|Day of Pentecost, Year C||May 19, 2013||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-17, (25-27))|
|Seventh Sunday after Easter, Year C||May 12, 2013||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Luke 24:44-53; John 17:20-26, Acts 16:16-34|
|Six Sunday after Easter, Year C||May 5, 2013||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5, John 5:1-9|
|Fifth Sunday after Easter, Year C||April 28, 2013||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35|
|Fourth Sunday after Easter, Year C||April 21, 2013||Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year C||Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30|
|Third Sunday after Easter, Year C||April 14, 2013||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21: 1-19|
|➤Second Sunday after Easter, Year C||April 7, 2013||Second Sunday after Easter, Year C||Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013||March 31, 2013||Easter Day, Year C||Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24I Corinthians 15:19-26, Luke 24:1-12|
|Good Friday, March 29, 2013||March 29, 2013||Good Friday, Year C||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2013||March 28, 2013||Maundy Thursday, Year C||Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1,10-17, I Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2013||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2013||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Joshua 5:9-12, Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 3, 2013||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Exodus 3:1-15, Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 24, 2013||Philippians 3:17-4:1||Sermon, Second Sunday in Lent, Year C|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 17, 2013||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Luke 4:1-13|
Second Sunday after Easter, Year C
Sermon Date:April 7, 2013
Scripture: Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, Luke 24:13-35
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after Easter, Year C
The great book of Revelation opens with this vision.
“Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth shall wail. So it is to be. Amen.
The psalmist has a vision of the Almighty God, God dwelling in a holy temple, full of excellent greatness and power. As a result of this vision of God, the psalmist praises God. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Hallelujah!
In the book of Acts, Peter and the apostles, already persecuted for teaching in the name of Jesus, have a vision of their risen Lord at the right hand of God—“God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” As a result of their vision, the apostles witness on behalf of God in spite of the fact that their lives will be in danger if they continue this witness.
And Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus as he took, blessed, and broke bread and gave it to them. “Their eyes were opened,and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.” They go back to Jerusalem that very night, retracing their steps, in order to share with the other disciples their vision of the risen Christ.
Visions—tantalizing glimpses of God, the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty,”—these visions crowd our lectionary readings today and during this Easter season.
So I have a question for you.
What is your vision of God?
As I try to answer that question for myself, I find the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus enlightening because of the way it unfolds, revealing a sequence of events which lead Cleopas and his companion into a new understanding/a new vision of God.
As these two walk over the rounded cobblestones of the well built Roman road, moving over for carts and the occasional chariot that clatters by, mingling with and jostled by other pedestrians, Luke tells us that Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
What kept the disciples and what keeps us from recognizing God with us? From being able to see God coming near and going along with us as we journey through our days?
Cleopas had his story of God all figured out—he thought he had all the answers about who Jesus was, and he tells this man who is walking along with them that Jesus was a prophet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people—that he was condemned to death and was crucified—so how could this dead man be the one that they they had hoped for after all, the one who was to redeem Israel?
Cleopas has heard the report of the women who went to the tomb and had a vision of angels who told the women that Jesus was alive. So some went to the tomb, and found it as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.
Cleopas is stuck at this point. His vision of a prophet mighty in word and deed who was to redeem Israel is not broad enough to include the idea that God could have possibly raised Jesus from the dead.
Luke tells us that Jesus spent the next part of the journey interpreting to them the things about himself in all of the scriptures.
And then they reached Emmaus and urged Jesus to stay with them since the day was nearly over, and so Jesus went in to stay with them. And in a moment immortalized by Rembrandt and many other artists, as Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave the bread to them, Luke tells us that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”
Their vision of who Jesus was had just shifted and become larger. Cleopas and his companion realized the man who had shared their journey with them was indeed their risen Lord.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Luke’s story reminds us of the value of being immersed in scripture, because that immersion in scripture can bring the risen Lord to life in our own lives, and enlarge our visions of God, to make them more complete.
Spending time with scripture each day, praying before you start that you might find God present with you in your reading and reflection is a discipline that can lead to a deeper understanding and a broader vision of God.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Back in the fall, one of the prisoners at Peumansend Creek Regional Jail asked me for a way to read through the Bible, so I shared the Bible Challenge plan with him—reading three chapters of the Bible every day, plus a psalm or two.
A few months later, this same prisoner told me how much he appreciated this system of reading the Bible—that he sat down every day, and got into the Word, and then he said, he’d find the Holy Spirit present with him, filling him up. By spending time immersed in and reflecting on scripture, this man found that the risen Lord was present with him right in the middle of a crowded jail cell.
Luke’s story also reminds us of the power of inviting and welcoming the Lord to be part of our daily activities. At home Ben and I begin every meal with the Moravian prayer that starts like this. “Come Lord Jesus, our guest to be.” How would your conversation around the dinner table change, and how would your vision of God grow if you intentionally invited God into this time of sharing food with one another during the day?
Our communion hymn today begins much like the prayer Ben and I use at home—
“Come risen Lord, and deign to be our guest.”
Our risen Lord is in our midst every time we take and bless and break and share the bread that is his body and drink the wine that is his blood. And not only do we find our risen Lord in the bread and wine, but God is with us in the love with which we embrace one another, the care that we give for one another, in the stories we share with one another. When we gather to eat this bread and drink this wine, we create the space within ourselves and within our community to grow into to a larger, more expansive vision of this God of love who freely gives each one of us new and unending life in him.
Luke also reminds us of the importance of reflection. The two disciples already had everything they needed to make sense of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and even his resurrection, but they had not had time to reflect on the events that had taken place in light of what they knew from scripture and what Jesus himself had told them about himself during his ministry in Galilee. Without reflection, the disciples had missed an opportunity to enlarge their vision of God.
On our mission trip to Staten Island this past summer, we all saw how powerful the art of reflection can be. At the end of each one of our busy days, Wendy Gayle spent time reflecting on the day, and then she wrote a poem based on the events of the day—and these poems helped the rest of us to reflect and to see that the risen Christ had indeed been present with us as we did the work of the clothing distribution. Here’s Wendy’s poem about our hands.
God’s endless love.
We leave fingerprints
On whatever we touch
Mingling with those of many
Who come after us in His name.
By sharing this love we create
A sacred space in our hearts for Jesus.
This reflection helped us all to see that we weren’t simply handing out clothes, but that we were also pouring out God’s endless love, that we are disciples in a long line of disciples to come who will share God’s love with the world.
Cleopas and his companion saw Jesus take the bread with his hands and bless it and break it and offer it to them—and in that moment, as he offered the bread and his endless love to them, their eyes were opened, and they saw for themselves the one who loved them and freed them from their sins, they saw their Leader and their Savior, full of excellent greatness and power. They saw before their eyes the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord God who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
That same hour they returned to Jerusalem and found the others and then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
What is your vision of God?
How will your vision grow and change during this Easter season?
And who will you go and tell?