Sunday, May 25, 2014

Easter 6 (A)-Sermon

Sixth Sunday after Easter-Sermon
5/25/14-Year A

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 

Ma nishtana ha lyla ha zeh mikkol hallaylot? [Why is this night different from all other nights?] These words begin the Jewish Seder meal and are spoken by the youngest member of the family. They are a call to order so to speak of all that will transpire on that Passover night. This call to order, this call to remember is mirrored not only by the other questions that will follow it, but will be seen in the meal itself. A meal of matzah bread only, of bitter herbs dipped in salt water, and roasted lamb. The meal accompanied by the questions and their answers not only tell the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt’s hands, but reenacts it. So important is this question to the Seder that even if one was forced to celebrate it alone, he is to ask and answer the question himself. Because the night of the passover, and the night of its remembrance is truly unlike any other night. It is a meal of haste, a meal of bitterness, a meal of celebration, and a meal of victory. In participating in the Seder the people participate in the story of Israel’s redemption from the bondage to slavery. In keeping the words and the story of that sacred night, Israel shows her love for God’s deliverance. 

Now why am I talking about passover? Dear Pastor, some of you might be thinking, has lost it again. He’s lost track of time, doesn’t he remember Passover was about 6 weeks ago, and we’re long past that! It’s Easter, actually the 6th Sunday of Easter with 2 more to go and I can reassure you that I haven’t lost it. I bring up the seder and the meal of remembrance because though we have not traveled back in time, our gospel readings have so to speak. The words we hear from our Lord this morning are not words of the resurrection. They are not words spoken by Jesus on the shore or in the locked room, but rather they are spoken in the upper room on the night of His betrayal. It is Jesus gathered together with His disciples to remember why that night is different from all other nights, but not in the way they normally would have. It is a night that He would reinterpret the passover meal, making it a new meal with a new focus. Taking into his holy, precious, and yet to be pierced hands bread and a cup, He makes it a new passover meal, one of His own sacrifice. This is my body. This is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me. That Passover night, Jesus made it different from all other Passover nights, because He gave to them not the sacrifice of an earthly lamb, but the sacrifice of himself for them, for Israel, and for all. 

But the meal of remembrance, the meal of Christ’s haste, bitterness, celebration and victory was not the only thing different about that night than from all other nights. For it was filled, as St. John records for us, His final words to His disciples. They are the last and most important things that He wished to tell them about Himself, and about discipleship in His name. Not only did He give to them His body and blood, He washed His feet and gave to them a new commandment one that until now had not been heard before. Love one another, as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Here our Lord speaks old words, but makes them new. To love one another had been known throughout Israel’s life and faith, but Jesus as he is known to do intensifies this love, not to love one another as best we are able, but to love one another as Christ has loved us. The new command to love is to love one another with the very love of God. A command insurmountable to our weakened sinful flesh. A command that is the divine goal for our lives, but one that we always and forever will fall short of. 

This He knew, and thus a new commandment was not all that He spoke of that night different from all other nights. For it was also filled with words of promise and of gospel to the apostolic band on the eve of their sorrows. I am going to prepare a place for you. I will take you to myself. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I will give you the Helper to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. The world will not see me, but you will see me. Here in Easter 6, we remember as we stand on the verge of Pentecost Sunday that all that Jesus spoke of that night, different from all other nights, is fulfilled. That his promise to the Church has been fulfilled. The Helper came with sound of rushing wind and of flames of fire. In Him the Church has been made alive and blessed with faith and new life in Jesus Christ. He has given to us, His disciples these 2000 years later that same faith with the same gifts, not orphans abandoned by Christ, but by the Spirit’s power adopted as sons and daughters of the Father of Jesus, and brothers and sisters of our Lord. Baptized into the name of God, into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church empowered by the Holy Spirit remembers, truly remembers Christ and His salvation. 
It is why each Sunday we take bread and wine, as Christ took bread and wine, and celebrate that night different from all other nights and that Passover meal different from all the other Passover meals that had come before it. Each week we are called to remember through this holy and life giving meal all that our Lord has done for us, and the depth of love that he has for us. Such love that willingly and freely sacrifices Himself for the sake of us, for Israel, and for all the world. In the meal we participate and make present the story of God’s love for us, His redemption through the offering of His Son, and the unity, the communion we now have with God. In the celebration of the meal of Jesus, the eucharistic feast of victory, the Church shows her love for God’s redemption and for His word. Christ’s meal lovingly given to us, is the very meal of our celebration and love for God, by keeping it in remembrance of Him and with the eyes of faith given by the Helper, we see Jesus present before us. 

This is how Jesus’ words “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” can truly be understood. It isn’t a legalism that Jesus demands of his disciples if “x”, then “y”. For we cannot love Christ, except for the love by which He has loved and redeemed us. It is His victory that becomes our victory. It is His meal that becomes our meal. It is His death and resurrection, that becomes our death and resurrection. It is His love that becomes our love. It is His forgiveness that becomes our forgiveness. It is His Spirit, that creates in us clean and right spirits. It is His life that becomes our life. Thus we keep, treasure, His commandments by celebrating His feast and all that he has done for us. For we can never participate enough in communion with God and we can never remember enough why this meal, the Sunday, is different from all other days. The day of His love, His victory, and our union with God a foretaste of the banquet that awaits us in heaven. 

Though our Lord’s meal is the highest and most important celebration and meal of remembrance the Church can ever have, it is more than likely not the only celebratory meal that we will have this weekend. This weekend is undoubtedly filled with vacation plans, and barbecues. An extra day given from the rest from our daily toils. Yet Monday, Memorial Day, is not unlike the Lord’s day in that it is given for the purpose of remembrance. The meal tomorrow or today with family and friends is a good celebration, but it lacks its purpose if it is not accompanied by a call and word to remember. Like the Seder, we to might want to ask of ourselves and our nation, why this Monday is different from all other Monday’s. As citizens of the Kingdom of God keep before us always the memory of God’s love and sacrifice for us upon the Cross. As citizens of this land, far below the majesty and splendor of God’s kingdom, we still ought keep before us the the memory of those who have given their last full measure of devotion for our country and for our earthly liberty. It is a day for us Christians to render unto caesar, so to speak, the respect and honor and thanksgiving that is due to our fellow brothers and sisters, those who have died defending our nation and those who still suffer from the tragedies and wounds of war. Let it be a day to keep their memory alive in your own hearts and families as you share the stories of loved ones who have served. Let it be a day to lament war and pray for Christ to come and make all wars cease. Let it be a day to honor and pray for those who continue to serve our nation. Let it be a day and a meal, to remember and hope for the peace of Christ to reign throughout the world.


Easter 5 (A)-Sermon

Fifth Sunday of Easter 
5/18/14–Year A

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

  Who are we? If we think about it that might seem to be a relatively odd question or at least one that we rarely consider. The more popular question in our age of self-fulfillment and self-discovery is “who am I?” This is a central question for modernity on our fool-hardy quest to know ourselves better. Yet it is the question that drives our age and at least has a central place within each age group we find ourselves in. As children we wish to know who we are apart from the other kids on the play ground. As we grow older kids segment themselves into groups. They identify as jocks, nerds, artsy or theater types. They look for an identity that they can cling to and yet can share with a common group of those like them. In college those groups become majors and we likely have heard kids say, “I’m pre-med” or I’m a music major.” Out of college those majors become the companies or industries that we work for more often than not  unrelated to our college degrees. As some get married and have a family they take up new answers to the question, “I’m a mother.” “I’m a grandfather.” Though even as adults some of us of a certain generation still find an answer to the question in the play of our youth, with depend voice and lowered brow we announce, “I’m Batman.”

As Christians, we have another set of answers to that question that identifies us not from within ourselves, but from without. As Luther once said that when the devil tempts you proclaim with all boldness, “I’m baptized.” Each of us washed in the water of the font are proclaimed by God as His baptized sons and daughters. Each of us who confess Christ, who believe in Him are called Christians, washed by His saving sacrifice. His death and His resurrection from the dead give us the hope and faith to believe and confess “I am a Christian.” I am saved. I am redeemed. I am forgiven by the One who can forgive sins. Each of us have a strong sense of our individual identity in Christ. We know who we are as individuals in relation to Him.  I am His. 

Yet that is not the question with which I began. I asked who are WE, because I wonder at times if we know who WE are. We often over look the very communal nature of the Christian faith. We overlook that the life of faith is not simply a me and Jesus alone sort of a thing. Yes we are individually baptized into His name, but we are also baptized into His body, His bride, His Church. The Apostle Peter has a rather definite answer to this question, an answer that I’m not sure many of us would acknowledge or accept, yet one that is biblically true. As you come to him…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. A holy and royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chosen race, this is God’s answer to the question of who we are as the body that gathers together in His name.

We gather on every Lord’s Day as the Church to be a holy and royal priesthood and to offer to God through Jesus Christ our spiritual sacrifices. Borrowing from Exodus, the apostle, brings forth this imagery that was to be the destiny of Israel. The Lord proclaims in Ex 19 that she would “be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” For Peter what has been done by Christ in giving new and everlasting life to His sons and daughters and calling forth His body the Church, God has now fulfilled what He promised long ago. That we together are now His royal and holy priesthood. 

We fulfill this very word of God to Moses in the Exodus and the very identity that St. Peter describes for us when we worship God in Christ and offer up to Him our  spiritual sacrifices. For that is what priests do, but these offerings are not for the forgiveness of sin. They do not win us God’s favor or by them do we gain brownie points in the Kingdom. For there is only one sacrifice that restores man to communion with God, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone could offer to the Father the one and only sacrifice to restore humanity from the pit of death and to forgive sins. Christ’s life-giving sacrifice is the once-for-all, true, complete, and eternal offering of Himself to the Father on our behalf. Dying in our place, so that we might rise with Him in His. There is nothing, not one thing, that we can add to what Christ has done for us. We can not save ourselves, but only trust in the mercy of Christ and His salvation that He freely gives to us. For there is nothing that we can offer to God that is without the taint of our sin. As the line from the Eucharistic Prayer makes abundantly clear, “we give thanks, not as we ought, but as we are able.” We can only give thanks and offer up our spiritual sacrifices to God through the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ who redeems our brokenness, who lifts up our prayers with His own to the Father in the heavenly temple. 

So what are these spiritual sacrifices that Peter urges us to give? The liturgy is filled with these moments where we as act as priests, chiefly we see that in the offering. There we give to God, as the ordinary prayer says, “what He has first given us ourselves, our time, and our possessions signs of His gracious love.” The offering plate is not big enough to contain all of what is meant by our offering. It is not to be the check alone that we put into the plate, but it is ourselves, our gifts and talents, our hearts, our very lives that we offer to Him. It is rather easy to cut a check and be done, but God calls us to more than that. He calls us to live with Him in His kingdom in all innocence, righteousness, and blessedness. 
As a kingdom of priests, then we live each day and especially on the Lord’s day offering to Him what He is due, not just what is in our wallets, but our very selves in lives, songs, and hearts of thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done.  This is why the communion part of the liturgy is called the Great Thanksgiving, the Great Eucharistia, as we lift our hearts to the Lord and give thanks for all that He has done. 

Not only then do we serve as priests offering up our thanks and praise for what God has done, but there is also another dimension to our priesthood that we rarely think about. We also serve as priests to the world. When we pray the Kyrie, we pray for the peace of the whole world, because we have come from the world and live in the world. We come to worship God, carrying the world with us and what we have gone through in the past week. We bring with us the brokenness of the world and all that has transpired in these last days, the wildfires, the kidnapping of 276 girls from Nigeria, the death sentence of a Christian woman, the loss of a job, the diagnosis received, the heart broken, the family in need, the poor and suffering. We carry all of these things from the world into the temple of God and through Christ offer up our prayers for the world. We come to the place, in the words of Alexander Schmeman, “where the world is done right,”—where life, peace, love, and joy reign in the Kingdom of God—to intercede for a world not done right, broken by sin. In this we act as the priests of the world, bringing into God’s house the very problems of the world to be healed and redeemed by God. 

One of the complaints that people often make about coming to Church is that “they don’t get anything out of it.” To which I usually have two responses: First, is to ask them whether or not they heard that their sins were forgiven and whether they received Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. If the answer is yes to both of those questions, then I ask to make sure they want to stay with their original complaint. For if having received the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, and Jesus Christ the Lord and God of the universe is not “getting anything out of it”, I’m not sure what exactly could please them. Second, is to ask what did they bring or offer in worship to God in Christ. If they don’t participate in the liturgy, sing the hymns, offer the prayers and add their loud “amens” (which is something we need to work on), but just rather sit there and wait to be entertained, well there are many many better places to do that then at Church. Because to be at church and to be the Church is to come, be active and engaged in that very task of offering prayers and spiritual sacrifices to the God who has given us everything. Who has freely called and chosen us to be His royal priesthood, His holy nation, and His chosen people in the world. 

Having received everything from God, He then sends you back as priests out into the world, to be in it, but not of it and to proclaim that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He sends us to declare His wonderful deeds. Luther talked about this in His preaching and teaching as the priesthood of all believers. You are made by God to be little Christ’s in the world, no matter your station, no matter your vocation, because you carry Him with you. His word Has been spoken upon your lives, that you are His forever, and His very live, His body and blood is in you in Holy Communion, you are now called and made by the Spirit’s power to be His witnesses to the ends of the world. To offer up prayers for others at work or at home. To walk with someone in need and offer up our the spiritual sacrifice of ourselves, our time, and our possessions for them. Because that is what God in Christ is making RLC to be, for we are His, people His Church, His Spiritual House, His Holy and Royal Priesthood all by complete grace to live and serve with our Great-High Priest Jesus Christ in His Kingdom.       

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  



Easter 4 (A)-Sermon

Fourth Sunday of Easter- Sermon
5/11/14- Year A

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!

This morning we come to Good Shepherd Sunday, always the 4th Sunday of Easter on the Church’s lectionary calendar, and I admit I’m always a bit reticent to preach on this Good Shepherd Sunday. It is undoubtedly the most popular image of our Lord depicted throughout Christian Art and iconography. The image of Christ the Good Shepherd is so popular within Christianity that if the world knows anything about Jesus its likely that they know and remember Him as the Good Shepherd. They’ve seen the windows or the icons, and they’ve heard the psalm depicting His relationship to His people, The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want. For these reasons, one might think that preaching Good Shepherd’s Sunday is a joy, and let me assure you it is! It is truly good news and another sign of His love and compassion for us. There is much joy in preaching of Him who leads us beside the still waters of the font, and prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies in the Eucharistic Meal. I am not reticent about proclaiming and heralding that He is indeed our Good Shepherd, but rather about what that means for us: it means we’re sheep. 

We more than likely know sheep are not the brightest of God’s critters. Yes they may look sweet and innocent, wooly and cuddly, because that is about all there is to them. Sheep if they get caught it a fence will not work to free themselves, but rather will stay there until the worst happens. Sheep are not the likely candidates to win nature’s survival of the fittest contest. They rather quickly and easily fall prey to the wolf. For sheep have no natural defense against predators who seek to steal, kill or destroy them, except for two things 1) being faster than sheep next to them, and 2) the crook of the shepherd watching over them. Being called sheep, isn’t really a boost to our self-confidence. Humanity, the height and pinnacle of creation, the top of the food chain with big brains and opposable thumbs, are God’s dumb sheep. In a culture built on self-affirmation, self-confidence, and self-esteem Good Shepherd Sunday comes like a steamroller every Easter to humble us and flatten our self-interest, self-security, and our sense of self-importance. For though we think we are mighty we are no better in the eyes of God, in the eyes of Christ than sheep. 

Fortunately though, despite their inability to defend themselves against the wolves and their tiny brains roughly 10% the weight of and about 1/3 the size of ours, sheep do have at least two redeeming quality, besides being tasty. Back in Iowa, I knew a couple of shepherds and one of them, a trusted friend, told me that sheep are actually quite good in their ability to hear. They can discern their own shepherd’s voice from any other voice in a crowd. For instance, if there were two shepherds calling to their flocks who were mixed together in the pasture land, the sheep would actually be able to discern which voice was their own shepherd’s, separate from the other sheep and follow him. They can easily discern the voice of their shepherd’s because it is familiar to them, one that they’ve heard ever-since they were a little lamb. 

How fitting then that this Good Shepherd Sunday falls upon the culture’s celebration of Mothers, because it is that ability to hear a voice and discern whose it is that we humans and the sheep find their true connection. I think all it would take is but a few seconds for most of us to close our eyes and think of our mothers an instantaneously hear her voice. Perhaps she is saying that saying that she always said. Perhaps it is the voice of her calling us by name, or by two names, or feeling the anxiety build our first middle and last names. Perhaps we hear that voice speak a word of love to us, and for some, unfortunately, the voice of their mother is burned into their memories, but for other reasons. But a good mother like, The Good Shepherd, speaks words of tenderness that become a transformative and definite sound wave pattern imprinted upon our brains, and branded onto our hearts. For like sheep, the kids lost in the moment at Disneyland always know which voice is there mother’s calling to them.  

Hearing isn’t the only redeemable trait that sheep have, there is still one more. Sheep not only have a natural ability to hear and to discern voices, but they also have an innate proclivity to follow. Sheep are natural followers. If one goes, they all go. If the shepherd calls, they follow. For sheep hearing and following go hand in hand. They naturally respond to the commands of the shepherd. They step where he steps. They go where He leads. Humanity does the same, though more often than not rarely is it the voice a Shepherd that we follow. For as we know the world is filled with many loud and clanging voices attractive, appealing, and alluring. Not only is the world filled with such noise constantly surrounding us, we are also constantly burdened with the sound of our own neurotic voice as well. Indeed we are all too quick to replace our Lord’s voice with our own or with another’s. Because sin has so disordered our hearts and lives we sheep are quickly fooled, stolen, deceived, killed, and destroyed by these other voices. We like our four legged companions are defenseless. 

Defenseless against ourselves and defenseless against the voices of the world Christ our Good Shepherd knows we need His crook and His voice to shelter and protect us. Thus, He never stops speaking to us. For He has given His word to us to hear and to be shaped by. He has given us His sacraments, His very life as a constant voice to the sheep: you are mine, you are beloved, here I call you by name to save and redeem you. Our Lord speaks to us this morning, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  An image that John’s gospel beautifully depicts as our Resurrected Lord, calls the mourning Mary by name, and at once she knows who exactly is speaking to her, and follows Jesus from grief to unending joy, from death to abundant life. 

It is that abundant life that Christ bids us and gives to us in His Word to hear and by it to keep ourselves within the comfort and safety of His pasture. How else do the sheep know the shepherd’s voice or the young child his mothers?  But that they’ve heard and listened to it over and over and over again.  It is so familiar to them that nothing could be confused with it. So too must God’s holy Word, the true and loving voice of Jesus Christ become for us that we can not mistake it for anything else. Through the noise of the world, Christ speaks so that we might hone in on that one lone voice who calls us by name and go where He leads and follow like sheep. It is the very reason we stand and sing and herald the Gospel’s reading, “Lord to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.”  Because there are no other words, no other voice that gives us life, but His. He alone is the gate. He alone is the door. He alone is the True Good Shepherd through whom alone we have eternal and abundant life.  

Alleluia!  Christ is risen.  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia! 


Easter 3 (A) Sermon

Third Sunday of Easter–Sermon 
5/1/14–Year A

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

The two disciples leave Jerusalem Easter evening with their heads hung low. Feeling the shame and disbelief of what they had witnessed. Skeptical of the talk of women and even more skeptical of the other disciples who seem to affirm what the women had told them. They sense shame and failing at the possibility of what could have been a better deliverance, a better messiah, a better Jesus. So they leave and depart. They need to escape Jerusalem and go for a walk to clear their heads. Luke doesn't give us the reason for their sojourn, but telling us their words and their mannerisms, standing still and looking sad, they are walking away from Jerusalem as defeated losers. There in their sorrows a stranger approaches them. One who looks like a good candidate to share their laments with, for it is true that misery loves company. How else can you describe the Chicago Cubs fan base? Only about 30 games into the season and they’re already in last place! And as we all like to do when in a funk, whether Cubs fans or the disciples on their way to Emmaus, we like to find someone else in the same state and complain together. Surely they must have thought that the unsuspecting stranger on the road would join in their venting. Seeing him on that very same road, they undoubtedly must be thinking that he is leaving Jerusalem the same way they are. Dejected, depressed, and disillusioned with Jesus and his "revolution."

  What they had hoped to find in a companion to share their complaints and grievances with is not what they encountered. In fact, they find the exact opposite. Instead of someone to share the horrible news of what happened with, they met a man who shared with them Good News. Instead of someone to complain to, they met someone who wouldn't complain at all, except maybe about them. Instead of finding a fellow compatriot to drown their sorrows with, they encountered a stranger who silenced their dejected attitude with food. On the road of their own sorrows they are not met by a fellow man of sorrows, but rather by Jesus. The one who makes eyes to open, hearts to burn with zeal, and hope to overturn despair. And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Jesus opens to them the Scriptures. He told them how the Christ would suffer, be killed, and on the third day be raised, according to those same scriptures. When all they can see is darkness, He shows them that the Word of God is indeed a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. 

Yet a bible study was not enough for them to recognize who they were talking to. Certainly their hearts were burning as he retold Salvation History to them and how it all was fulfilled in Himself. Yet they still could not see him. As far as they know it could have been another disciple whom they hadn't met. While wanting to know more and hear more from this man, they invite him to stay with them. They invite him as their guest to rest for the night, and then continue on their journey the next morning. Now normally, it is usually the host who makes sure their guests are provided for. It is his or her responsibility to see that the needs of the guests are met, including room and board. In this instance it is the guest, the invited companion who provides for their sustenance, not only physically, but spiritually. When they were at table, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. It is in those four verbs, the four verbs of the miraculous feedings of five and four thousand and the four verbs of the Last Supper that at once their eyes were opened. In the sacred act and ritual of Jesus’ communion with them, His fellowship and breaking of the bread they immediately recognize the act and the man who had done them before. In the “eucharisted bread” Jesus gives them eyes to see that He is the risen Lord and God. Through the Word and in the Sacrament they believe and run with great joy to confess themselves the Easter proclamation.   

The disciples encounter on the road to Emmaus, becomes not only another resurrection appearance of our Lord in the gospels, but the very foundation of the Church’s life with Jesus Christ. Justin Martyr, the namesake of my own Justin, wrote to the pagan emperor Antonius around the year AD 155 describing to him the life of the early Church. He wrote, "On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. ...Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks that we have been judged worth of these gifts.  When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying, 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent."  Listening closely to our morning's gospel lesson we see little difference between what those two wandering disciples encountered on their road to Emmaus and Justin’s description of the worship life of the early church. Indeed, we see little difference between the road to Emmaus, the early Church, and our own worship this Easter Sunday morning. 

For I would wager to bet that some of us, who have driven here this morning have come from places of our own despair, dejection, and disillusionment with life and the things that we see in the world, maybe even by what we see in the Church. Our lives are filled with those moments of grief and depression. We may even find those moments where we cannot for one reason or another see or perceive Jesus at all in our lives. Whether from the doctor’s diagnosis, the failing grade, the pink slip, the culture falling away from the pillars which once made it blossom, the reality ever looming war and global conflict that seems to be coming, the evil that is perpetrated upon the Church both from without and within, the company moving halfway across the country, or the heart broken by pain, we journey on roads to Emmaus all the time. So much so that one commentator has noted, that the Road to Emmaus, is any road or path we take to get away from the harsh reality of life. It might be the road some of us are on this morning and here we find ourselves, we find the Church’s worship just like what Jesus did on that road so many years ago. For here His word is opened and salvation History lays before us. Here we see and hear how Jesus has truly fulfilled Moses and all the prophets. Here He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to us and in the consecrated bread and wine we behold Jesus, our resurrected Lord and God. What we sometimes might fail to miss in the readings, or the pastor fails to get across in the sermon, Jesus makes up for never failing to reveal to us His mercy, His grace, His love for us in the bread and wine of His body and blood. Jesus is known to us on our own road of sorrows in the breaking of bread. To see Jesus as Lord and God is to behold him in the breaking of bread. 

Here in this communion meal, He gladdens hearts, he opens eyes, He makes hope overcome despair. He uplifts us disciples, forgiving our sins, strengthening our faith, and giving us everlasting life. Where we cannot see Jesus in the world, because of the world, here we can never fail to see Him and His mercy. Here our Easter joy is confirmed, pledged, and renewed week by week. Lord’s day after Lord’s day, just as it has been since the very beginning of the first Easter. Having heard from Jesus in the Word and seeing Him in Holy Communion you and I are sent with His joy to believe and confess with the whole Church that Christ is indeed risen. And to share the joy and zeal in your own hearts as the Lord God of the universe has stooped down to place his very life in your hands. For He is risen and reigns to all eternity and He is with us. Never leaving us to our sadness. Never leaving us to despair. But makes us to share in the song of the angels: Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!