Archive for April, 2017

Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us…

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

A Pilgrimage of Trust and the Emmaus Road

Luke 24.13-35

 

Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us.

The gathering of people from across Europe this weekend in Birmingham is part of the Taizé Community’s pilgrimage of trust on earth – we are travelling together as people sharing in a journey of faith.  We can learn at least four things from today’s gospel story to encourage and inspire us as we continue on this pilgrimage of trust.

First, Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us when we walk together.

Jesus is with us even when we do not recognize him.  He is with us in the stranger who shares our journey.

He is with us when we are doubting, discouraged or in despair.

He is with us even when we are walking in completely the wrong direction, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, walking away from the amazing things that God was doing in Jerusalem…

 

Second, Jesus is with us when we open the scriptures together.  It is wonderful when we experience that sense of God speaking to us in the words of the Bible and we, too, can say: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke with on the road?’

We can learn about God from the living Word of God in the Bible.  We learn best and we learn most when we learn from each other, when we interpret the story of our lives in the light of the story of salvation. Just as Jesus interpreted the experience of the disciples as he opened the scriptures to them.

 

Third, Jesus is with us in the breaking of bread.

Many Churches teach and many Christians believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of communion.  What we must remember about that teaching of the real presence is that Jesus is present in the whole action of the Eucharist.  He is not just present in the bread and wine; he is present in our gathering, in our thanking, in our praising, in our sharing, in our responding, in our receiving.  But it is not what we are doing that makes him present, his presence in the sacrament of communion is his gift of himself – it is the free gift of grace.  He is with us because this is his table, he is the host, he is the one who invites us to come to him to receive.  We are the Lord’s people, gathered around the Lord’s table, on the Lord’s day.

 

Fourth, Jesus is with us in our proclamation of his life and love.  Just as those disciples on the Emmaus Road rushed back to Jerusalem to share the good news and to share their joy, so are we sent out each week to proclaim the gospel in word and deed.  The service ends with the word ‘Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia. Alleluia!’  Jesus is with us as we share our faith.

What little faith we have to share, it is enough; the little confidence we have to share it, it is enough.  The gospel of Jesus is a call to joy and simplicity of life.  The gift of the Taizé Community is that it shows us how we might do that.  The little we have is enough.  So let us remember that we, too, are sent out to experience the joy of sharing the story of our faith in Jesus.

Jesus, the risen Christ is with us:

With us when we walk together in friendship;

With us when we open the Bible together and listen and learn from each other;

With us when we break bread;

With us when we share our faith and make God’s love known.

Jesus, the risen Christ is with us.  Alleluia. Amen.

The Storyteller – A sermon for Easter Day

Monday, April 17th, 2017

The Storyteller

Sermon for Easter Day 2017

 

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a storyteller.

He told beautiful but simple stories that touched the souls, warmed the hearts and sparked the imaginations of all who heard them.

He told his stories with wonderful words and a sharp wit.  He told his stories with a look of love and a gentle touch.  He told his stories with his actions so that sometimes it seemed as if his whole life were itself the truest kind of story.

His stories touched and transformed people. All sorts of people came to hear them.  He called them to come to him, he invited them to come closer…

‘Come to me, all you that are weary, come and rest a while.  Come to me and lay down your burdens, forget your worries, let go your sense of shame.  Come to me and listen…’

And as he told his stories it was like his words created something out of nothing; it was as if he made the whole world new again.  When he had finished speaking and people had finished drinking it all in, they went away refreshed.  People left walking taller, feeling freer, and knowing that they were OK.  Those who had come feeling left out or excluded, knew that they belonged.  Those who came feeling guilty, left knowing they were forgiven. Those who were wronged, went home feeling put right with the world.  And he did all with his words, and his gentle touch and a look of deep compassion.

 

But, as every storyteller knows, every story has a problem.  And the problem was that not everybody liked the storyteller’s stories… not everybody liked the storyteller.

His stories of a world turned upside down didn’t appeal to those who lived on the upside of the world.  They liked their place in the existing story.  They didn’t like stories that undermined their power and position.  They didn’t like their authority questioned.  So they authored a new plot line, based on betrayal, denial, and false accusations.  A plot that turned on violence and suffering and ended in death.

It turned the tale of the storyteller into a tragedy.  The storyteller’s enemies brought their plot to fruition and wrote their alternative ending.  And so it was that the storyteller died and there was nothing that those who loved his stories could do about it.

The End.

 

 

And yet, as in all the best stories, the storyteller’s story has an unexpected twist.  You see, as you probably all know, stories have a life of their own!

Those who had lived alongside the storyteller and all who had listened to and loved his stories found that the stories lived in them.  They found that they, too, could tell the stories; they, too, could bring a gentle touch and a look of love.  The stories were so vivid and brought such vitality that sometimes it was beyond doubt that the storyteller was telling the stories in person – even if they did not recognize him at first.

It would be wrong to say that they all lived happily ever after… true stories don’t usually resolve that way.  The storyteller being with them again was not a happy ending, it was a joyful beginning.  The story teller being alive did not mean that his betrayal, suffering and death never happened.  Rather, this was a whole new story being told within them and amongst them, it was the living words of the storyteller and his stories bringing a new creation into being.  No longer once upon a time, in land far way, but now and here, his story lives and works in us; the storyteller’s words and touch and compassion are at work in us.  For goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.

The beginning. Alleluia! Amen.