April 26, 2020

April 26, 2020

Dear LCC Members and Friends,

This service seeks to help open a door to the divine, as does all spiritual ritual.

You might light a candle or take whatever other steps help you gather a sense of holiness.

May God bless you and keep you.

 

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Welcome and Announcements

 

Centering Moment - Sally Kealy
Take a moment to let your awareness drop down inside you, into the ocean of loving awareness that is within all of us.

Call to Worship - John Kealy

One: We gather knowing that the tomb is empty.

Many: We meet as a resurrection people.

One: May the Peace of Christ illuminate our faith.

Many: May we see the light of God in unlikely places.

One: Jesus calls us to our source of hope and joy for others and ourselves.

All: Let us worship with glad hearts and spirits uplifted. Amen.

 

Invocation
O Risen Christ, we come this morning with eager anticipation. We seek to see you, to love you, to follow you. Open our hearts, that we might witness your new life in us. Open our lives, that we might be faithful participants in your resurrection. Amen.

Hymn“Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35 – Jim Perkins

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.

 

Reflection

This story reminds me of childhood episodes I vaguely remember on television – probably cartoons – when I could see what a character was looking for even when he or she couldn’t see it. I don’t remember the details of those stories, but I sure remember the desperation I felt. “It’s right there!” I would shout…” Over there!!... Look!!!”

I have a similar feeling when hearing our Gospel story this morning. Cleopas and the other disciple are miserable, walking the road of broken dreams, grieving the loss of their friend who they hoped would be their savior, and all the while he’s right there with them.

I want to shout out: “He’s right there! He’s the one walking with you!!... Look!!!”

The same thing happens in the Gospel of John, when Mary discovers the empty tomb and can’t recognize Jesus. She thinks he is the gardener until she hears him call her name, and then she recognizes him.

What do you think it is that prevents the disciples from recognizing Jesus? Is it fear? Are their hearts so wounded they simply can’t focus on what’s right in front of them?

We can empathize, can’t we? I know I have to reach deep these days to see beyond the uncertainty and the wounding. It has always been this way when all I see is hardship and I have lost sight of the goodness that is also with me.

And yet there’s a lesson in Jesus’ remaining incognito for a while, because he is able to simply be a companion on the road.

In this, Luke is reminding us that in hardship, sometimes it’s the simple pleasures of life that can help us the most to get through our difficulties... simple pleasures like human companionship. We can relate to that these days, yes?... even though we may find our human companionship through the computer or the phone? I’ve never been so grateful to see all your faces on Sunday mornings.

With all the fear and uncertainty these days, we need life’s simple gifts more than ever, don’t we? Like sunshine, which feels more precious than ever. Like my morning coffee, which has never tasted so good.

We need to savor such pleasures. We have been made by God for this. Why else would we enjoy them so much?! The beauty of the world is a face of God for us to delight in… Let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118)

In fact, when we are able to taste and see life’s gifts, we find strength and we find ourselves more able to give.

Sometimes, though, our burdens are too heavy to allow any savoring, like the disciples in our story. When this happens, let us not despair… as for them, we too will recognize again the beauty and the joy in life.

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There’s another key lesson in this story. It draws on what it is that triggers the disciples’ recognition of Jesus: They invited him to stay with them rather than continuing alone… they gave him supper and a place to stay the night.

And then, at their table, as Jesus breaks the bread and blesses it and gives it to them, their eyes are opened and they recognize that the risen Christ – their salvation – has been with them the whole time.

The disciples’ simple generosity has provided a window onto the miracle of God-with-us, and they see he is as alive as ever… against all odds. Their hospitality has become a doorway to the divine. Loving their neighbor has revealed the undying fullness of Life.

And so it is for us, in these days of darkness… we witness a galaxy of light-filled portals to the miracle of God’s grace… we are more aware than ever of the richness of opportunities we are given to help each other and the world.

It can be as simple as calling a friend who may be lonely. Or making masks for folks who need them. Or making use of special connections to order thousands of masks from China, as Mary Ryan did a few weeks ago.

We help in the ways we are given to help. And the great good news is that the little ways count as much as the big ways, as Jesus shows us in today’s story, when he chooses just to walk for a while with the grieving disciples.

The other day I called Joyce to talk her through using Zoom on her iPad, so she could join us today. (I hope you don’t mind me telling this story, Joyce.) It only took us a few minutes, because Joyce is remarkably capable, and yet what a fullness of joy we received in return for our simple willingness to connect, both in that conversation and in having Joyce with us today.

There’s nothing more powerful than hearts connecting. Our relationships are pathways to enlightenment, and when we connect, the love ripples out into human consciousness to spread more love. This is how we heal the world.

It is the oldest story we have, taught by all wisdom traditions. No matter how deep the darkness, the light of Love is deeper. No matter how strong the forces of fear and hate, Love is stronger.

When Luke tells us in today’s story that that Jesus “interpreted to [the disciples] the things about himself in all the scriptures,” this is Luke telling us that Jesus’ resurrection is the most recent revelation in a tradition devoted to the truth of light overcoming darkness.

In our creation stories, God creates life from the original chaos. After the destruction of Noah’s flood, we are given new life and new hope. “From the slavery of Egypt come freedom and a homeland [and] a renewed people.” (2)

Our heroes are always the ones who find it in their hearts to care and connect. Like Ruth, who chooses the likelihood of suffering when she refuses to abandon her mother-in-law Naomi. “Where you go I will go,” she says despite her fear and uncertainty, “and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

We may not be able to control much, but we have the ability to connect with and care for the ones God puts on our path.

And we are blessed to be in this holy circle with each other… to walk together… to worship together… to offer hospitality together. Let us savor our heart connections, and so let us be fed by them with renewed hope and strength and willingness to rejoice in the goodness of life.

Like the disciples, our road will sometimes be a road of hope and celebration and sometimes it will be a road of broken dreams. Whatever road we find ourselves on in any given moment, let us recognize that no matter how heavy our burdens, the One who gives us undying life – the universal, risen Christ -- walks with us, always. Amen.

 

Hymn: “O Master, let Me Walk With Thee

Passing the Peace of Christ

 

Prayers

Oh Risen Christ, face of God, we welcome the empty tomb for we know that it means you are on the loose. From the depths of our current crisis, we pray that we find the resurrection of your Peace within us and amongst us. For all of us and all people in the world, help us to know that you are in us and we are in you, and bring us your peace and comfort and strength and hope. We pray for those on our prayer list and for those we have just named. We pray for those who are ill… for those in pain or loneliness or fear… for those who grieve. We pray for all who suffer from the tragedies of war and all kinds of violence against each other and our earth. We pray for all who are defenseless. We pray for all beings. Finally, we pray for those whose names we lift up to you now in our hearts. 

 

God, it is you have made us, and not we ourselves. We are dust without your breath of life. Help us to rise in your undying life. Breathe your Spirit into us that we might be faithful in the tasks you set before us. We ask in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray to you the prayer we say together now, saying,

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

Unison Response: “O Lord, Hear My Prayer”
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.
 

Hymn: “Amazing Grace” – Andrea Bocelli 

On Easter Day, Andrea Bocelli sang sacred music in a program he called “Music for Hope.” He sang alone in the Duomo cathedral in Milan, accompanied only by the Duomo’s organist, Emanuele Vianelli, on one of the world’s largest pipe organs. For his final selection, he walked outside and sang “Amazing Grace” acapella from the Duomo’s steps.


Benediction
Let us go from this place in the knowledge that life breaks through the tomb. Let your heart rise to the light as flowers rise, and know the Risen Christ is within you today and always. Amen.

 

God bless you all,

Lee

OTHER LINKS
ADDRESS

Leverett Congregational Church

4 Montague Road

PO Box 324

Leverett, MA 01054

 413-548-9199 

WORSHIP TIMES

Sundays at 10 AM

ALL are welcome

Handicap accessible

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