Sermon preached on Easter 3 2023 based on Luke 24:13-35
May I speak and may you hear through the Grace of our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
May I speak and may you hear… sounds like a one-sided conversation to me, and I guess that’s what a sermon is. But it shouldn’t be just so. A sermon or talk should help interpret the words of scripture that have been selected as the day’s topic and bring it to life, using historical facts, contextual references and theological reasoning, so that it can be applied to people’s lives for today.
For some people listening they will find themselves pondering over a word or phrase that they heard at the beginning, such as the fact that Emmaus is about seven miles from Jerusalem and they were having to walk there, on dusty roads, in the hot sun, in sandals, over rocky ground… meanwhile the talk has moved on and they end up having to try and catch up with the main thread.
Whilst others will take on board the key points, weaving them into a coherent thought stream of consciousness. Hopefully, by the end of the talk, the listener will understand a little clearer what the message is within the text and the talk’s climax will reveal something to provide them with something to take away and share with others.
So, let’s see if together we can’t work out what we should be having a conversation about this morning, what questions we have, our ideas and thoughts and the possible and impossible answers we could come to, to help us leave a little bit more aware of what it might mean for us and for others.
We are imagining ourselves back to that fateful Friday. We have witnessed or heard that Jesus has been crucified, his dead body taken down and his body placed inside a sealed tomb. The joy of his arrival in Jerusalem and promise of change now dashed aside. We have spent a mournful Sabbath, wondering how so many people can have been so naive to have staked everything on one man – a man whom God has cast aside just like all of his prophets had been cast aside before.
And here we all are, walking that same road, with our thoughts and questions, our experiences of life, our hopes and dreams, wondering if we can believe all the things that have been told to us. Feeling foolish from time to time to admit that we believe something that we can never prove with incontrovertible evidence.
Therefore, we share our thoughts and alongside us comes a stranger, who wants to know what we are talking about; and we are saddened that here is someone who hasn’t heard about this man, but who appears willing to listen to us. So, we tell of this incredible Jesus of Nazareth, who seemed to have the voice of God and power that brought physical and mental healing and was able to do such things that would appear miraculous for just a man. A man who could have saved us and forever redeemed Israel before God.
A stranger who might appear in our very midst at any time, who wants to know what it is we believe in, what knowledge do we have that makes such a difference to the way we live, how we treat people, who we love and what we hope for.
And this morning reports of an empty tomb, a missing body and angelic visions speaking of resurrection! But we’re not afraid to reveal the fact that something amazing, incomprehensible, and downright impossible seems to have happened. People whom we have got to know really well and grown to trust have been telling us that Jesus is actually alive.
So, what do we tell our stranger this morning? Tales or legends, mythological stories and fables or the truth?
Truth that has been revealed from the beginning of time, through generations of people who lived as God’s people, who knew him and those whom he sent to guide them. God, who stood by them as they turned away and then welcomed them back with open arms. Who taught them to live according to his word, and whose Word appeared in the form of his Son, the promised Messiah. Whose life would be offered up, to suffer on the cross and whose resurrection would reveal the Saviour of the world.
The evidence is there for us to share as well. For those two disciples it was revealed in the breaking of the bread at a meal they invited the stranger to share. For us it could be through our hospitality, our outreach, our pastoral concerns, our love of God and our love of each other, both friend and stranger.
Eager to do so, we hurry to tell our own experiences to others and find that some of them have already heard the Good News. But there are still many more who haven’t, so we share our experiences, why our belief in God in making a difference in our lives and how the same could be true for them.
Our one-sided conversations has become a two-way discussion, and if our words can ignite a flame that burns brightly in other’s hearts then we will know that Jesus has been alongside us all the time, even if we have never seen him… until we break bread together.