Walking With Jesus

CALL TO WORSHIP: Lord, we love You because You listen to us.
You hear our voices when we cry for help.
We will call on You for as long as we live.

Let us think about the journey that we have just made to get here. Let us imagine walking out of our bed rooms and into our living rooms, switching on our phones, laptops, computers or I-pads. Let us remember arriving the living room walking in and sitting down. Let us pray.

Today Lord, we are thinking about two disciples who made a journey. As they walked, they were joined by Jesus, but did not realise who it was. When we walked into this room, we did not come into Your presence, for by Your Spirit, You are with us wherever we go.

We thank You that we are never alone. Help us now to fix our minds on You in a special way, so that we may hear Your word, be excited by it, and want to tell others the good news of all that You have done for us in Jesus.  In His name we pray.

Amen

HYMN 20: BE STILL FOR THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD-StF

PRAYER OF ADORATION

What can we offer the Lord for all that He has done for us?
R: We will praise His holy name.

We praise You Lord, because You made us and You love us. Our lives matter to You, and You care about what happens to us. What can we offer the Lord for all that He has done for us?
R: We will praise His holy name.

You have shown Your love for us in so many ways, but most of all through Jesus. He came to earth, lived and died, and rose again. He appeared to His disciples, bringing hope where they had been sad and despairing. What can we offer the Lord for all that He has done for us?
R: We will praise His holy name.

Because of what Jesus did, we can be free from the wrong things we do, and have a new start. By Your Spirit, we can have power to live in the right way. You have promised never to leave us, and You keep Your promises. You can always be trusted. What can we offer the Lord for all that He has done for us?
R: We will praise His holy name. Amen.

TALK FOR ALL: GETTING TO KNOW YOU (LUKE 24:13-35)
When you are introduced to someone, how do you decide if this is a person you would like to know better? You listen to what the new acquaintance tells you about herself or himself. You can also learn a lot about someone by noticing what they do – how they treat other people and what they choose to do with their time. Actions give us good information about the character of a person.

Another way to learn more about someone you haven’t known long is to listen to how other people describe him or her. Some famous people have books, called biographies, written about their lives.

The same ideas can be used to learn more about Jesus. Before Jesus ascended to heaven he talked with two disciples who were walking along the road, travelling to Emmaus. While he was with them “he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (24:27).

As we read the Bible, Jesus tells us who he is. We learn about the things he did while he was on earth; his good actions seen in the healings and miracles he performed. And we read how others describe him.

Much of the Bible is a biography of the life of Jesus. Even before he was born there are stories that describe his birth and the things he would do while he lived on earth.

As we study the Bible, Jesus is revealed to us more and more in much the same way he revealed himself to the two disciples travelling to Emmaus. We can get to know him better by reading his remarkable life story, thinking about what it means to us, and praying for guidance. AMEN.

CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING:
As we come to God with our confession, let us think about the two disciples, setting out from Jerusalem to walk to Emmaus. They have heard stories that Jesus is alive, but they cannot believe that it is true. They are still feeling sad.

Let us pray.

Loving Lord, We who know Jesus should be the happiest and most hopeful of people. We have a Saviour who is alive and who walks with us; and yet often we act as though we were all alone.

We forget that we have good news to tell, and instead allow our own troubles to fill our minds. Like those disciples, we are slow to listen to You, and slow to understand that You always keep Your promises. Forgive us Lord.

Help us to hear Him saying ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And help us to open our eyes, so that we may see that Jesus is with us all the time.

Thank you Lord for what You are doing in our families. Thank You for what You are doing in our churches and circuit. Thank You for giving us the opportunities in knowing that you are walking with us and our loved ones. Amen

READING: LUKE 13-35

HYMN 296: CHRIST HAS RISEN WHILE EARTH SLUMBERS-StF

SERMON: TRAVELS WITH JESUS
Luke 24:13-35

“The Walk to Emmaus” is one of the most familiar and beautiful stories in the New Testament. What starts as a stroll with a stranger ends with a miracle affirming the Resurrection. To fully appreciate this lesson, let’s first get our bearings. Emmaus was a village about 7 miles southeast of Jerusalem. It was the site of Judah Maccabee’s triumph over the oppressors of the Jewish people… just the kind of military victory many had hoped Jesus would deliver. Significantly, archaeologists today can’t even find the ruins of Emmaus. It has vanished without a trace. This historical footnote tells us that the destination was not really significant. Emmaus has not endured. Its glory has vanished. It is the journey with Jesus that really counts. It is Christ’s returning as an enduring presence in the lives of believers that is the punch line of the story.

The walk to Emmaus takes us in so many spiritually rich, rewarding directions. Let’s explore a few. Older members will remember their shock at the assassination of JFK. Many of us remember the horror of 9/11. Many of us still grieve for the loss of a close friend or family member. Wrap up all that grief with a complete crushing of your faith, your hopes and dreams. And you get some sense of the mood on the road to Emmaus. Despair, defeat, dejection weighed them down. The last thing they expected to see was the risen Jesus. And so they didn’t see him.

Jesus never wastes our time with trivia in the gospel. The fact that he went unrecognized is a very, very significant lesson that resonates down the centuries. It tells us that Jesus is journeying with us today, even when we don’t recognize him. It tells us that if we don’t look for him, we won’t see him. At the breaking of the bread, Jesus suddenly called an end to the disciples’ pity party. He woke them to hope. He revealed himself as the risen conqueror of sin and death.

The story illustrates both the divine power and the loving nature of Jesus. In this gospel, the gloriously risen Saviour does not intrude. He doesn’t come cart-wheeling down the road and knock the disciples off their feet. He modestly joins them in conversation. They set the pace on the road they have chosen. He listens. He wants to know what is important to them. He obviously cares. He did then. He does now. He wants to hear from you today. Bring him your troubles. Give voice to your fears and frustration. What matters to you, matters to him. No issue, no concern is off limits. As we have learned over and over, in Christ we may not always get the answer we want, but we always get the answer we need.

Could this gospel be any clearer? The risen Christ is with us always… all through the day, in everyone we meet. But too often, he goes unrecognized. That’s not God’s plan. We are meant to live in the risen Christ… continually, not spasmodically… actively, not abstractly.

Look around you. We are surrounded by cell phones, cable boxes, PCs, DVRs, remotes for everything. Most indicate their active status by a glowing red light. It tells us that the device is on. It’s active. It’s engaged. It’s ready to receive. Sometimes I wish our souls came with a little red light that tells us when it’s on, when we’re ready to receive. Jesus is in our midst constantly. He promises us: Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. He’s here now; but too often, like the travellers to Emmaus, we just don’t see him. Our red light is off. To see Jesus, to recognize him, we need to be engaged. It’s not a painful or even a particularly difficult task. But it does take practice. It takes a daily, conscious effort to connect with Christ and to stay connected throughout the day, looking for opportunities to share his love.

The formula for this is simple. It’s called prayer. Part of it is spoken. But most of it is lived. Welcome in your day with Jesus. Give him your concerns and anxieties. Share your joy with him. Ask him to help work out your resentments and to forgive your lapses. Unlike even the most advanced electronic devices, the more you are turned on to Jesus, the more you are spiritually recharged… and the brighter your light shines.

It is not enough that we are alert to Christ in our midst. It is not enough that we recognize him. It is not even enough that we look for Christ in others. We must show the world that the risen Christ lives in us, too. We must actively witness his love. Our lives must be clear proof of the Resurrection.

Significantly, the disciples recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For two-thousand years, the Eucharist has been our portal for communion with the risen Christ. In it we consume in microcosm the entire mystery of the redemption… the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. In it we are joined not in a metaphorical Body of Christ, but in a palpable presence. Jesus is with us. Jesus is in us.

What are we doing today to look for him, to see him, to recognize him… to welcome him? For many, these are the questions that define our lives. They are built reflexively into our day. For others they are unfamiliar, awkward and uncomfortable. But for all us there is one simple constant: Jesus is in our midst. What are we going to do about it? True to the Father and true to the promise he has made to us, we need only look for him. We need only engage. He is in our midst… in love, in peace, in power… only a prayer away.

I thank God for guiding me here to be with you today. As I look out on this circuit family, as we join in worship and fellowship, I am reminded that none of us could have made it this far without that guiding, loving presence who appeared on the road to Emmaus. Wherever each of our life’s roads may lead from here… through twists and turns, potholes and detours…Guide us home, Lord. Walk with us. Show us the way. Alleluia. He is risen.

HYMN 557: LET HIM TO WHOM WE NOW BELONG-StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION:

Once again, let us remember the two disciples, walking together from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they were travelling together, they met Jesus. Today we are going to pray for those who walk with us on our journeys. Let us pray.

Lord, we can sometimes think of our lives as being like journeys, in which different people walk alongside us. We think today, of those who are with us as we walk.

First of all, we think of family members, particularly those who share our home. If no family members live with us, we think about those who live away, and say their names inside our heads.

Lord, we ask You to bless the people that we have been thinking about. Show us how to behave thoughtfully towards them, remembering their feelings, and treating them as we would like to be treated. Lord, You walk alongside us. Show us how to be like You as we walk with others.

Now we think of people with whom we work; those who sit next to us in school; those who attend the same group or club as ourselves. Again, we say their names inside our heads.

Lord, we pray for the people whose names we have just mentioned. We may not find it easy to get along with some of them whilst others may be our best friends. Some of them may know that we go to church. Show us how to behave towards them so they may see that walking with Jesus makes a difference. Lord, You walk alongside us. Show us how to be like You as we walk with others.

Now we think of our neighbours; people who live next door to us or just across the way. Again, we say their names to God.

Lord, You know and love the people that we have just mentioned. Even if we have been thinking that we don’t know their names, You know all about them. Help us to get to know them better and show us how to love them as You do. Lord, You walk alongside us. Show us how to be like You as we walk with others.

Now, we think of those who used to travel with us, but who don’t any more. Maybe they have moved away, or maybe they have gone to be with God. We name them silently.

Lord, we thank You for all those who used to share our journey. We thank You especially for those who tried to be like Jesus and who are now with You in heaven.

Help us to be good travelling companions as they were. Lord, You walk alongside us. Show us how to be like You as we walk with others.  Amen

HYMN 94: TO GOD BE THE GLORY-StF

BLESSINGS