Jesus is risen!
May you walk with the risen Lord as you love the Lord your God and love your neighbours always!
After a month-long announcement that Drummond Hill Cafe will be open for business, we are now doing our finishing touches. Two days from today, the doors will open at 10 am for Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays. Please come and celebrate with us this grand opening. The Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays will begin at 10 am every Tuesday. Come! Bring your friends!
We are also getting ready to be open for a Monthly Tea Tasting. Thank you to all those who are continually bringing us many varieties of teas. We will let you know the date of the first opening at the Cinnamon Bun Tuesdays.
We need a lot of prayers for planning a new way of reaching out and participating in God’s mission in Niagara Falls. As we have mentioned to you before, our hope is to start a different way of assisting those who are in need to flourish in life. Please pray that God’s guidance will lead to God’s will those who are planning this new way of participating in God’s mission.
As we begin our long road to reopening, it is with pleasure that we announce the music practice on Thursday evenings at 7 pm. It is our hope that those of you who have talent for music will come. Your contributions to our Sunday worship will be greatly appreciated. If you have friends who are able to sing, let them know that they are welcome, too.
We thank the Rev. Raye Brown for leading us our worship today.
Call to Worship (Psalm 30:1-4)
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
Hymn: Come, let us sing
With joys of remembering and witnessing through remembering, we come, O God. You have given us this great experience of your Son dying, yet, rising from the dead so that we may have hope in eternal life. May you be praised!
Humbly we come, still filled with the joy of receiving the good news of your Son’s resurrection. We bring all that we are. In your living Son, we find your forgiveness. In gratitude we present ourselves before you in this worship. Be glad and receive this worship. By the Holy Spirit, sanctify all that we do in praise and all that we lift up in prayers. Speak to us through the Scriptures and the Word being preached.
All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 24:13-27
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.
Sermon: a different way of believing
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, people came eagerly to hope in him as their redeemer. They were waiting for the Messiah to come. They wanted to believe in a leader who displayed their messianic ideals. When they saw a person who could do extraordinary things, they followed to see if that person was the one that God was sending for their deliverance from the powers of this world. Many people believed that Jesus was the messiah. The multitude of disciples who shouted, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” as Jesus entered Jerusalem hoped that Jesus was the one because he was the prophet of mighty deed and word. They hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel.
Their hope was dashed and crushed because Jesus was put to death. Now we read about the two among many who were heading home, dejected and broken. As they talked to each other the risen Jesus came along to accompany them. They only saw a stranger walking with them. After all, they did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Like the women who went to the tomb and were perplexed at the empty tomb because they did not remember, they too did not remember what Jesus told them about his death and resurrection. They told the story about how the women witnessed to them that they saw the vision of angels who told them Jesus was alive. In a fascinating way, these disciples omit the part that the women remembered what Jesus told them when he was alive before the death.
After the resurrection, remembering eventually became a very sacred activity in the fledgling community of believers. This is why Gospel Luke speaks of remembering in a special way. Remembering as an event for Christ’s followers grew into a Christological activity or the activity where the risen Christ is experienced. In this sense, by remembering, the women at the tomb experienced the risen Christ. For them there was no need to meet the risen Jesus as the case in Matthew, Mark, or John. Without remembering, unlike the women, the disciples, including those who went to the tomb, could not experience the risen Lord.. They focused on what they saw and came to know. The testimony of those who remembered astounded them, but did not make any sense. Without remembering, they could not believe what they heard on the account of what they saw.
Eventually the two disciples who were accompanied by the risen Jesus did come to experience the risen Jesus ever so briefly. Their eyes were opened as they shared the meal with the risen Lord and in the action of breaking of the bread and eating, they had their eyes opened. Through the action of breaking bread or partaking in communion, their eyes were opened and were able to see, know, and experience the risen Lord. The remembering through the breaking of the bread, therefore, is far more than an ordinary act of remembrance. This way of remembering through life’s experience of Jesus and his teaching brings us to experience and be in the presence of the risen Jesus. In this act of sharing bread, those who partake of the bread are graced with Christ’s living presence.
Today, more than ever, this remembering of what Jesus told his followers as one of the most important sacred and life giving graces is necessary. In forgetting as well as living in a state of amnesia of Jesus’ teachings we become more and more blind to the presence of Christ among us. Without the remembrance of Christ in this way, we live life of faith as the blinds leading and following the blinds. Just like these two disciples’ eyes were kept from recognising the risen Jesus, our eyes also are kept from discerning, perceiving, and seeing the risen One, even as we read and teach one another the content of the Scripture. Without this remembrance–through which the resurrected Christ is present among us–our lives become just like our neighbours, living according to our likes and dislikes, doing enough to be good, keeping safe distance from those who need Christ’s love the most.
Why is this sacred remembering important? Why do we, as Christians, continually debate whether the resurrection of Jesus is fact or fiction? When science, philosophy, and all other areas of human knowledge ignore or dismiss the idea of the actual resurrection of Jesus as not even a possibility at best and a made up story at the worst, why should we invest so much time and energy on the topic of resurrection of Jesus instead of all other wonderful teachings we can share with the world?
The sacred remembering of the resurrection of Jesus is at the centre of our faith for a number of reasons. Firstly, it challenges us to distinguish the truth from the falsehood. In our world, there are uncountable numbers of ways the truth is distorted, manufactured, construed, managed, and corrupted for evil and sinful purposes. It includes how many self-aggrandizing Christians to wrap themselves around the truth of the resurrection of Jesus to defraud vulnerable people and to grow their power throughout history.
Secondly, it challenges us to figure out ways to be authentic in sharing God’s love. Human societies have always experienced wars. Some were seen as just. Today we see the war in Ukraine. Some Christians are convinced that we ought to fight with Ukrainians against Soviets. Some Christians argue for a pacifist response. Other Christians are calling for a negotiated peace. In this very confusing situation, the remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus brings us to face all the teachings Jesus gave us. His teachings make us face and be accountable. One example is to remember his teaching on loving the enemies. What does it mean for us to remember this teaching to love even the enemies when bombs are falling all around so many people and killing so many indiscriminately?
Thirdly, it challenges us to examine ourselves. This examination begins with whether we truly believe in the living Lord today or simply a once lived wonderful teacher who taught everyone to love. To face our deep questions of faith, we can move onto exploring our work in the world as whether what we are doing is truly done as part of this living Christ’s ministry or altruistic work that we are engaged in because we are good people. This exploration leads us to scrutinise our motives of being Christian today. We continually vet to see why we witness, proclaim, and share the Gospel of Christ. Are we doing so because we will be rewarded with the entry into heavenly kingdom? Are we doing so because we are obedient to God’s command (in other words, proving we are God’s people and appeasing God)? Or are we doing so because we are responding to the unconditional and infinite love and grace of God as our way of loving God and all God’s creation?
In encountering the resurrection of Jesus every year at this time is to remember what Jesus said as the women at the empty tomb did. To remember is to accept, trust, and believe what we are told. In remembering, we, then, have our eyes opened to be part of Christ’s body as we confess. Having remembered, with faith and hope we love by witnessing, proclaiming, sharing, and living by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses to follow the Lord here and now.
With a sincere and trusting heart we bring our prayers as our way of loving you and your people. Hear our prayer.
When we lift our eyes, we see people in despair. They are running from death. Wars, diseases, and poverty threaten their lives. They run only to find lives at death’s door. Wherever they go, they find that they have not run far away from the power of death. Without homes, sufficient supplies, and work, they and their families struggle to stay alive each day. Humiliation overwhelms them as they stretch their hands to others for help. Shame covers them as they try to beg others to save them. Anger leads them to inevitable death at the hands of others or by their own hands. Be with them. Be the living hope for them. Be the Way, the Truth, and the Life for them. May the risen Jesus be with them as the living love that leads them to life in you so that they may not fear death, but find the victory over the power of death.
When we lift our eyes, we see your churches in disarray. So many congregations in Canada are struggling to keep going as more and more people stay away from them. In this time of church closings, everyone is anxious and is becoming more willing in accepting the death of their beloved churches. They are trying to make peace with death. O Lord, you are the living Creator. You are the One who gives life and raised your Son from the dead. Make us see that in you is life. It is you who continues to pour life into us so that we may walk the way of life that was shown in Christ Jesus our Lord. Bless us to walk as the Easter people who are called to bring life to this world.
When we lift our eyes, we see a darker future for us. Though we proclaim with our lips your Son as our living Lord, we are more keen on giving up than participating in your ministry with steadfast love for you and for one another. Help us to focus on the message of the risen Lord. Keep us from all these threats of death. Make us know that you are the God of the living, that in you Christ has won the victory over death, and that we do not need to fear death as long as you are with us in all that we do. Gift us the faith so that we may truly be the living presence–the body of living Christ–in all of life.
All these we pray in the name of your Son. Amen.
What shall we offer you, O God? You are the God who provides all things for us. You are self-sufficient and forever loving. Our offerings amount to nothing before your great mercy. Yet, we bring our love to you through these offerings. Be kind and receive our hearts. Know that through these offerings we commit our lives to the work of your hand in this world as you create it in your image.
Bless us in ways that we may serve you always. In the name of Jesus, who rose from the dead so that we may have life, we pray. Amen.
Hymn: All the way my Saviour leads me
Hymn: Come, let us sing