Archive for April, 2020

Luke 24:13-35 “Back in the Car”

Now on that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women in our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
In these sequestered times we have tried to make every necessary trip to the store count. We make lists and confirm with everyone that we have pre-identified what we will need so that we can get in, and out, and return home with the most efficiency and the least risk of contact. Wendy has a Lysol protocol going out and coming in, with hand washing and sometimes clothes changing based on the destinations we have been required to visit. We have washed more clothes and dishes and take more showers than typical. So it is good that we don’t go out any more often than we have gone.
Invariable, there have been times that go out and return with the full detoxification procedure complete and in the process of putting things away, we realize we have either forgotten something on the list or we find an essential something that was not on the list and we have to turn around and go back to the store. It’s not that exciting to go back to the store to get detergent or vacuum cleaner bags, because that means that after the return trip and re-entry procedures we have chores and cleaning that await.
But if the missed item(s) are chocolate chips for the cookies we planned to bake or butter that makes everything taste better, or you hear from a neighbor that the delivery truck just arrived with a shipment of toilet paper… We are racing with excitement and eagerness.
Think how much more Cleophus and his wife are ready to go back onto the road, at night, to tell the other disciples and followers that Jesus was alive! He has risen! Just as the others had said, and that he had been sitting, talking, teaching, and eating in their home, that they were filled with two powerful emotions: REGRET and JOY.
Holding two such powerful feelings at the same time calls for juggling. One instant they felt bad that they had not recognized Jesus. The next moment, they could see their faith and hope fulfilled. Both emotions will ignite our adrenal glands and endorphins which can make one dizzy and confused.
We have held conflicting emotions this past month. Thrilled to have family time to be in each other’s company and frazzled and frustrated for being so long in each other’s company. The Joy and the Sorrows in one bowl.
This story occurred on the day of resurrection. A day that many people were with Jesus but did not at first recognize him. The women at the tomb, Mary, Peter and John, Cleophus and his wife, all were present with Jesus but were focused on something else.
I know we have all know this feeling. Frances looking for her keys, Wendy her phone, or me and my iPad: these familiar items can be withing five feet of our person and yet we have lost sight of them. We search our past steps and typically return to find them covered or placed just out of sight from where were first recognized they were lost.
We may look at Easter in this way. It was just around the corner and yet we celebrated at home, without the typical traditions, the flowers now faded, the decorations packed away if they were unpacked in the first place. It has already been two weeks and we are eager to see what the new road to exiting our captivity will be like.
Think about our time at home, as Jonah found himself in the belly of the great fish. He too was confined against his will, separated from friends, family, and co-workers. His captivity was part of God’s saving grace. Our ongoing prayers go with those families who have lost loved ones to the virus and for those front-line workers who are bringing comfort and healing to the vast majority of those who have borne this calamity. We all face what the world will look like when we get spewed back on the shore.
If you look back and imagine that past 5-6 weeks, what have you been able to do, accomplish, or start that you most likely would not have done, completed or begun? If you and I only look back and say, “I thought about writing a book, starting a project, spending more time in prayer or study”, and yet we never used this time; When will you take off 5-6 weeks from work to address these goals and projects?
Some may have some touch of regret for just surviving at this time and not thriving. Other may have completed many tasks, projects, goal and begun many new projects and have a great sense of joy and pride. Some have been working steadily in essential positions and this time has been a double duty that has been anything but a break.
This passage from Cleophus and his wife comes as those who looked back on an opportunity missed and still found joy in having lived through it in the presence of Jesus Christ.
There are many things about Jesus, his teaching, his habits and lifestyle that are not recorded in the scriptures; we have questions we certainly hope to hear answers in heaven. So remember that what IS included in the scriptures is no accident nor mistake. Cleophus and his wife, unnamed, are pivotal characters who recognize Jesus even though they were blind to Jesus sitting at their own table. Look around the table, or think about the times you have been sitting around the table, talking and listening, to others; here is where you and I are most likely to hear about Jesus, about God, about the Holy Spirit, about the church, about scriptures. At the table. It was in the breaking of the bread that this ordinary couple recognized the extraordinary news and reality of Jesus, the risen savior.
Take the remaining time in our sheltering at home to begin or confirm the habits of gathering at the table to break bread with Christ and your family, and yourself. For when we return to the new normal we will have the opportunity to share Christ with the world more freely and intimately. But we will have all the worldly distractions to cloud our sight and distract our attention. Use the time that has been granted by this great distancing to be sitting down with Jesus, in scripture and song and help us recognize Jesus with us, without the distractions, in preparation for being spewed up on the shore.
• In this same hour, tell someone what Jesus is doing in your life and faith.
• In this same hour read about Christ’s work and witness among us.
• In this same hour, pick up the phone and share the Good News with someone alone or afraid.
• In this same hour, sing songs of praise and celebrate Jesus’s work in your heart.
• In this same hour, look and listen and know Jesus is with you, and share that joy with the world!
We have at least 2-3 weeks remaining as we begin to reintegrate and return to the new normal. I say NEW normal because we can emerge from this set-back far ahead in our faith if we seeking the moments with Jesus now. The road ahead will be filled with work, worry and fear, we best be finding ways to recognize Jesus now.

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Act 2:22-32 “It IS Possible”

Key: God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

* But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know- this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. [Act 2:22-32]

Freed and Flipped

The particular news of Easter is not only that he is risen, but that he was freed from the power of death

  • He was freed from the limitation that death marks.
  • He not only is risen himself, but grants, and gives us the benefits of his resurrection. 

Peter: Tell of King David, beloved like, Terry Flemming, retelling that even he, as beloved as he was did not have the power to raise from the dead, nor to offer that to others.

  • David did have faith that God was with, 
  • We live with the knowledge and affirmation of Jesus, David only lived in hope that Jesus would come and deliver us.

David’s response of knowing God would provide as way was three fold:

  1. I will glad instead of afraid
  2. I will tell the world about God’s faithfulness
  3. I will live in hope that my soul out lives my body through the coming messiah.

David become a terrific example as one who has faith, but has not seen. (as Jesus instructed his disciples after the resurrection) 

We live in the fruitfulness of knowing both the promises fulfilled and the witness of the Resurrection. 

As we look around at the powerful work of winds, rain and storms and see the destruction and loss of life. This is not our end. There is more to life than propter, and even more than our flesh and bones.

As we look around the world and hear of great numbers of people suffering and dying, we know that our bodies suffer and our earthly tents will perish, but we have a greater hope and faith.

You and I, and all those who call on Jesus as Christ and Lord, know the faithfulness of that we are more than material wealth, more than Good works and deeds. We, even though we are sinful, doubting, selfish, and sometimes down right mean, God loves us enough to make what IS impossible for everyone else, possible for us, through Jesus death and resurrection. 

This is why Easter is not one Sunday, but the message of every Sunday. 

So what do we do with the Gift of a Resurrected Live, An Eternal life?

Peter wants us to learn from David:

  1. Don’t live being afraid. Fear can be a powerful driving force, but there is a greater force: Love. God loves us so much that he gives HIMSELF for us, NO greater gift or power is there but the someone lays down their life for one who is stranger, enemy, rebellious, distrusting, or doubting… God does this so that we will believe, trust and also love.

Don’t live in fear or by fear. Living trusting God in all things.I will tell the world about God’s faithfulness

2. I will live in hope that my soul out lives my body through the coming messiah.

The second thing after trust God is to live in HOPE. We don’t live having already been raised from the dead. We will all be confronted with death, but live knowing that is not our end. There is not our final destination, rather a necesary stop along the way that God has for demarking our journey.

Instead of being fearful, be dedicated to living in hope. Confirm that things are not right, or ripe yet, BUT hope keeps our eye on the fruit that will be coming in God’s season.

3. Tell the World about God’s faithfulness.

The greatest criticisms of the church today can be found in this one instruction.

  1. Either the world says we are hypocritical and don’t practice what we preach or
  2. They say we don’t trust what we believe and see no reason, based on our lack of hope and faithfulness we give witness.

Don’t be afraid, Live by Hope and TELL of God’s faithfulness.

It has never been about our faithfulness that God is praised. It is God’s faithfulness, revealed in the Easter Resurrection that proves God’s love for us and this is the GREAT NEWS that we are call to share.

When you hear words of fear come out of your mouth of the mouth of others:

Ask what is God’s promise regaurding such?

When we speak words of doubt, selfiishness, greed, anger, or division..

Ask What does Easter tell us about God’s love for us and our enemies?

Every conversation and every thought become an opportunity to flipped words of fear and hurt into a reminder of God’s love and grace

Every effort to praise and share the Good News is a witness of God’s victory in our lives together in God’s glory.

Get’s to telling the world what Easter means… not about the bunny or a single Sunday, but about the whole story for our whole purpose.. Jesus is Risen so that we

  • Have nothing to fear
  • Have assurance of God’s love and power
  • HAve Good News to share of God’s work in a broken, hurting and selfish world.

He lives indeed, He lives for you and me, and for all who will trust, receive and tell.

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