Sunday 26th April 2020

How to use this order of service:
This service makes use of pre-recorded materials enabling you to make use of it at whatever time of day, and at whatever pace, suits you. Don’t immediately print it off, rather keep it on your screen so that you may access the hymns at the click of a mouse. When you click on any of the links you’ll be taken to the appropriate video on Youtube; once you are there simply press play. You are then free to listen or join in as you see fit. After each video ends simply switch back to the order of service and pick up where you left off.

Call to Worship (Psalm 116: 1-2)
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

HYMN 124 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation

Prayer
Lord, we gather this day to praise your holy name.
With heart and mind and mouth,
we give thanks for you are our God.
We give thanks because you are no stranger
but a companion on the journey of life.
You stand not distant
but circling us with your love.
So we praise you this day,
and bless your holy name.

We bless you
that you are patient with us.
As we rush around
you are still and at our side.
Even as we are too busy for you
you wait as close as a heartbeat.
When we cling fast to ourselves
you embrace us in the loving arms of Jesus.
So today we call upon your mercy.

[silent prayer]

God of power and might
Transform us we pray.
Give us peace in our hearts.
Give us patience in our minds.
Make us anew each day.

Take us in this moment
and accept our prayers;
accept our thoughts;
accept out worship.
In the name of the Risen Jesus.
Amen.

As our Risen Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Lord’s Prayer.

Scriptures:
Acts 2:14a, 36-41

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Luke 24:13-35
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.

HYMN 562 Through the love of God, our Saviour

Reflection

One more step
Do you ever find that the journey of faith can feel like a walk along a rocky road? In the readings for this Sunday we encounter two groups of people for whom this was, in differing ways, true.

In our reading from Acts Peter cuts straight to the point, telling his audience that the reason for their troubles was that none of them had recognised what God had been doing for them and the wider world. He tells them that they had been oblivious to the true nature and role of Jesus. Although rather blunt, he makes his point and it is understood; we see that in the response the gathered group make. They want to know how to respond to the challenge they have just received; they want to know what they can do. Peter gives them two steps – repent, and be baptised. To our ears these may sound like strange replies, after all what does it mean to ‘repent’? If we were, like many, baptised as an infant then what do we do about the latter of Peter’s two demands? Hold on to your answers and thoughts for a few moments, and we’ll return to them.

The second group of people who were finding life difficult were the two who were journeying along the road to Emmaus. The clue to their hurt is the phrase, ‘we had hoped’. They were despondent because their hope and dreams had been shattered; their belief that Jesus would restore the rule of God and free his people had been snuffed out; even Jesus, himself, had been executed by the state authorities. Like many in the scriptures and, indeed, many of us they had seen their life’s hopes disappear before their eyes. It’s hard to imagine the hurt and confusion they felt, nor the unanswered questions that they had. Today there are many of us who hurt, and many who have profound questions about life. But what about us?

Repent and be baptised! Peter, as always, charges straight on in; there are no subtleties or gentle hints with him. Repent means to turn around our path of life; it means to turn from one way of living life, and to move in a very different direction. In this case it means to move from living life as we would choose and to live as God would require. Baptism is a sign of commitment to that path; it’s a proclamation of allegiance, of faith, in the one who demands the change. It’s blunt and to the point; it’s right; it’s Peter.

Often, though, a slower and gentler approach to hurt is the right way. On the Emmaus road Jesus doesn’t cut straight in as Peter would; rather, he allows the two disciples to share their troubles, and to explore what it means. He allows them time to be, and to move from a direction focussed on pain to one where healing is the goal. It is only when they are ready to be healed that Jesus reveals his risen self to them.

God’s ways are often not our ways, and this is something we see in the two approaches to the two groups. Usually our default position is to take the Peter approach when often the better one is to follow the path taken by Jesus. By following his gentler, slower, approach we could become agents of healing in our communities, whether they be households, families, or neighbourhoods. It means taking the time to hear folks’ stories, allowing them to explore their hurt or pain, and enabling them to begin to move toward healing and answers. It means not following the path that’s easier, like Peter offering immediate answers, but the harder path of Jesus. It means following the path of mercy, grace, and compassion. It means taking things one step at a time.

Amen.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Lord Jesus,
when things happen that we find hard to deal with
when our head goes down
and our eyes see no further than our own feet,
help us to be honest with You
even if it’s through tears
or rage
and ride the storm with us.
Help us to trust You’re there
even when we cannot see or feel You close
then gently tilt our faces to look into Yours
to find there
limitless compassion
endless understanding and patience
and the courage we need to begin again.

We bring to You those who carry forever in their hearts,
the pain of losing a child…
we bring to you those who have coped with the suicide of a loved one….
and all those who mourn…
we bring to you all those who struggle with ill-health,
especially at this time those who live in fear of infection ….
we bring to you all those who enable daily life to carry on ….
speak into each life, we pray,
to bring strength and courage
and to re-kindle the flame of hope….

As the Psalmist has said:
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
In the courts of your presence,
I will Praise the Lord!
Amen.

HYMN 192 All my hope on God is founded

Blessing:

Go now knowing God goes with you
Go to find God in surprising places
At surprising times
Go to journey together with all God’s people
And to discover the plans God has for you
And for this world.
The Blessing of our ever-present God
the ever-living Son
the ever-active Holy Spirit
descend upon You
and remain with You
now and always.
Amen.

Acknowledgements/Copyright Information
Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Closing Prayer & Blessing
Developed from words written by former Moderator to the General Assembly, the Very Rev Susan Brown, Minister of Dornoch Cathedral. Published by the Church of Scotland.