ervice for Sunday 8 May 2011
Call to Worship Psalm 116 10-12 (Responsive)
Hymn Together in Song 376 I know that my Redeemer lives
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
We thank you that you are always at work in the world
Even in the places and ways we don't recognise
We thank you that you walk our life's journey with us
Through the easy parts
and through the hard times.
We confess that sometimes
we don't recognise your work in the world
because we aren't looking out for what you are doing
or because we have our own ideas of what you should be doing.
Open our eyes
help us to see what you are doing,
help us to follow your lead.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Don't you just hate it when you lose something, like your keys or a book you need right away, and spend ages searching for it, only to find it somewhere you're sure you've looked three or four times already?
For some reason, there are times we just don't see what's under our noses.
In our Gospel reading, Cleopas and his friend, clearly didn't see what was right under their noses.
They were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and joined by a “stranger”.
And we wonder why they didn't recognise him, why they didn't see what was right in front of them. Interestingly, a common theme of the resurrection stories is that people just didn't recognise Jesus. Perhaps he looked different. Perhaps, under the influence of grief, they just weren't understanding what their eyes saw. Perhaps they were just so confused about all the things that had happened and all of the things Jesus had said about resurrection that they didn't trust what they saw. Or maybe they just didn't see because they weren't looking – Jesus was dead, why look for him doing something as ordinary as walking along the road with them?
When we're going about our ordinary life, do we look for Jesus everywhere we go? We're far enough this side of Easter to have heard about the resurrection! The people back there at the beginning of all of this didn't have the benefit of all the tradition we can rely on.
Because they weren't looking they almost didn't see Jesus, even though he was right there with them. If we're not looking we could also miss out on seeing what God in Jesus is doing in and among the people and places that are a normal part of our everyday life.
Jesus, in this story, acted as he'd always acted: he taught from the Scriptures and he explained about himself (just as he had done prior to the crucifixion. Then and now, Jesus' behaviour is, and always has been, consistent.
They finally recognised him in the breaking of the bread. Could it be that Jesus has walked with us, sought to teach us, to show himself to us all week? But the only time we're likely to recognise him is when we expect to see him: in church or at holy communion. Could we all have failed to notice him walking the journey with us for the rest of the week?
On recognising Jesus, they reacted instantly. Although they'd walked for ages, they ran back the way they had come. They knew exactly what to do with their discovery – tell others that Jesus had been with them on the road.
When we discover Jesus is active in our lives, in the world around us: Do we react instantly? Do we gain new strength and energy? Do we rush to tell others? Do we scratch our heads, think “well that's odd”, and continue on as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Do we just wonder where to go or what to do with this new discovery.
The followers in the story were taken by surprise. If we are willing to pay attention, to look more closely at the everyday events of our lives, we might find that God is at work in our lives in what might be surprising ways as well.
Hymn Together in Song 380 Yours be the glory risen, conquering Son
Prayers of the People
We thank you God that you are at work in the places we don't expect
Help us to see you at work in the needs of others:
the tired travelling companion
the teenaged parent
the homeless youth
the victim of disasters
the victim of wars.
Help us to see your hand at work
when compassion is shown where violence is expected
when generosity is shown where greed is expected
when healing happens where sickness is expected
when food is given where hunger is normal
Help us to see where you are in the world
and in seeing, help us to have the strength to share in your work
and the courage to tell others.
We play this morning especially for the mothers in this world
for mothers who are able to provide all their children need
for mothers who are unable to provide what their children need
for mothers whose children are with them
for mothers who have outlived their children
for mothers who are separated from their children.
Prayer points from newsletter
Hymn Together in Song 514 Be known to us in breaking bread.
Hymn Together in Song 531 Sent forth by God's blessing