feel

           not just because you are God

           but because in Jesus you experienced human fife

           experienced pain and suffering

           experienced having to stand by and watch

Forgive us when we cause pain or injustice

 when we cause it to happen without doing anything about it

 when we try to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there

Help us to live more faithfully by your values and standards

and to work to establish them in your world

Through Christ our Lord we pray Amen

Bible reading

Luke 24: 13-35

click play > to listen

On that same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about 11 kilometres from Jerusalem, and they were talking to each other about the things that had happened. As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; they saw him, but somehow did not recognise him. Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”

They stood still, with sad faces. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”

Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.

As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going further; but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!”

The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognised the Lord when he broke the bread.

Luke 24: 13-35

Reflection

At the present time some of us aren’t making any journeys because of the lockdown restrictions on age and health condition – and that causes frustration. Some can go as far as we can travel in an hour on foot for our daily exercise (we know we ought to be grateful that we can at least do that, but we still long for the day when we can go where we like for as long as we like). Some travel regularly, going to work, but those journeys may involve apprehension about going on public transport or what the situation at work will be like, or they may feel tired and frustrated. Those journeys that we used to make – on holiday, to see friends, for weekends away, to concerts/ plays/ shows/ gigs/ dances – are something to dream about, to remember fondly or through rose-tinted spectacles. [After reading this, why not get out some old photos and reminisce?] There are possibly other journeys that we have made which we don’t remember so fondly: to the hospital, to the ‘headie’s room’, to the boss’s office, that nightmare in the car/ train etc.

Journeys take us from our usual, familiar place somewhere else, somewhere different. A number of major works of literature involve journeys – from the Canterbury Tales to Lord of the Rings, from Kidnapped and Catriona to Huckleberry Finn – and as in ‘real life’ those tales involve twists and turns, unexpected happenings, setbacks/ surprises/ disappointments.

In the Bible some of the key developments in the relationship between the Hebrew people and God come about as a result of journeys: Abraham leaving his base near the Persian Gulf for the Holy Land; the Hebrew tribes going to Egypt in the time of Joseph, and leaving under Moses and Joshua; the deportation of Jews to Babylon as slaves and captives; the return of a minority to the Holy Land under Persian rule (to name a few). They were different journeys, different emotions were involved, but all were ‘learning experiences’ which involved much heart-searching and mental wrestling.

Journeys feature in the Gospels too. Jesus was always on the move, going from town to town, village to village, teaching and healing (and sometimes trying to avoid ‘the authorities’). In due course, in the Book of Acts, we hear of journeys made by the Apostles and their associates in the Holy Land and around the North Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. At the best of times these would not have been comfortable experiences, but often they involved hardship, imprisonment and punishment. Today’s Gospel reading tells of a journey made by Cleopas and another (his friend, his wife?) It is about 11 kilometres or 6 miles from Emmaus to Jerusalem. Presumably they had travelled 6 miles earlier in the day to worship in the Holy City, the tally was 12 by the time they sat down for their evening meal, and 18 by the time they reached the disciples in the late evening. They were probably tired, foot-sore (open-toed sandals on rough tracks), and even in broad daylight there may have been a risk of being mugged.

They didn’t ‘keep themselves to themselves’ as they travelled, but chatted with folk they met; they followed the usual custom and offered their fellow traveller hospitality, though he was a stranger; and in doing these things their knowledge and understanding and faith grew. In a way it is a metaphor for the church’s life and work. We are on a journey – our personal ‘life journeys’, but also the journey of the ‘people of God’ looking to carry out the work that God wants us to do.

Time and life don’t stand still, and neither can we as the church. We need to keep reflecting/ changing/ responding, to the world around in order to be the church that Jesus wants us to be – his hands and feet in the world, the bearer of his Good News. It seems ironic that, having spent a couple of years reflecting on where Jesus wants us to be (both as the Church of Scotland in Dumbarton, and as the church nationally) the world in which we seek to serve has changed so much in the space of about a month. The fact that this service is online, and is being followed by those who usually come to church on a Sunday and by others who do not, is but one example of how things have changed. So God wants us to pause and reflect again, to see how to adapt t this changed and changing world.

A journey involves involve twists and turns, unexpected happenings, setbacks/ surprises/ disappointments. We know that Jesus travels with us on this journey. He is our guide: he knows what lies ahead, he knows what resources we will need to cope, and he will ensure that we have them (in full, on time). What he asks of us is to be open to his leading, to be ready to embrace change where it is needed, and to work hard in serving him and building his Kingdom.

Prayers for others

Almighty and everlasting God

           whose loving-kindness embraces all the world

           hear our prayers for others

we pray for those who are ill, at home or in hospital

           with physical or mental illnesses

           those who care for them

            medical, nursing and other staff and carers

            who are often working under great pressure and with insufficient resources

           those who worry about them

           those undergoing treatment, those waiting for treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who need help and support at home

 but can’t get it, or won’t have it

 putting extra stress on family, friends and neighbours

           those responsible for managing health and social care services

            who take important decisions about

            funding, staffing and where and how services will be provided

           those who are working in research

            looking for new treatments and cures

           for those who are lonely or feeling low, grieving a friend or loved one

           for those who are worried about work, about money, about home

           for those with lives and livelihoods devastated by natural disasters

for those who long for peace and justice

those who work for peace and justice

           we pray for the Queen

           and all in positions of responsibility

           we pray for your church

           here and throughout the world

           help us to live together in love and unity

           and be your hands, your feet, your witness

           in everything we do

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

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.

And 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,

 the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Hymn 512

click play > to hear the tune

1 To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life-gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory! Great things he has done!

2 O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
for every offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

3 Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our joy and our wonder, when Jesus we see.

Blessing

Christ was raised from the dead

by the glorious power of the Father.

Set out then on a new life with Christ.

 and the blessing of God Almighty,

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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