“The risen Christ who breaks with wounded hand the bread for those who fail to understand, reveals himself, despite their lingering tears, enflames their hearts, then quickly disappears.” Amen. (Glory to God, 257, 3)
CALL TO WORSHIP(based on Luke 24)
L: Jesus walks with us, even when we don’t know it.
P: Jesus talks with us, even when we can’t understand.
L: Jesus opens our eyes and our hearts to the glory of God.
All: Praise to Christ, who is with us always.
I Come to the Garden Alone (He walks with me...)
Let us pray...
O risen and blessed Lord, who walked with your sad and grieving followers on the Emmaus road, draw near to us and walk with us in these troubled times in which we live, so that our faith may be strengthened, and we may rejoice in recognizing you in our own lives, and then bear witness to your resurrected presence and hope. In your name we pray, Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE LESSON
Hebrews 13: 1-6: “Concluding admonitions: show hospitality to strangers”
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen. AMEN!
Let us pray...
In this morning, O God, our prayers go out to you. Accept now the sacrifice of our worship and thanksgiving. Assure us of your forgiveness, and make us to be, indeed, children of this day. Remember all who join with us in prayer, and all our fellow-disciples, wherever they may be in your vast kingdom. Pour out upon your children who stand in need of your help, the riches of your grace, in Jesus Christ, our Savior.
O you who create all things to serve your great purpose, and who are the author of beauty and of order: we thank you for the splendor of this time of earth’s renewal: for the glory of the sky by day and by night, for healthful wind and quickening rain, for the flowers, the bird song, the joyousness of every living thing. In all
that you have made and are making still, may we see the wonder of your wisdom, and the steadfastness of your care.
This day, O God, we would bring you also our thanks for people: for those who surround us with their love and care; for those who are an example to us and show us the kind of persons we desire to become; for those who are an inspiration to us and strengthen our will to be the very best we can be; for those who are a comfort to us and bring healing when we are hurt; for those who are a strength to us and make us feel equal to any task or test; for those who work and sacrifice, that we may have true freedom and just peace. And especially in these days of national emergency, we thank you for all those frontline heroes, those faithful warriors in this current battle who protect and even save all of us. For all these people we give you thanks; but we thank you even more for your greatest gift—the person of Jesus the Christ, to be a pattern for our lives, a companion in every way, and the Savior of our souls.
O God of love and mercy, we lift into your presence those who are ill or recovering from illness this day, especially those whose lives have been changed forever by COVID-19. Grant them healing, that all may serve you in serving others, with healthy bodies, honest and alert minds, brave characters, and with wills empowered to do the right. Give confidence and strength in your care to any who will face hospitalization or surgery or any other difficult tasks and challenges in this coming week. And to any who have lately lost a loved one to death, shine as an ever-brightening light in the midst of their temporary darkness. Just as we mourn with those who mourn, so too we rejoice with those who rejoice this day. And hear us finally as we pray always for those nearest and dearest to this community of your people.
In the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ, we pray, Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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, and the Power,
and the Glory forever!
Praise God from whom all Blessings flow!
Praise God all creatures here below!
Praise God above you Heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked (Continued on next page)
OFFERING PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Let us pray...
Dear God, may these offerings be tokens of our generous thanksgiving for your countless gifts to us. Use them, and use us, we pray, to extend to all of your creation this generous giving and this grateful receiving, all in Christ’s name, Amen.
Open My Eyes, That I May See
SECOND SCRIPTURE LESSON
Luke 24: 13-35: “On the road to Emmaus”
A Rumor Settled
Let us pray...
“Be known to us in breaking bread, but do not then depart; O Savior, stay with us and spread your table in our heart.” Amen. (NCH, 342, 1)
For those two distraught disciples, trudging along that dirty road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, it began as nothing more than a rumor—simply hearsay—maybe idle chatter—perhaps only gossip. These two had not been at the tomb—only those women—the two Mary’s and Joanna—only they had seen the stone rolled away. As with the other disciples, for these two lonely, disappointed souls as well, this rumor, “these words,” “seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
If we are to understand the post-Easter experience for these two disciples and for ourselves as well, we must try to touch and to feel their emotions on that road to Emmaus.
In Jesus’ tragic death on the cross, all that they had believed in, all that they had trusted in, all that they had committed their lives to, had come crashing down! And in the very depth of their grief, they had only one thing left to hang onto—a rumor, spread earlier in the day by three women—something strange and peculiar and unbelievable about going to the tomb early in the morning and finding the body of Jesus gone. And these two talked and discussed together about all these things that had happened.
Their despair was great, about as great in fact, as the despair we contemporary disciples feel whenever our worlds come crashing in upon us, like for example, these days, as we try to navigate our way through this current health crisis. And even more examples abound. We who face life and death with a terminal disease—we who have lost jobs and seek frantically for new employment—we who experience a broken family situation that continues to deteriorate—we who have lost to death those whom we love most—at such times and on such roads, we too cling to what we might call the rumor of our faith.
And what do those two do? In the very moment of personal crisis, they leave Jerusalem for the seven-mile trek to Emmaus—seven miles from a situation that has become altogether intolerable. They were “getting away from it all:” rest, relaxation, a change of pace, a different environment, a brief vacation perhaps—in their case, maybe simply a return to the safety and security of their own home.
And we too do the same. At one time or other, each one of us has trudged along that road to Emmaus, that road away from it all, to some thing, to some place, to some one, safe and secure. And there’s nothing wrong
with getting away from some of the difficult events, from some of the Jerusalems in our lives. The only thing to remember is that we cannot get away from every thing—we cannot escape from life itself.
Whenever we are on the road to Emmaus or resting in the village itself, God often then makes himself known to us most clearly. Sometimes, although not always, once we are a few miles beyond the immediacy of the crisis, we can look back and see the guiding hand of God, even in the strangest events. Sometimes, although not always, God is able to work even in the midst of the worst of situations to redeem them and to make some good come from them. That's why these days, we talk about looking for the “silver linings” in these very dark clouds of pandemic. Sometimes, although not always, while we talk and discuss together our own disappointments and heartaches—indeed, the central rumors of our own lives—a stranger draws near, and walks with us, and strikes up a conversation. The only real danger, then as well as now, is that we may not recognize him when he is closest to us, perhaps even, as Mother Theresa once put it, when we meet Christ himself in the “distressing disguise” of the stranger.
And so, of course, it was for Cleopas and the other unnamed disciple. They walked toward Emmaus; a stranger joined them; but “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” They shared with him the rumor of the day—how some women amazed them by claiming they were at the tomb, and did not find the body, and saw a vision of angels who claimed he was alive.
As they finally reached the village, the stranger accepted the disciples’ hospitality and joined them at table. “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.” And in that all so simple and familiar act, “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.” At that very moment, the subject of their seven miles of talking and discussing was clarified—the rumor was settled! He was the Lord! He had risen from the tomb! Those women were right, after all! And immediately, their despair turned to joy; and they left the hard-won comfort and security of Emmaus to return to Jerusalem and to share their good news with the others—that good news that in the very midst of their despair, the stranger approached them. Jesus himself took the initiative in providing the needed companionship and the settling of the rumor. He only waited patiently for them to recognize him and respond to his gift of grace with their own confession of faith. “Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
My friends, in our own moments of despair, like perhaps these very days in which we’re living now, on our own roads to Emmaus, we shall do well to stop for a while and listen for a familiar voice, even if it is the voice of a stranger. To sense within us a touch we have felt before, to remember those times when God’s good news rang in our hearts, to recall those places where a faithful companion walked with us. Good Friday always comes before Easter Sunday morning. Doubt and despair, illness and death always come before faith and joy and new life.
Those disciples on the road to Emmaus learned that critically important lesson—no longer did they have to depend upon the testimony of others: their own eyes had been opened; they themselves recognized Jesus; and he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. “We have seen the Lord!” they must have shouted. For them, that rumor was settled!
My friends, in these challenging days in which we live, as we walk this post-Easter road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, whenever we again sit at the table of our Lord’s Supper and celebrate a familiar sacrament, may we try once more to recognize him, to hear his words, to feel his presence, to know him in the breaking of bread and the pouring of cup, and to do it all, before he vanishes out of our sight forever.
My friends, this very day, may this rumor, at least for us, be settled, once and for all!
Let us pray...
“Here, O our Lord, we see you face to face; here would we touch and handle things unseen; here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace, and all our weariness upon you lean.” Amen. (NCH, 336, 1, adapted)
Bread of the World in Mercy Broken
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
INVITATION TO THE TABLE
Luke the evangelist wrote of our risen Savior, who at the table with two of his disciples, took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread. My friends, in company with all believers in every time and beyond time, we come to the table of our Lord to know the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the cup.
UNISON COMMUNION PRAYER
Let us pray...
Resurrection God: pour out your Holy Spirit on gifts of bread and cup, that our eyes might be opened, that we might recognize you, and that we might be filled with your wisdom and truth. Amen.
UNISON PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Let us pray...
Gracious God: as you have blessed your gifts of bread and cup, now pour out your Holy Spirit on all of us, that we might be truly grateful, that we might proclaim to others what has happened on our own Emmaus roads, and that we might be your faithful disciples in the world. Amen.
God Be with You 'til We Meet Again
“Let us go in peace; let us freely give, sharing love with all the world daily as we live.” Amen. (NCH, 343, 4b)
GO NOW IN PEACE
Go now In peace, never be afraid.
God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now In faith, steadfast strong and true.
Know He will guide you in all you do.
Go now In love, and show you believe.
Reach out to others so all the world can see.
God will be there watching from above.
Go now in peace. in faith and in love.
Amen. Amen. AMEN.