3rd Sunday of Easter

                                       

The Eucharist

The Gathering
In the name of the Father, †
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 
The Greeting
Alleluia.  Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.
 
Prayers of Penitence
Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed for us.
Let us therefore rejoice by putting away all malice and evil
and confessing our sins with a sincere and true heart. 
 
The Confession
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.  Amen.

 
The president pronounces the Absolution,
Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon † and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
 
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world: 
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
 
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.
 
The Collect
 
New Testament Reading
At the end of each the reader may say:
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
 
Gospel Reading
Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the first and the last, says the Lord, and the living one;
I was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.  Alleluia.                             
then as the Gospel is announced the reader says: 
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
Glory to you, O Lord.
The Gospel Reading concludes with:
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
 
Affirmation of Faith
Let us declare our faith
in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he was buried;

he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen. 
   
 
Prayers of Intercession
 
The Peace
The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said,
‘Peace be with you.’  Then were they glad when they saw the Lord.  Alleluia. 
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
 
Offertory Prayer
Be present, be present,
Lord Jesus Christ,
our risen high priest,
make yourself known in the breaking of bread.  Amen.
 
The Eucharistic Prayer (Prayer B)
The Lord be with you.
and also with you.                     
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
 
It is indeed right, our duty and our joy,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
almighty and eternal Father,
and in these days of Easter
to celebrate with joyful hearts
the memory of your wonderful works.
For by the mystery of his passion
Jesus Christ, your risen Son,
has conquered the powers of death and hell
and restored in men and women the image of your glory.
He has placed them once more in paradise
and opened to them the gate of life eternal.
And so, in the joy of this Passover,
earth and heaven resound with gladness,
while angels and archangels and the powers of all creation
sing for ever the hymn of your glory:
 
Therefore with angels and archangels,
and with all the company of heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
for ever praising you and saying:
 
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

 
Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit,
and according to your holy will,
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;
 
who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
 
In the same way, after supper
he took the cup and gave you thanks;
he gave it to them, saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.
 
Praise to you, Lord Jesus:
Dying you destroyed our death,
rising you restored our life:
Lord Jesus, come in glory.

 
And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins of the whole world;
rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension,
and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.

As we offer you this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,
we bring before you this bread and this cup
and we thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.
 
Send the Holy Spirit on your people
and gather into one in your kingdom
all who share this one bread and one cup,
so that we, in the company of all the saints,
may praise and glorify you for ever,
through Jesus Christ our Lord;
by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.  Amen.
 
Breaking of the Bread
 
The Agnus Dei
Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

 
Giving of Communion
Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia.
 
Prayer after Communion
 
Blessing
Alleluia.  Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.
The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

Go in the peace of Christ.  Alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Intercessions by Liz Pullen


In joy and hope, let us pray to the Father:
That at this time of isolation away from our congregations and church buildings, all may find solace in coming to know the risen Saviour more fully in the silence through prayer and listening to his voice, and that others may come to know him through the wonders of modern technology.
God of life:     Hear our prayer.

That those who have taken on the responsibilities of government in all nations, may make their decisions with regard for the future of their countries, the sustainability of the earth and the needs and rights of all people. Give them the humility to work together and the wisdom to make the best decisions in the face of the complex problems of today’s society.
God of life:    Hear our prayer.

That those who are working in hospitals and care homes may know the support of your living presence as they strive to dedicate themselves to the vulnerable people in their care. We give thanks for their devotion to their calling despite the danger to themselves. We also give thanks for those others who remain at their work to keep this nation running, and the thousands of volunteers who have responded to the needs of others.  God of life:     Hear our prayer.

That our risen Saviour may reveal himself to those who are ill at this time including Peter, Emilia, Joanna, Anne Rogers, Andrea Linsell, Caroline Wareham, Sam, David, Sonya, Harriet, Katie Johns and those known only to himself, giving them comfort and a knowledge of his healing presence and love.
God of life:  Hear our prayer 

That all those who are anxious about their loved ones or have known the anguish of not being able to say goodbye; those whose life is saddened by injury or the death of a relative or friend, may be comforted and supported in their loneliness. We pray particularly at this time for the Hepburn family following the death of Brian. Be with them, take away anger and bitterness, and give them faith to look beyond their present trouble to you, the one who died and rose again, and lives for evermore. In the Year’s Mind we remember Paul Kenwood, Margery Millar and Gordon Law, strengthened by the sure knowledge of their resurrection on the last day.
God of life:  Hear our prayer
 
Finally, a prayer for our community and for ourselves:
We are not people of fear;
We are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
We are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
We are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
Giving and loving,
Wherever we are,
Whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
Wherever you call us.

Barbara Glasson: President of the Methodist Conference.

                                                            

What follows is a meditation based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (died 1524) whereby we are called to use our imagination as a way of entering into the story of Jesus.  As we do this we often discover a new depth to prayer or valuable insights that nourish faith.  So find a quiet space and read what follows,  As you mull over the story on the way to Emmaus, you may find yourself walking alongside Jesus himself as he leads us into a new, more authentic way of being and living.  Enjoy!

Meeting the Risen Christ (Luke 24:13-35)

Ignatian Meditation Process: Ignatius chose this Gospel reading for Week 4 of The Spiritual Exercises.  Read the introduction and then “Ask for the grace”.  Then quietly read the passage by using your imagination to enter into the story, sensing and feeling what’s going on.  Don’t analyze the passage or seek insights — experience yourself as a character in the story.  After the second reading have a “colloquy” (short, personal conversation) with the Lord.  You can use the prompts and questions at the bottom to guide your prayer time.
 
Introduction: It’s the Sunday after Jesus was crucified.  Cleopas and another disciple have left Jerusalem very discouraged and are walking home on the road to Emmaus.  (It’s usually assumed the other disciple is a man, but it could be Cleopas’ wife.)  A stranger comes up and engages them in conversation on prophecies about Christ.  Later they realise it’s Jesus!  Their hearts are burning with love for their Master!
 
Ask For Grace:  Dear Father, I ask for the grace I desire: to be glad and to rejoice intensely because of the great glory and joy of Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Imagine Yourself in the Gospel: Luke 24
 
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 of 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.
 
 
After the 1st Reading:  Visualize yourself in the Gospel story.  Don’t seek intellectual insights — stay with the imagery.  Use your senses to see, touch, feel, and hear.  What is it that you see, sense, or feel?   What part of the story are you drawn to?  Which character do you identify with or are you a bystander?
 
2nd Reading: Then re-read the passage:  Experience the story in the role of the character God led you to.  Then talk with the Lord.  What do you feel?  How does this relate to something in your life today?  What is God saying to you?

 

Emmaus Sermon

Third Sunday of Easter
 
May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.
 
This account of the encounter between Jesus and two of his followers on the way to Emmaus has long been a puzzle and more than a little embarrassing.  Can you imagine how two of Jesus' own close friends could have failed to recognised their beloved friend?  How could they not have known it was him?  And why did Mary Magdalene not recognise him as well?  Scholars tell us that if something in the biblical story is embarrassing or unflattering to the main characters, that it is very likely true.  That the dissonance was included because it happened that way and no one dared to leave it out of the whole.  Like Jesus cursing the fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season.  It doesn't make Jesus look good, but it must have meant something at the time, though no one now quite understands exactly what he meant.
 
So Jesus went walking along with two of his friends and they did not recognise him.  The sceptics tell us that this means that none of this resurrection business could possibly be true.  The disciples were just grief stricken and psychologically susceptible to have hallucinations, to see things that weren't really there.  A lot hangs on the Emmaus experience and it has much to say about the Christian life as well as the coming resurrection of ourselves.
 
I never could get a handle on the why of not knowing Jesus.  His charisma and sense of presence must have made itself felt.  The pre-death Jesus was like that, he stood out from the crowd and people noticed.  Why couldn’t Cleopas and Co. see what was underneath their very noses?  Was this a case of deception or disguise, or did it go deeper?  I have come to appreciate the mystery and see a way through it thanks to personal experience many years ago. 
 
In 1988, long before I ever thought of leaving America, I went to work in a rather posh restaurant.  The couple who ran the place were only slightly older than myself, and we became close friends almost straightaway.   She was one of those beautiful Southern girls full of magnetic charm, he was a fish out of water, a Jewish New Yorker trying to adapt to life in the South.  Two years later they had their first child, Daniel.  His father rang me from the hospital with the good news just after the grandparents were told.  Daniel has been a part of my life ever since.
 
His parents divorced acrimoniously when his mother met someone else, Daniel was two and a half.  I was the only friend who managed not to choose between one or the other, even living with them both in turn.  Somehow we became a rather unusual family, we called it co-parenting.  I have changed more nappies than I care to remember, coped with illnesses, nightmares, and a fidgety child invading our bed.  We agreed that Daniel would be brought up as a Jew as his mother no longer counted herself a Christian.  I attended synagogue and presided at the table for Shabbat.  I had a say in where he went to school and turned up for parents' evenings and PTA meetings.  Daniel is, in some way, my son.
 
After he was twelve I was home only three times in the intervening three years before my niece was born.  Twice Daniel was away, either with grandparents in New Hampshire or on a tennis tournament playing for his school.  I flew home to meet my baby niece and then drove up to see Daniel’s parents.  His mother and I went for a much-needed drink.  She has a long memory and loves to bring up the past, never quite forgiving me for not taking her side.  Out of the blue she had an idea. She wanted to take me with her to pick Daniel up from tennis practice, so that we could surprise him.  And so we drove across town to the high school. 
 
As we made our way to the athletics department, I was gutted because I did not recognise the young man who approached us.  He was not what I expected.  I fixed a smile on my face hoping he wouldn’t notice my unease, but a little part of me died as it dawned on me how much time had passed and how much I had missed.  Of course I knew he would have grown up and changed, but what I knew in my mind didn't tally with the picture I carried in my heart.  Had I seen him in the street I would have passed him by without a second thought. 
 
The disciples weren't expecting to see Jesus.  And the one who walked with them had passed through death into new, unending life.  The body that had been beaten and broken on the cross, was now glorified, a sign of the difference between this everyday life and that which is to come.  They only recognised him in the breaking of the bread, the action at the Last Supper now made real the saving action of his death and resurrection.  In normal times we share the experience of his friends at Emmaus.  We don't simply re-enact the Last Supper, we don't act out a moment from ancient history.  We stand as they did at the foot of the cross, at the empty tomb, and rejoice that Christ makes himself present among us in bread and wine, as he draws us and all creation to his love. 
 
In our Communion, heaven breaks in upon earth.  We are fed by and with Christ so that we may continue on this life's journey until we come to rest forever in him, to be forever like him, transformed, perfected.  We often don't recognise him among us, whether in the breaking of bread, or in the faces and lives of those around us.  Like the disciples, we fail to recognise Jesus again and again.  In these times when we can’t share Communion as we would wish, we are being called to recognise Jesus among us in those around us and in our hearts.  We see his face in the faces of those in need, in those who suffer, and in those who reach out to us in our need.  We find him too within us, never leaving us alone or forsaken; but right beside us through it all.  We will find the Jesus of Emmaus in our midst, at work bringing his light and love.  He may not fit our mental image or expectations, but we shall know him by what he does.  Perhaps then we may know him as he really is and own him for ourselves afresh in these uncertain times.
 
In the midst of boisterous horseplay as his mother spoke to the coach, Daniel and I talked about school, about his making the team, and his hopes for university.  It was obvious that the young man was still the sensitive, loving, kind-hearted soul he had always been.  That hadn’t changed.  I was immensely proud of him and very grateful that I had been given the time that we had shared all those years before.  Out of the blue he asked me if I remembered the little boat I had made for him long ago.  I said I did, though I didn't.  I remember the pirates' chest I made, the scavenger hunts, hide and seek, Lego castles, and how we could never watch 101 Dalmatians without him climbing into my lap lest I get scared of Cruella.  He hadn’t forgotten, that was the important thing.  The love was still real and now he walked life’s road discovering his own way, still supported and encouraged by that love.
 
Jesus has shown us that what lies at the heart of who we are never changes, even as we grow and change on the outside as we become who we are meant to be.  Let us be true to him and hold to the course as we walk beside him through the rest of our lives.  Amen.