Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 1 May 2022 - The Emmaus Road

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 1 May 2022

Opening Words:  
This is the good news
The grave is empty – Christ is risen
This is the good news
The light shines in the darkness
And the darkness can never put it out.
This is the good news
Christ is alive - and the world can rejoice again

Song:  Come now is the time to worship

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Opening Prayer
Living God, Father of all,
We worship you today with joy in our hearts 
and thanksgiving on our lips.
When the powers of evil had done their worst,
Crucifying your Son and burying him in death,
You raised him to life again: 
an act of power giving hope to the world.

Lord Jesus,
We rejoice that death could not keep you in its grip;
That you were raised to life, alive for evermore.
You greeted your friends and now you stand amongst us
In your risen power.

Spirit of God,
You are always giving life to the people of God,
giving birth to children of God.
Remodel us in the image of Jesus, fill us with his love
and enable us with his risen power, that we might be
faithful to his way and used by you in the redeeming of your world.

For we ask these prayers in the name of Jesus, Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 53: 1 – 6  

Prayer of confession
Loving God, we thank you that you loved us so much that you gave us your one and only son Jesus to die for us and to set us free from all our sin.
And we thank you that when you look upon us,
you see not our sin, our selfishness and our mixed motives
but a child who trusts in Jesus – and who in Jesus is made whole.

But Lord, we know that though you love us just as we are
You still long for us to become holy as your Son was holy.
And so now in the quiet we bring before you our own prayers of confession, trusting that in your great mercy you will cleanse us and make us new.


Jesus Christ, our Saviour bore our sins and carried our sorrows.  The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. 
So know that your sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and rejoice in his goodness and grace.  Amen

Song:  Lord I come to you (The power of your love)

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Reading:  Luke 24: 13 – 27 

Reflection:  They did not recognize him
It was the day after the Sabbath.  Two of Jesus’ followers were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  And they were talking … talking about all the things that had happened in the last few days … the arrest of Jesus … his crucifixion … his burial.   And then that extraordinary incident that very morning, when the women had gone to the tomb and found it empty … and had seen angels … so they said … who claimed that Jesus was alive!  It made no sense - they did not know what to make of any of it.

There was no way that Jesus could be alive, surely.   Yes, the tomb was empty … but maybe somebody had stolen the body. Yes, the angels had said Jesus was alive … but had the women really seen angels, or were they just imagining things … No, they would not … could not … believe that Jesus was alive.

Well, it is as these two dejected followers are trudging sadly home to Emmaus that Jesus joins them and asks them what they’re talking about.  

Amazingly the followers do not recognize him.  How could that be? 

Well, maybe because they just weren’t expecting to see Jesus on the Emmaus Road - so when he turned up they just didn’t recognize him.

When I’m in the hairdressers I sometimes pick up one of those glossy “hello” type magazines.  And in these magazines there are always pictures of celebrities going shopping or picking up their kids from school  … and these celebrities look so ordinary … without the help of make-up artists, they have grey, blotchy skin and bags round the eyes like the rest of us … and without airbrushing they have rolls round their middle and fat ankles like the rest of us.  They’re just ordinary … so ordinary that I suspect I could walk past someone like Victoria Beckham or Nicole Kidman and not even recognize them.  Now I would recognize them, if they were posing on a red carpet somewhere - because that’s where I would expect to see them … but if they were buying deodorant in Superdrug, I probably wouldn’t - because I wouldn’t  expect to see them there.

And the two followers did not expect to see Jesus - a man they believed to be dead - wandering along a road seven miles from Jerusalem - so they did not recognize him.

But maybe they also didn’t recognize him because they were just too distracted.  Their minds were far away - they were upset, confused, grief stricken - so locked up in their own worries and concerns that they could not see what was in front of their own eyes.  And that happens to us as well doesn’t it … if we’re worried about something then we just don’t notice what is going on all around us … someone can be talking to us and we just won’t hear them.  So maybe they were just too distracted by their own grief and misery.

Whatever it was – the two followers did not recognize Jesus.

And there is a challenge for us here.

How often do we fail to recognize Jesus when he tries to speak to us – how often are we oblivious to the presence of God around us?  

It could be that we don’t expect Jesus to speak to us – except perhaps in church.  So when he speaks through a neighbour or the person sat next to us on the bus or the “Big Issue” salesman – we simply miss it.  Or it could be that we are simply too distracted to hear him – we’re worried about our health – or we’re busy with other things – and we simply don’t make the time to sit down quietly and allow Jesus to speak.  

Jesus does speak but we don’t always hear.  Jesus does answer our prayers, but we don’t always notice.  Jesus does visit us through the chance meeting with a stranger, but we don’t always recognize him.   Are we, like the followers on the road to Emmaus, just too distracted and busy with other things?

Song:  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

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Reading:  Luke 24: 28 – 35

Reflection: God in the ordinary 
Jesus begins to talk to the two disciples and to open up the scriptures – to explain to them why it was that Jesus had to die.  And as he talks their hearts begin to burn within them.  It’s getting late and they urge the stranger to stay with them and to share their evening meal.

So Jesus stays and when he is sitting at table with them, he takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them.  And at this their eyes are opened and in that moment they recognize the risen Jesus.  And in that moment the two followers are changed – transformed.   No longer doubting and miserable they walk all the way back to Jerusalem – another 7 miles – to tell the gathered disciples that it really is true – Jesus is risen. 

In that simple, ordinary and so familiar act of blessing and breaking bread – they finally recognize the risen Jesus.

And here is Good News.  

For too often there is the tendency to look for Jesus in the spectacular or the unusual – the big multi-media Christian event – the miraculous healing – the word of prophecy.  And when we are not healed, or we’re not slain in the Spirit, or we can’t speak in tongues, we begin to doubt that we have encountered Jesus at all.  We find ourselves perplexed, confused like the followers on the road to Emmaus.  

That’s why this story is so important.  For these two very ordinary followers, Cleopas and his friend did not see visions of angels – they encountered Jesus in two very familiar things – the reading of scripture and the breaking of bread.  And still today, these two familiar things - the reading of Scripture and the breaking of bread - are the two key ways in which we encounter the risen Christ.

Firstly, the reading of Scripture … if we want to encounter the living Christ – we need to be reading the Bible on a regular basis.   Psalm 19 puts it like this …

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. 
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. 
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  
The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; 
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 
By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 

Reading the scriptures regularly - revives our soul, gives joy to the heart, gives light to the eyes, shows us what is right and helps us to grow in wisdom.  Moreover, the words of scripture are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey - and if we obey them – then we will find great reward.

So clearly if we’re not regularly reading God’s word – then we’re missing out.

And secondly, we also encounter the risen Christ in the breaking of bread – Holy Communion - this familiar ritual in which we share bread and wine together as the church – the body of Christ.  Holy Communion is a sacrament - “it is the outward sign of an invisible grace”.  When we receive these familiar and ordinary things – the bread and the wine – something happens to us - something invisible and life transforming.  

Jesus said, as he shared bread and wine at his last meal with the disciples, “Do this to remember me.”  It is the means, chosen and instituted by Jesus himself, by which each of us can encounter the living Christ.

On the evening of that first Easter Day, Jesus opened the scriptures and broke bread with two of his disciples – and they were transformed - through familiar, ordinary things … 

And for us too … it is receiving the bread and the wine, it is singing familiar songs, it is saying the Lord’s Prayer, it is hearing well-known passages of scripture … it is these familiar ordinary things … that can draw us into the presence of Jesus – and renew our experience of the living Christ.  Nothing spectacular - just ordinary familiar things.

And so we pray that as we meet in worship together – as we  open the scriptures and break bread together, we will find our hearts strangely warmed and our lives transformed – so that each of us may know that “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!”

Let us pray …
Loving God, we thank you that you love us and want to share our lives with us. And we thank you that we can meet you in the scriptures and in the breaking of bread. Help us in our daily lives not to become distracted by many things but to expect to hear you speaking to us.

As we read the Scriptures, may we be ready to hear the Word which speaks to our own situation, whatever that word may be.
As we sit in silence help us to hear your “still small voice” and give us the courage to act upon what we hear.
And as we go about our daily work help us to recognize your word, when it is spoken to us, whatever the place or occasion  and however strange the messenger.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name.   Amen.

Song:  Lord of all hopefulness (Tune:  Slane)

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Prayers for Others
Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road,  we talk together Lord about the recent news, news that we hear on our televisions and read in the newspapers.  We pray about those events in the world that are in the news today …

Join us in our conversations Lord
Make your presence known in the world.
Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us

Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, we talk together Lord about people we know, sharing in their joys and their sorrows.  We hear of illness, anxiety and death. We pray for those whom we know who are suffering in any way …

Join us in our conversations Lord
Make your presence known in the world.
Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us

Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, we talk together Lord about our faith in you. We pray for the worship in our church, for the deepening of our faith, for the spreading of your Good News …

Join us in our conversations Lord
Make your presence known in the world.
Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us

Lord, you talk to us, walk with us, break bread with us
And constantly surprise us with the eternal power of your resurrection, which brings Good News from bad, health from sickness, life from death and joy from sorrow.

And so we bring these prayers in confidence, in the name of him who travels with us along every road, our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Song:  Christ triumphant ever reigning

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The Blessing
May the love of the risen Jesus draw you to himself;
May the power of the risen Jesus strengthen you in his service;
May the joy of the risen Jesus fill your souls;
And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and abide with you always.   Amen