A Service for the Third Sunday of Easter

If you would like to see this service run in YouTube, then you can watch it here:

HYMN The Lord is risen indeed

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
Christ died to sin once for all, and now lives to God. Let us renew our resolve to have done with all that is evil and confess our sins in penitence and faith. cf Romans 6.10

Almighty God,
long-suffering and of great goodness:
I confess to you,
I confess with my whole heart
my neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments,
my wrong doing, thinking, and speaking;
the hurts I have done to others,
and the good I have left undone.
O God, forgive me, for I have sinned against you;
and raise me to newness of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE COLLECT
Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
   with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen


FIRST READING - Acts 2.14a, 36-41
In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the newly forgiven, transformed and emboldened Peter gives a passionate speech at Pentecost, proclaiming that ‘God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified’. We are told of some  3,000 people being baptised, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift open to ‘everyone whom the Lord calls to him’, to become members of the new Christian community.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them… “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptised, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

HYMN This joyful Eastertide

GOSPEL - 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 recognising 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 recognised 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.

SERMON
Our gospel reading today, found uniquely in Luke’s gospel, takes us on a journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of six to seven miles, a journey where everything changes. The timing is important, it is the morning of the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, Easter Sunday. The travellers are Cleopas and his companion, followers of Jesus, and they are on their way home. As readers of this story we know what is going to happen, we know who they will meet and that the outcome will be life changing for them and all of Jesus’ followers.

Yet we understand completely the range of emotions they are experiencing. They are sad, angry, disappointed, hurt and afraid. The man they had believed to be the Messiah has been put to death in the cruellest way by their chief priests and leaders, their hopes have been dashed. On this journey they are joined by a stranger who does not seem to understand their pain and their absorption with the events of the last three days. They are so wrapped up in their own experience that they fail to recognise him, they fail to see what is obvious. Have they forgotten that Jesus healed the physically blind and taught them about spiritual blindness, how he had explained to them about his death and his resurrection on the third day. They tell their travelling companion about their hopes, that this Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet ‘mighty in deed and word before God and all the people’, their sorrow at his death, and the glimmer of hope when the women found the empty tomb earlier that day. Have they lost some conviction at this point in time? They do not describe him as the Messiah, Son of God. They had looked to him for the redemption of Israel, did they still see this in worldly terms as overthrow of Roman authority? 

Along the road, Jesus teaches them again about the fulfilment of the scriptures, of Moses, Abraham, the messianic message that the son of God would die and rise from the dead. Sharing a meal with his fellow travellers, at the end of the journey, Jesus took the bread, broke it and gave it to them. For us he will forever be remembered and celebrated in the breaking of bread.

At that moment there was recognition in the familiar act, their eyes were opened and they knew they were in the presence of Jesus, who then vanished from their sight. How often have we been so limited by our own human expectations and experiences that we see what we want to see without opening our eyes in faith to other possibilities? Their hearts filled with this new experience, they rush back to Jerusalem to join the others, where Peter has also encountered the risen Christ, Jesus who then physically appears among them, saying ‘Peace be with you’. He invites them to touch him, he eats with them. His presence transforms them, emboldens them. It is still the evening of the same day and everything has changed. The disciples have their first experience ofJesus  post resurrection. This is not something they or we can learn from listening or reading. If we want to fly a kite, no amount of poring over the instructions will give us the feeling of the wind lifting it to the sky. A relationship with Jesus post resurrection through the Holy Spirit is a transforming experience. He walks with us always, even at the darkest of times, through anxiety, suffering and disappointment along our road to Emmaus. Marcus Borg puts it like this, ‘The risen Jesus journeys with us, whether we know it or not. There are moments when we do come to know him and to recognise him. Whether the story happened or not, Emmaus always happens. Emmaus happens again and again, this is its truth as parable.’ Luke is telling a story in which failure is followed by fulfilment, remorse by resurrection experiences, and absence followed by presence.

Christ is risen indeed.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
Let us declare our faith
in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN Now the green blade riseth

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, at this difficult time for everybody, we pray that we may not forget to give you thanks for all your blessings. Thank you for the beautiful villages we live in and for all the signs of spring in our gardens and the countryside. Thank you that we live in a country where we have plenty of food, and health and social care systems to support us in our time of need.

Lord, in your Mercy, hear our Prayer

We pray that you will be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our clergy and those who work in our parishes in this time of closed churches and congregations locked down in their home.  Thank you for the hard work of everyone who is using social media and the internet to keep us informed, inspired and comforted by online services, preaching and teaching.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your healing for those who are sick with the virus and for all who suffer with other physical or mental illnesses. We pray especially for those known to us and those on our benefice prayer list. Stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow, and help us to support our families and neighbours in their need.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Eternal father, we remember all who have died recently, giving thanks especially for the life of Ann Tomlison. We pray also for those who have died alone because of isolation requirements, and for their families who mourn them and who grieve because they could not be with them. May they all find peace in you.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

BLESSING
May Christ, who out of defeat
brings new hope and a new future,
fill you with his new life.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

HYMN Come ye faithful, raise the anthem

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the anthem,
Cleave the skies with shouts of praise;
Sing to him who found the ransom,
Ancient of eternal days,
God eternal, Word incarnate,
Whom the heaven of heaven obeys.

2 Ere he raised the lofty mountains,
Formed the seas, or built the sky,
Love eternal, free, and boundless,
Forced the Lord of life to die,
Lifted up the Prince of princes
On the throne of Calvary.

3 Now on those eternal mountains
Stands the sapphire throne, all bright,
With the ceaseless alleluias
Which they raise, the sons of light;
Sion's people tell his praises,
Victor after hard-won fight.

4 Bring your harps, and bring your incense,
Sweep the string and pour the lay;
Let the earth proclaim his wonders,
King of that celestial day;
He the Lamb once slain is worthy,
Who was dead, and lives for ay.

5 Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One,
One in love, and One in splendour,
While unending ages run. Amen.

TO END -
Regina Caeli Laetare - Tomás Luis de Victoria - VOCES8

But for something s little more cosmopolitan

Χριστός Ανέστη - Christ is Risen - Христос Воскресе - Hristos a înviat

CHRISTOS ANESTI

Christos Santikai (Greece) - Christos anesti.avi.flv

Jesus is Risen song ترنيمة: المسيح قام

Divna Ljubojevic Hristos Anesti