Sermon - Brad Brookins

April 8, 2018 Sermon - Brad Brookins
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Sermon

 

04-08-18

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.

 

How many of you were here for the Easter celebration?  I’m thinking last Sunday was a pretty good day in the life of this congregation; but I’m curious to hear what you think.  What gift was given to you on Easter morning?  What did you hear and see and feel and receive by being here?…

Now here’s the thing: a day like last Sunday sometimes makes coming back a week later for another Sunday seem a little like an anti-climax.  After all, what more is there to say or to sing that we haven’t already said and sung?

That’s why I like to read the after-Easter stories on the Sundays after Easter.  They were written for this day, I think.  And they remind us of something really important—important not just for the first Sunday after Easter but for every Sunday after Easter and for all the days in between those Sundays.

They remind us, to borrow a phrase from that great master of the English language, Yogi Bera, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.

Two of Jesus’ friends are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus deep in a conversation about events that have left them sad and perplexed and puzzled—all at the same time.

They are joined by a “stranger”—someone they should have recognized but don’t, who picks up the thread of their sad exchange and weaves for them a new and beautiful tapestry of hope.  The Stranger takes all the old stories they knew so well and shows them they don’t know those stories at all.

He helps them see that what they thought was the end of the world was, in fact, the very moment of its creation.

They don’t want his story to end so they invite the stranger to supper.  He accepts. He sits at their table, takes their bread, blesses it and breaks it.

At that moment they see!

In that Communion-like moment they realize the Jesus they thought was dead and gone is very much alive and there.

The world has not come to an end—though it has changed.  The future has not been lost—though it is now full of surprises.

When Jesus breaks the bread and feeds them they see—It ain’t over till it’s over; and it ain’t over yet.

 

John’s gospel includes a story from several days after that first Easter.  Seven of the disciples, at a loss as to what they should do, go home and try to go back to their old life—fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

They spend the night on the lake, like they always used to, but the fish have gone deep; way beyond their reach.  They work the nets till dawn and catch nothing.

At sunrise they return to shore to find a man tending a fire on the beach and cooking their breakfast—bread and fish baking on hot stones. 

And John writes: “None of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”

He fed them, you see.  Bread—again.  And in that Communion-like moment they realized the world was going to go on; the sun would rise;  day would follow day.  This would be so in spite of what they had been through; what they had feared; what they thought they had lost.

“It ain’t over till it’s over”, they realized; and it ain’t over yet.

And then Peter and Jesus go for a walk down the beach together—yeah that Peter who, only a few days before and even more than the others, had witnessed the end of the world—had brought on the end of the world, or so he thought.

That Peter—who three times and with the harshest language, swore to everyone who could hear that he did not know Jesus—is now walking along the beach with him.

—with this man who had been very much dead and now was very much alive.

—who had just fed him breakfast.

Three times Peter had denied Jesus.  Three times, as they walk along, Jesus asks him, “Peter, do you love me?”

And in that question Peter is given back the life he had thrown away.  His failure—his monstrous, unforgivable failure is forgotten.  The old is finished and gone.  Everything has been made new.

Peter stands before the door he himself had slammed shut; the door to the future he himself had denied.

And Jesus opens the door and beckons him to go through.

“It ain’t over till it’s over”, he tells Peter.  And it ain’t over yet!

That’s the message of the Sunday after Easter and every Sunday after that and all the days in between.

It ain’t over till it’s over; and it ain’t over yet.

The resurrection of Jesus signals not just his change from death to life—as singular and as important and as wonderful as that was, and is.

The resurrection of Jesus signals the re-creation of the whole world; the resurrection and re-direction of every life on earth.

The old world ended on Friday afternoon.  But a new world began on Easter morning. It isn’t over till it’s over.  We begin again, with him, on Easter morning because it isn’t over yet.

 

—The women who came early to mourn at the tomb.

—The disciples holed up in terror behind locked doors.

—His dejected friends walking home to Emmaus.

—His followers on the beach.

—His forgivable friend Peter, who would never have forgiven himself.

Every one of them thought they were done; but they were just getting started.  They thought the story had reached its conclusion; but it was only beginning.  They thought they were finished; but they hadn’t considered the power of a resurrection to change everything and to make everything—to make them—new.

That’s the message of the Sunday after Easter; no less for us than it was for them.

It isn’t over till it’s over—and it isn’t over yet.

Remember this when you come to the table in a few moments to again be fed and nourished.  The mystery of this table is the mystery of the resurrection, and the mystery of our faith—Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ has come again.  We break this bread and bless this wine, but it is Jesus who feeds us; and brings us to life.

It isn’t over till it’s over

We need to remember this—

—On those days when we feel dead; when, as Wendell Berry says, “despair for the world grows in us and we wake in the night at the least sound, in fear of what our lives and our children’s lives may be”.

—When we fear this resurrection thing is not real.  

It is.  We saw it last Sunday. 

 

We need to remember this—

—when someone we love—a child or a parent or a lover or a friend, is lost or lonely or afraid or hungry.

It isn’t over till it’s over.

It isn’t over yet.

Resurrection still happens.

 

So remember

—the Jesus who went home with his friends in Emmaus; who blessed and broke their bread.

—who came to his friends, after their night of frustration and failure on the lake, meeting them with breakfast ready.

It isn’t over till it’s over.

It isn’t over yet.

Christ is risen. 

We are risen with him. 

And today the journey begins again.

Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Bible Study

Text and Questions

04-08-18

Luke 24. 13-35

 

The full text for this week is below.  You will want to read it a couple of times before tackling these questions.  Enjoy.

 

 

1.          Recall the story from Easter Sunday and discuss the implications for the church of this statement by the contemporary Jesuit writer James Martin:  “Gospel: Between the time Mary Magdalene met the Risen Christ at Easter and when she announced his Resurrection to the disciples, Mary Magdalene was the church on earth, for only to her had been revealed the Paschal (Easter) Mystery.  Any discussion of women in the church begins with this.”

2.        Imagine, and list, the topics Cleopas and his friend were discussing.

3.         If you had been a follower of Jesus, not a disciple but one of the larger group of followers, where would you have been on Easter Sunday afternoon? What would have been the most important question for you?

4.        v. 22: “Moreover, some women of our group astounded us.”  Discuss the role of women in the story of Jesus as told by the gospel writers, especially from the crucifixion onward.  Why are men so easily astonished by women? (That is meant as a serious question).

5.         Cleopas describes the women having seen “a vision of angels”.    Is that significant?  What is your understanding of a vision?  Is a vision of angels “real”?  Is a thought “real”?  How about a feeling?  How about God?  What does “real” mean?

6.        Think about how we think about spiritual things/ideas/experiences.  What do words like God, Christ, Spirit and soul mean to you?  How do you know what you know about them?

7.         Two really important and fascinating questions:  A: Why is it that Jesus breaking the bread, and not his teaching of the facts, opens the eyes of his hosts—that is to say, what does the bread communicate that the facts do not?  B:  What are the implications of the answer to that question for our experience of the Communion meal each Sunday?

 

 

 

 

Luke 24. 13-35

 

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.

18Then 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?’ 19He 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, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But 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. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and 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. 24Some 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.’

25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But 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.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

32They 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?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.