Home Worship- April 26 

Sunday 26th April 2020 – Rev Lorna Valentine (North Bedfordshire Circuit)


 

Opening Prayer

As you come to worship you might like to picture a road that you know really well.  Is it straight or twisted?  Is it smooth or uneven?  Is it busy or quiet?  Who else uses it?  Who have you walked the road with?  Hold the picture in your mind while you pray.

As I come before you today God, I bring you my road recognising others are bringing theirs too.  For some the road to worship today will have been difficult while for others it has been smooth.  For some there will have been twists and turns, for others it may have felt straight and plodding.  Some will have walked alone and others with companions.  Thank you that you walk each road with us, uniting us as a community of faith wherever we are to the glory of your name.  Amen.

Hymn: Christ is alive! (Singing the Faith 297)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohxaG7ZIxzE

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing

The cross stands empty to the sky

Let streets and homes with praises ring

Love, drowned in death, shall never die

Christ is alive! No longer bound

to distant years in Palestine,

but saving, healing, here and now,

and touching every place and time.

In every insult, rift and war,

where colour, scorn or wealth divide,

Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,

and lives, where even hope has died.

Women and men, in age and youth,

can feel the Spirit, hear the call,

and find the way, the life, the truth,

revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

Christ is alive and comes to bring

good news to this and every age,

till earth and sky and ocean ring

with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

Brian Wren (b. 1936)

 

Let me join my prayers with others today

Loving God, for the times I have seen you journeying with me, I am thankful.

Gracious God, for the times I have seen others journeying with you, I am humbled,

Holy God, for the times I have not recognised your journeying with me, I am sorry.

Forgiving God, thank you for the assurance that you will continue to journey with me.

Living God, in my journey this week help me to see glimpses of your good news so that my heart burns within me.  Amen.

 

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 24:13-35


Reflection by Rev Neil Stacey

I wonder if you find yourself doing what I’m doing at the moment: looking at old TV programmes and commenting in the light of current health advice. Whether it is a quiz show or a gripping drama, I’m saying out loud, “You’re too close! … What happened to social distancing?”

I find myself looking at every gospel story, and reflecting on it in the light of our current experience. But, come to think about it, isn’t that what I am trying to do every week as a preacher – turning to Scripture, and seeing what light it might shed on daily life?

So I read today’s gospel reading, about the journey to Emmaus - and I can’t help smiling, and thinking to myself, “What was this stranger doing, approaching the two disciples as they walked along the road?”  More seriously, though, perhaps we now understand the amazement of these two disciples, who cannot understand this stranger who appears to have no knowledge of what had happened to Jesus.  Imagine someone joining one of our conversations, and asking, “What are you talking about?”  And we would say, “Are you the only person who isn’t talking about Coronavirus?” – only to get the reply, “What virus?”  We would be dumbfounded!

The two heartbroken disciples tell their story and dare to express something about their faith. After talking about the death of Jesus, they say, “We had hoped that he was the one to set Israel free.”  They go on to say that they have been told that he is alive.  They are struggling.  Yet, as they share, they are encouraged in faith.  I wonder how many times you have been in a conversation recently (perhaps safely, over the phone!) in which you have expressed your own uncertainty and confusion.  Yet somehow in the talking, we have been encouraged.  I wonder if we have spotted that the risen Christ is with us on this journey? 

And at the end of the day, when they show kindness and offer hospitality to the stranger, they find that he blesses them with a glimpse of glory.  We thank God for the glimpses we are spotting in these days, seen most of all in the sacrifices - great and small – being made to share care and kindness.

May God bless all those who journey today is filled with sadness, fear and confusion.  May God bless you if you are able to make a daily walk!  May God bless you as you sit round a simple table:

“Peace be with you”.


A time of prayer

As you prepare to pray, you may find it helpful to reflect on this hymn verse:

 ‘This, this is the God we adore,
our faithful unchangeable friend,
whose love is as great as his power,
and neither knows measure nor end’

Joseph Hart, Singing the faith 66

 

Faithful God, you are present in all aspects of life even when people don’t see it.  We call on you today to send your Spirit to bring comfort and peace to all who find their path ahead difficult.

 

We pray for your church and all those seeking ways to be church in these times.

May they recognize your living presence.

 

We pray for the world and all those seeking to offer leadership in the midst of uncertainty.

May they recognize your living presence.

 

We pray for all those who suffer at this time in body, mind or spirit.

May they recognize your living presence.

 

We pray for all who are bereaved whether through the loss of loved ones or the loss of human contact.

May they recognize your living presence.

 

Merciful God, accept these our prayers today in and through the name of the living Christ. 

May we too recognize your living presence in the week ahead and trust in you for all that is to come.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father ……

Hymn: ‘Lord I come to you’ (Singing the Faith 471)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga6Qtxzd6vk

Lord, I come to you,

let my heart be changed, renewed,

flowing from the grace

that I found in you.

And Lord, I've come to know

 the weaknesses I see in me

will be stripped away

by the power of your love.

Hold me close,

let your love surround me;

bring me near, draw me to your side.

And as I wait,

I'll rise up like the eagle,

and I will soar with you,

your Spirit leads me on

in the power of your love.

Lord, unveil my eyes,

let me see you face to face,

the knowledge of your love

as you live in me.

Lord, renew my mind,

as your will unfolds in my life

in living every day

by the power of your love.

Geoff Bullock (b. 1956)

 

A prayer of blessing – adapted from a traditional Celtic prayer

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the presence of Christ
Wherever you are on the road.


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.

Time to Reflect - By Rev Lorna Valentine

Two friends are walking down a road together in a place of deep despair and sadness.  They can barely get their heads around what has happened because they ‘had hoped’ for something so different.  A stranger begins to walk alongside them and, to their complete amazement, the events that have so rocked their world seem to have passed him by.  How can he not have heard what has been going on?  Where has he been?  It seems impossible that anyone could be walking that road and not know what they have been through.

We too are living through troubling times at the moment and may feel as if we hoped for something so different.  I wonder if, like me, there are times you have walked the road of despair over the last weeks.  I definitely think that if any of us crossed paths with someone who seemed to know nothing of our journey, we’d have a few questions too! 

Yet in that place of despair, even when they do not know it, Christ journeys with the disciples.  More than that, he opens up the scripture in a way that clearly energises and invigorates them despite their hurt and pain.  Then, in that simple, every day act of breaking bread, they see anew the presence of Christ among them.

I wonder if, as we have travelled our current road individually and together, you too have been surprised by Christ?  Have you experienced any bread-breaking moments of recognizing the presence of Jesus?  What scriptures or prayers or hymns have you found particularly speaking to your heart? 

I invite you to reflect on this for a moment.

For me, I have been surprised by the many ways people have found to continue to be church without our familiar patterns of meeting and worshipping.  Christ has been present in acts of hospitality and prayer, in phone calls and stillness and my heart has burned within me even as I have felt despair.    

Take a time to sit quietly and ask Christ to be present for you in new ways this week.