We are all disciples on a journey toward Christ

Written by Joel on May 20th, 2011

May 8, 2011
Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:13-35

Did any of you miss Easter? How about the Sunday after Easter? We if so, today, this Sunday is for you. When I asked if you missed Easter, I imagine many of you thought in terms of church, asking yourself “Was I at County Line on Easter Sunday?” In that case you may have answered “yes, I did miss Easter” if you were visiting family out of town, or maybe if you were sick. Of course, if you were physically present for worship during our Easter season so far you may have been inclined to answer “No, of course I didn’t miss Easter – I was right here in church.” …Did you miss Easter? Isn’t it interesting how closely we have connected the event of Easter with our Sunday worship. We gather together and hear the word proclaimed and discover that he is risen (he is risen indeed), and so were there, we were there for Easter we didn’t miss a thing. But if we contemplate upon it in a historical sense: “Did you miss Easter?” well that might change our answer. No we weren’t there to examine the empty tomb, no we weren’t there to hear the Good News proclaimed from the angel, nor the women, nor the disciples. No we weren’t there when Jesus appeared before his disciples with the marks in his hands and feet, nor where we there a week later when Christ appeared again to Thomas…we we remembered in our Gospel reading last Sunday. Historically, literally, we weren’t there. We missed Easter. We missed Easter even more than Thomas, we are the ones who are called to be blessed to believe without seeing.

We read about two disciples in our Gospel this morning. Two disciples who missed Easter. For whatever reason were leaving Jerusalem, that Easter evening, after Jesus had been raised from the dead. These two disciples seemed to have at least heard the rumor that Christ was risen – they speak of hearing the report from the women. But they did not believe, they missed Easter so they decided to move on to Emmaus. A stranger asks to join them along the way; it is safer to travel in groups when you have to walk. These two disciples continued to be so caught up in their grief that they could not even recognize that Christ had joined them along the way. Along the way Jesus begins to talk with these two disciples, he pleads with them to tell the story about what happened, he pauses to read scripture with them, he takes time to interpret scripture – finding Christ through the word of God; and then he broke bread at table with them. …Sound familiar?

It sounds to me an awful lot like a worship service to me. They tell their faith (Creed), they read scripture beginning with Moses and the prophets (We read scripture), Jesus interpreted scripture (I hope to share with you God’s word, and what it might mean for us in our day…we interpret scripture), and finally Jesus broke bread (and we will break bread at this table). For these two disciples who missed Easter, Christ showed them how to worship as a way to tell the gospel story. You see, the purpose of worship is for us to tell and tell again the good news of our salvation. Our worship is modeled from this scripture because, I believe that we encounter Christ when we tell the good news; we encounter Christ in church! Worship is a telling and living of the gospel.

We begin with the Apostles creed.

The disciples knew what had happened, and they did not want to talk about it because the pain it caused them. Do you hear how they are trying to avoid the subject? Jesus even asks, just about as straight forwardly as you could “What are you talking about?” And the disciples deflect: “You must be the only stranger who doesn’t know.” But seriously can you blame them? Someone once said “If you want to make people feel uncomfortable – talk about Jesus.” Have any of you had someone come up to you and ask “What do you believe about Jesus?” Wow…what would you tell them? Even I might be caught off guard by such a question (by the way, I don’t think this happens to pastors any more than it happens to you’all). But I think I might start with the creed. That is what it is there for – an aid to help us explain the faith. Did you hear the disciples’ response when Jesus pushed them to speak? Verse 19b “The things which happened to Jesus, a prophet…” Not too bad for disciples who missed Easter.

Christ did not leave them without the Good News. He read scripture to them “beginning with Moses and the prophets;” he interpreted to them about what referred to the Christ. And so we continue in that tradition. We are a New Testament, Gospel church but we don’t abandon the old testament because it is the word of God and includes the history of our salvation. We also read from Moses and the Prophets. Christ interprets scripture for them but still they cannot quite see. It is not until the breaking of the bread that their eyes are opened. He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

And so we celebrate holy communion. Though we are Christians who missed Easter, we do not miss Christ at this table, because worship is the living of the gospel message, a journey on the road to Christ. He gave us this gift that we may recall his ultimate sacrifice on the night he was betrayed when he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. Christians have celebrated this feast throughout the centuries because in it we most fully see Christ in our midst.

It’s kind of like going to Grandma’s house. My grandmother, on every visit I can remember without fail would also bake cupcakes for us. They were vanilla, with a cream icing. Half had red-dusted sprinkles, and the other half green-dusted sprinkles. I’m told they started as a Christmas tradition, and they were so well liked that she just made them that way all the time. My dad was a pre-planner and we always knew at least a few days ahead of time that we were heading to grandmas house, and it it was a solid 30 minute drive. As a kid I knew I was heading there, and I knew where we were going during the whole trip, but it was not until I walked through that door to smell the fresh baking and to sit down and taste that creamy cupcake that I knew I had truly made it to grandmas.

Christians continue to celebrate Holy Communion, and we continue to celebrate in the season of Easter that Christ is alive and in our midst. We are disciples on a journey, and we journey today to the table of our lord to come, to taste, and to see.


 

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