Third Sunday of Easter

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Feeding of the 5000 July 31, 2011 Proper 13, Year A Matthew 14:13-21
Third Sunday after Pentecost July 3, 2011 Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9, Year A Zechariah 9:9-12; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 8 June 26, 2011 Second Sunday after Pentecost Romans 6:12-23; Psalm 89: 1-4, 15-18
First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday June 19, 2011 First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
The Day of Pentecost June 12, 2011 Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23
7th Sunday of Easter -Ascension June 5, 2011 Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A Acts 1:6-14; I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11
Sixth Sunday After Easter May 29, 2011 Sixth Sunday after Easter, Year A Acts 17:22-31; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14: 15-21
Fifth Week in Easter May 22, 2011 5th Sunday in Easter Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; I Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
Fourth Sunday in Easter May 15, 2011 Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year A John 10:1-10
Third Sunday of Easter May 8, 2011 Third Sunday of Easter, Year A Luke 24:13-35; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23
Second Sunday in Easter, Year A May 1, 2011 Second Sunday of Easter, Year A Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday April 24, 2011 Easter Day, 2011 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; John 20:1-18
Good Friday April 22, 2011 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011 April 21, 2011 Maundy Thursday 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011 April 17, 2011 Palm Sunday Mathew 27


Third Sunday of Easter

Sermon Date:May 8, 2011

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35; Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23

Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday of Easter, Year A

Rumors were flying!

Have you heard the news?  What have you heard?  Tell me everything!  Really!  I heard it this way—how exactly do you think it happened?  Here’s what I think!   Come on, let’s go see what our friends down the street have heard—and on and on and on. 

Something big happens!  Everyone starts talking.  Cell phones ring, texts fly through cyberspace, tweets come fast and furious, people turn on their TV’s, the radio, the internet—what’s the latest? 

And we add our own voices to the mix, calling our friends—“Have you heard?”  posting Face Book status updates,  talking, texting, tweeting, opining….

Then we start solidifying  our own particular version of the story, to make up our minds about what REALLY happened, even if we don’t know, and what we decide tends to become THE TRUTH—even though we don’t have all the facts, or we’ve misunderstood the facts.    

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus found themselves in just such a situation.  Jerusalem was awash in controversial conversation about what had just happened there.  Everyone was talking about Jesus—his capture, his death, and now the bizarre reports of a missing body, angels at the tomb who said that he was alive.   These two just had to get away, head for some peace and quiet.  And yet, as they walked down the road, away from Jerusalem, they couldn’t stop talking about it—discussing every last detail over and over again, talking about what they knew, and puzzling over the latest mystifying information from the women who had gone to the tomb.  They just didn’t have the facts about that….

And then, a dream come true!  Someone who hasn’t heard the story!    We get to tell it all again, down to the very last detail, and to see what the stranger thinks about that mysterious report of the women…. 

And so Cleopas and his friend tell this stranger what they know.  And they think they have three facts straight. 

First of all, they think they know who Jesus was now that all this has happened.   Jesus was certainly a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. 

Second, he was framed by people in power.

Third, he was crucified.

Therefore, the fact is that he could not be the Messiah that they were expecting , the one who was to redeem Israel. 

But the latest report calls this neat summary into question. 

…..some women in our group went to the tomb and found it empty, and they came back and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was ALIVE. 

But the others went to see for themselves, and sure enough, the tomb was empty, just as the women had said, but the men didn’t see Jesus….they didn’t see the physical proof they were looking for. 

How timely this story is for us!

We, who are constantly drowning in a sea of information, deafened by the constant noise of people talking, talking, talking about the events of our day!   Facts that turn out not to be facts, seeking truth about events shrouded in mystery….

Like the people in long ago Jerusalem, we want every detail, we want all the information, we want the evidence—as Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, all we have are the facts, ma’am—and we want all the facts.

We leap to conclusions. 

We could sum up the stranger’s response to the story of these two disciples in four words.


He rebukes them—O how foolish you are, and how slow of heart. 

SHUT UP AND LISTEN!!!!!!!   Get your facts straight. 

And then this stranger takes the scripture, the words that they have overlooked, in their frantic scrambling for the facts.  He goes all the way back to the beginning, all the way back to Moses,  through the prophets. 

All the facts are right there in the scripture they have had in front of them all the time. 

Now, we are the disciples.  The only people Jesus has in this world to share the facts with the world  about who he is…

So this story is of the utmost importance to us, because it tells us HOW to be those disciples. 

First of all, SHUT UP AND LISTEN!  Get your facts straight.   

Who are we to listen to?  All of the fifty bazillion competing  voices that course through our days like the tornadoes that hit Alabama, the water flooding over the banks of the Mississippi? 

No—as Christians, we are to turn to the scripture.  All the facts we need are within the covers of this book.

But this story tells us something very important about HOW we read this book and understand it. 

We tend to pick and choose from the Bible, just as we do from the news, from conversations—we pick and choose what WE want to hear, the news that validates the particular story we want to believe.   

You know as well as I do that the words in this book have been used to justify actions that go directly against the Good News—mass murder in his name—an example that we all know about—the waves of Crusades that swept like a river of death through the Holy Land over and over and over,  a blood red river staining the very soil that Jesus, the man we call the Prince of Peace,  walked on in his time on earth. 

So it’s important to observe how Jesus uses the scripture.  He goes back to the beginning—he explains the whole story—not the bits and pieces –but the whole story of Moses and all the prophets—the whole story, not of God’s wrath and violence, but the story of God’s love—God’s love for the whole creation, for all that God has created.  The story of God’s love that culminates in this one event that we are too foolish and slow of heart to believe—that God has raised Jesus from the dead.  Jesus reminds us that the whole great story of salvation has to be seen through this one event—the resurrection–

the resurrection of our Messiah, the suffering servant, the Prince of Peace, the one who is described in the great book of Revelation as the Lamb, who stands as if it had been slaughtered, who shares the throne of God,

our God,  willing to die out of love for the whole world,  rather than to become just one more Messiah in a long list of power wielding Messiahs who have won their places through the use of violence.

In the New Testament, Jesus sums up in his own words the meaning of his physical presence with us, his death, and his resurrection–

“God so loves  us that he sent his only son so that those who believe can have eternal life”—and listen to the next thing Jesus says—

John 3:17-21 you can read it for yourself—

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him… and those who do what is true come to the light…”

The light—

We know the rest of today’s gospel story. 

How the day grew late, and as the sun set, as the world began to settle back into darkness, and all grew quiet, and the stranger walked ahead,  they invited him to stay with them.

The two disciples and the stranger entered the house that had grown dark now that the sun set, and the host, taking a small oil lamp from a shelf on the wall, led them to a table in the corner and set the lamp down.

And they sat in the shadows, quiet now, enjoying the smell of bread cooking over a fire out back, resting their feet after their journey.  The host came, and placed a basket of bread in the center of the circle of the small circle of  light cast by the oil lamp, and the two disciples saw the stranger’s hands reach out of the darkness into that light, take the bread.  They heard him bless it, the light flickered along the edges of the bread as he broke it, and as they reached out for that bread, they recognized him.

And he vanished from their sight.

It was as if the small pool of light which drove back the shadows, the light that had allowed them to see him take and bless and break the bread—it was as if they had swallowed that light—

They could feel it coursing through them—light burning, burning inside them like a raging fire!”

“Were not our hearts burning within us when we were listening to him on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”

Finally, the disciples had their facts straight. 

And Luke tells us that at that same hour they returned to Jerusalem, and found the disciples and their companions gathered together.

And before these two could even open their mouths, they heard this news.

“The Lord is Risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”

And then the two disciples told what had happened on the road, and how he had been make known to them in the breaking of the bread.

How the light had shone in the darkness.

The others could see their burning hearts. 

And from the early church, we learn what comes next—the evidence that proves that the fact of the resurrection is true.

When we hear this story, if we really hear it, then we find that we are, like those who heard Peter preach in the streets of Jerusalem not long after this—the fact is that we are cut to the heart and the evidence is that we want to repent, repent of all that we have done to contribute to the hatred and unhappiness that swirls around us. 

And as the early Christians read in the letter from Peter—

When we repent of our own misperceptions and live into the fact of the resurrection, when we invite Jesus in to stay with us and to give us the facts, 

The evidence is that we live focused on God, trusting God because our faith and hope are set on God. 

We know the same fact that the early Christians knew

We have been born anew—And the evidence for this fact is one thing–

The evidence of love-

genuine mutual love, the love that we share, the love we have for one another that comes deeply from our hearts

The evidence of genuine mutual love that we have for one another  made possible by the fact of   God’s love raised up for us in the resurrection of a broken body. 

The evidence of the genuine mutual love that we have for one another made possible  by the fact of  Jesus’ love for us, Jesus at our table, in our midst,  here and now. 

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