3rd Sunday of Easter

April 23, 2023

Lectionary Texts

Acts 2. 36-42. The crowd responds to Peter’s story of Jesus. Three thousand are baptized, and they engage in study, community, worship and service (“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers”).

Psalm 116 . God, you have saved me. Thank you! How can I give thanks? I will celebrate your goodness in worship with the community of faith.

1 Peter 1.17-23. Though the culture trains us in unfruitful ways of living we have been set free from them by the loving self-giving (the “blood”) of Christ. We are “born anew,” and in this new life we trust God and love one another with God’s love.

Luke 24.13-35. Some disciples meet the risen Christ on their journey to Emmaus, but they do not recognize him until he breaks bread with them.

Preaching Thoughts

Worship. The Emmaus story provides the four-fold structure of our worship: coming together with Christ, hearing the Word and reflecting on it, breaking bread together, and being sent into the world to proclaim the good news. Consider making this evident in your worship. You might break up the Gospel reading into four “scenes” and label the movements of worship:
• “Christ walks alongside us,” or “They were walking along, talking with each other…” introduced with Luke 24.13-16;
“Christ opens the scriptures to us,” or “He interpreted to them the things in scripture…” with Luke 24.17-27;
•“Christ breaks bread with us,” or “At the table with them, he took bread…” introduced with Luke 24.28-32;
• “We are sent to tell the good news,” or “They got up and returned…” introduced with Luke 24.33-35.

1 Peter uses language that may seem dense and archaic to modern listeners. You might either replace or supplement it with a more modern paraphrase. (Mine is below.) It describes how the life of faith is a life of continually dying to the world’s way of doling this and being raised to new ways of living, characterized primarily by love. Resurrection isn’t merely a doorway to the afterlife: it’s transformation to a new way of living, bearing the deep love of Christ.

Emmaus. The story speaks on several deep levels.
• It’s certainly about the early disciples’ experience: they realized, after the fact, that the risen Christ had been with them.
• It reflects how Jesus was “known in the breaking of the bread.” At Emmaus Jesus “took, blessed, broke and gave” the bread— here and at the last supper, the feeding of the 5000, and the breakfast on the beach in John 21. These are the only earthly actions Paul ever refers to in Jesus’ life (in 1 Cor. 11). There was both something distinctive about how Jesus handled the bread at table and something distinctive about this fourfold action in the life of the early church. It’s symbolic of the resurrected life of faith: we are taken from our lives (as 1 Peter suggests, rescued from loveless ways), “delivered into Christ’s realm of light;” we are blessed by God’s love; we are broken, dying to old ways, surrendering ourselves in love; and we are given to the world as agents of God’s grace.
• The Emmaus story reflects the experience of faith (paralleling that four-fold Eucharistic mystery) : like the disciples we experience brokenness or the collapse of old assumptions (we are taken away from the familiar); Christ comes alongside us and accompanies in our grief and bewilderment (we are blessed); our eyes are opened to see Christ’s presence with us that we hadn’t seen (our assumptions and old ways of seeing are broken); and we are given, sent back out to proclaim the good news. In the life of faith we experience the loss of old assumptions and habits; we experience Christ’s presence in new ways (often seen clearly only in retrospect); we meet Christ deeply in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the community of faith—which transforms us; and, as if born all over again as children with joy and hope we are sent out to embody resurrection in the world.
• In particular the Emmaus story says something about how Christ accompanies us in grief and loss. “We had hoped…” Christ does not rescue us from difficulty but transforms it into an experience of presence: the crucified and risen one walks with us, so that we too, in time, may rise. But first we walk through our sorrow, the “valley of the shadow of death,” accompanied by God’s “rod and staff.” The sorrowful journey leads us to a deeper knowledge of Christ’s presence, even in the brokenness—of the bread, and of our hearts.

Call to Worship

1.
Reader: 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.

Leader: Christ is Risen!
All: Christ is risen indeed.
Christ walks among us.
Alleluia! We give thanks, and worship in awe and wonder, in gratitude and joy. Alleluia!

2.
Leader: God of life, we long for you
All: Bread of life, we hunger for you. Breath of Life, we open ourselves to you.
Our hearts are burning within us.
Come, and stay with us.


3.
Leader: Life-Giving God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Seen and unseen, Christ, you walk with us,
and we open our hearts to your presence.
Alleluia! Come, Beloved, and feed us with your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
O God, on all our journeys,
paths of joy and sadness,
ways of knowing and not knowing,
you walk with us,
and open to us the truth.
Open our eyes to see you.
Open the ears of our hearts to hear you,
singing to us your love. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, you are Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of all things; and yet you walk beside us, opening your heart to us. In humility we thank you. In awe we open our hearts to your presence. In willingness we open our spirits to what you are saying to us. Speak to us, that we may know your presence, receive your grace, and live according to your will. Amen.

3.
God, we give thanks, that as the risen Christ walked
with the disciples on the road to Emmaus
he opened the scriptures to them, in order to deepen their understanding and their trust.
Help us to hear what you are saying to us today.

Christ journeyed with his disciples to share their lives.
Help us be mindful of your presence with as us we worship,
and as we walk through our daily lives.

He revealed himself to his disciples in the breaking of the bread.
Reveal yourself to us as we break bread around your table.
God, we open our hearts to you. Feed us with your Word. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Holy Presence,
unseen, you draw near,
unknown, you accompany us.
You hear our questions.
You know our grief and our hope.
Walk with us,
and open our eyes.

Readings

1 Peter 1.17-23 – a paraphrase
Put your trust in God, who understands everything you’ve done. Live in awe of that grace. The world has taught you futile ways of living, but you’ve been set free from all that—not by an exchange like some cash payment, but by Christ’s very life, a perfect gift offered up in love. Before the Creation of the world Christ was destined to love you like that—and now it’s been revealed, this shifting of time itself—and all for your sake. Through Christ you have come to trust in God, who raised Christ from the dead into glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Because you have re-oriented your soul by trust in God’s grace, you live in true love. So love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born to a new life, not through biology but through the living and enduring word of God.

Poetry


         Road to Emmaus

When there is shattered glass in my heart,
when the road is long and dull,
when the past has bent, the future vanished,
when I seem to walk from darkness toward darkness—
I pray not that the story be changed
but that my eyes be open
to you,
here beside us,
opening our eyes.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

(1 Peter 1. 17-25)
Gracious God, you who judge all, we live in reverent awe of you. For us, who were kidnapped by our own sins, you paid dearly to set us free—not a ransom of perishable things like silver or gold, but by your precious love, which we see in the blood of Christ. When he died, like an innocent lamb sacrificed for someone else, we saw your willingness to suffer for us. You have had this love for us since the beginning of time; and now we see it. Through Christ we have come to trust in you, who raised Christ from the dead into glory. For you have given us a new birth, through your living and enduring Word. Therefore our faith and hope are set on you alone. With your love we love one another. Even in the breaking of our hearts you have made yourself known to us; and now by the power of your Spirit we are sent into the world, to proclaim in word and deed your infinite love and grace. Alleluia!

Intercessory Prayers

Reader 1: Trusting that though unseen, Christ is among us, let us pray to God.
God, your risen Christ walked with the disciples.
Reader 2: Help us to be mindful of your presence. In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

Christ was revealed in the breaking of bread.
Help all those who manifest you in this world
by sharing food with the poor.
In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

Christ, you enabled your disciples to hear your call and to follow you.
Bless all people of faith, that they may listen to the promptings of your Spirit
and follow wholeheartedly.
In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

In Christ you entered the homes of the grieving and the broken.
Be present with those who suffer or struggle
and grant to them your peace.
In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

In your dying and rising we become your body;
your Spirit lives in us.
Awaken us to our call as your people
to bear your light into the world.

In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

Loving God, hear us as we offer to you our prayers.
[…. Intercessory prayers….]
In the name of Christ we pray…
All: Hear us, living God.

Eucharistic Prayer

Click here for eight settings of the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen to familiar tunes suitable for the Easter season.

[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]
1.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God, we give thanks, for in all our journeys
you walk with us.
On paths of joy and of sorrow, when we believe and when we do not believe,
you walk with us.
Though we do not recognize you, though we do not trust your presence,
you walk with us.
You share our journeys; you stay close to us.
You open our hearts, and they burn within us, for it is you—
you walk with us.
So we praise you and thank you.            [Sanctus, spoken]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               ——or ——[sung Tune: Joyful, Joyful, or Love Divine All Loves Excelling)]
Holy, holy, holy Presence, God of mercy, God of grace.
All Creation shines in glory: you are in each time and place.
Blessed is the one who comes, God, in your name, the name of love.
Sing hosanna in the highest! Sing all earth, and skies above!


Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who taught and healed, who gathered the Beloved Community,
who bears your love to us, so that we open our arms to him:
Stay with us.
Jesus was crucified, but you raised him from the dead,
so that still we might reach out to him:
Stay with us.
He is known to us in the breaking of the bread,
so that even now in this meal,
you stay with us.
[The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
                     —or—
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             ——or ——[sung, same tune]
Christ has died and Christ is risen. Christ will come again in love.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.

As Christ is made known to us in the breaking of Bread,
make your love known to the world in our lives.
Take us from our secret places; bless us with your grace;
break us open in grateful trust; and give us to the world in love.
Make your love known to the world in our lives,
to your eternal glory and praise.

[
Spoken]
                     ——or——
               [sung]
Alleluia. Amen. Amen. Amen.

________________
2.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

We thank you God, for you invite us to feast on your grace.
You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The kingdom of God may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son, saying, “Go into the streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.”
Holy, holy, holy One, God of mystery and love,
all Creation shines with your presence.
We praise you. We love you. We trust you.

Jesus had them sit down in groups on the green grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. They numbered five thousand.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. My cup overflows.
“Get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of God.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” He came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

[The Blessing and Covenant ]

They told what had happened, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, O God, and on these gifts, that they may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Receiving the Body of Christ, may we become the Body of Christ, one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, in the power and grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

______________
3.

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all things,
ruler of the world and all that is to come.
You created us in your image, brought us out of slavery,
delivered us from the power of sin and death,
and made covenant with us that we would be your people.
You walk with us in our journeys, though we do not see you
and in the breaking of bread in this community
we behold the presence of the risen Christ.
Therefore with all Creation we sing as one voice:

        (Sung, tune: Christ the Lord is Risen Today)
    Holy God, thou source of life, Alleluia!
    All Creation bears your Light! Alleluia!
    Praise! Hosanna, God above! Alleluia!
    Blessed is the one who bears your love! Alleluia!

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who is the resurrection and the life,
a prophet mighty in word and deed.
Christ suffered for the sake of love before entering your glory,
and redeems your people, according to your Covenant.


[… The Blessing and Covenant …]

Christ being raised from the dead will never die again;
death no longer has dominion.
We have died with Christ; we shall also live with him.


                  [sung]
    Dying, Christ destroys our death. Alleluia!
    Rising, Christ restores our life. Alleluia!
    Christ in glory shall return. Alleluia!
    Raise us; make our living new. Alleluia!

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, that we may be your people
and on these gifts, that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Feed our souls and strengthen our spirits,
that receiving the body of Christ we may become the Body of Christ
and go with joy to proclaim your good news for the sake of your glory.


            [sung]
    God, we give to you our hearts. Alleluia!
    May your church your love impart. Alleluia!
    Raise us up with Christ anew, Alleluia!
    As Christ’s Body, serving you. Alleluia!


____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
1.
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) You accompany us in every moment. You feed us your grace. You make yourself known to us in grateful sharing. Send us into the world to make your presence known in our love, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) You walk with us unseen, and our hearts burn with wonder. By your grace may we walk with others on the road, and share with them the bread of your presence. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) We have tasted your presence. Send us into the world to proclaim your good news, and to show forth your resurrection by living lives of love and courage, in the name and the spirit and the presence of the Risen Christ. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.) You have revealed yourself in the breaking of the bread. You have shared our journeys. You have visited and redeemed your people. Send us now, transformed by these gifts, to share your good news with all the world, in the name and the spirit of the crucified and risen Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

Click here for eight settings of the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen to familiar tunes suitable for the Easter season.

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

We Take This Moment (Tune: Gift of Love / The water Is wide)

We take this moment, Christ, with you:
for crucified and raised anew
you walk with us in all our pain.
Our hearts cry out for you again.

We bless this moment: it is dear,
for, hidden, you are with us here.
Our hearts reach out to touch your hand,
though we don’t always understand.

We break this moment open wide
and find your presence at our side.
Your warm light rises from within;
new life is waiting to begin.

We give this moment, God, to you:
that in our living you shine through,
that we may wonder, serve and bless,
that you may rise, O Christ, in us.