Palm Sunday – a sermon on Mark 14:1-15:47

Image 1Today is a strange, complex, confusing day in the life of our Church.
At one point we stand and process together in praise and excitement – the Messiah is coming! And later, we stand in stunned shock, unable to comprehend the reality of what happens at the end of the story. Our service started those moments of heartfelt expectation placing us as part of a crowd who saw Jesus as the Messiah. People so certain of who Jesus was that they shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

These words mark the moment of entry of Jesus into Jerusalem proclaiming the deep desire of hope and salvation sought by the people. Its a story not of a traditional King who came to conquer; one who came on a prancing horse, in royal robes, surrounded by an army. Instead, the story we see and hear this morning is one of a lowly servant on a donkey, in the clothes of the humble and the poor – the clothing of the very people surrounding him.

Jesus Christ comes to conquer by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people.
His call is not for a kingdom of armies and riches, but of lowliness and servanthood. He comes to conquers not nations, but hearts and minds. His message is one of everlasting peace with God, not of the temporal peace we seek in this world.

After months of teaching around the countryside, after the many miracles he performed in front of people, after the crowds of five thousand have gone home. Jesus now with his disciples begin the journey into Jerusalem, into the mouth of the lion. The very place where he knows what is to happen will happen. And despite his continued teachings, despite his warnings, those around him unknowingly celebrate this journey.

So we gather today with shouts of hope and celebration, and yet also tears of loss and confusion as the story continues. In hearing this story today, we stand witness with Jesus on this fateful day. Despite the uneasiness that lay in our hearts we can picture ourselves in the crowd. We can identify with those who stood there watching what was happening, afraid, numb and frozen in place. Not stepping up to help because of the fear in our hearts. In hearing this story, we see the best and the worst that exists in our own lives, and all that we have to offer. We see ourselves, catching glimpses of the truth dimly. We also see ourselves fickle and quick to run when things get tough. We stand with those in the story, unable it seems to help others… and we can’t seem to even help ourselves. We simply stand in silent watch.

And it is for this very reason that Jesus came and offered himself on the cross. Jesus offered himself because we can’t always help ourselves. Too often, we see good and do the wrong thing. Too often, we turn away when we should help. We know right from wrong, we know the difference between good and evil, and yet when faced with the choice, more often than not, we freeze. It’s part of our very DNA – fight, flight or freeze. Yet, despite the end result of his journey, Jesus proclaims there is hope. That there is hope in God. There is love in God. Jesus leads us to trust that all of this is in the hands of God. Not an understanding that God made this happen, but understanding that we live grounded, in the reality of an awareness that as humans, we exist in a dual world of light and darkness, of good and evil. And in the duality of these spaces, both good and bad simply exist as part of our human nature.

But when we hit those moments in our lives shift towards the darkness, like our story today, as Christians we’re grounded in an understanding that God is there, present with us. And that’s how God is God. Profoundly present as our lives shift and change. Always present in the light. Always present in the darkness. Visibly present in moments of goodness, and quietly patient and present in moments of evil. God is constantly there…. planting seeds of redemption and forgiveness, helping new life come into being…. offering us endless examples of resurrection. Moving us back into the light of his love and compassion, making it possible for our tears to turn into laughter and our weeping into moments of joy.

And in our story this morning, its in just one of these moments that one person saw something differently than the rest; The centurion. He moved from the darkness of the event into the light of understanding. He had stood watching everything that day. He was used to crucifixion because he helped carry out the orders. But as he watched Jesus die, the centurion who’s allegiance was to the emperor saw something in Jesus in those moments, and his allegiance shifted, saying to those around him, “Truly, this man was God’s Son.”

In the terrible events of that day he experienced the wonder of God. He experienced Gods hope for the world. He saw light in a terrible moment of darkness.

The cross and Christ’s death comes fast in todays story, but Easter comes just as quickly. Through the love of God, resurrection comes as every bit of a surprise for us as Good Friday does. And next Sunday, the women who go to the tomb expecting death instead they find angels proclaiming new life and the story turns again and it happens quickly. They go expecting an un-moveable boulder and instead the stone has been rolled away. And they are given good news; good news to share with their people. So just like that – in the blink of a tear filled eye, the cries of Crucify Him! become cries of Alleluia! – and the emptiness of the tomb fills the emptiness of their hearts and life begins again. New life, promised and given by Christ. AMEN

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We are all on a journey, a journey together

Gracious and Loving God, grant that the journeys on which we find ourselves may offer us all the wonders you hope for us. Bless us with true friends, neighbors and companions, with relationships founded in faith, love and justice. And grant that we in these relationships may serve your will on earth as in heaven. All this we pray in your most Holy name.
Amen.

In our Scripture today we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan by John and over the next few weeks in Epiphany, we’ll be hearing the stories of his journeys, the beginnings of the start of his ministry in the world, and his gathering of the disciples. What we will be hearing are stories of journeys in faith. Stories that call us to seek something beyond what simply exists before our eyes in this world. It’s a call for us to dig deeper and begin to un derstand what Jesus meant when he said to Nathaniel, “You will see greater things than these.”

There are parallel stories in the Bible, ones about people and places in literal history, and within that a deeper, spiritual level that reflects our own individual journeys. This makes the Bible a relevant guide for us today. In its literal sense there are contradictions, resulting in confusion and many times disagreements, but on the spiritual level, when we dig deeper and look harder, the contradictions begin to disappear. This journey is our spiritual development: our individual self-discovery of what gives our life meaning; what our purpose is, our use, our love; who we are and how we fit into God’s plan. God created us with freedom to choose, and to learn to make the choices that lead us to a heavenly life. He created us with free will so that we can fulfill his plan for us, and can choose to become his hands and feet in this world. And this journey God calls us on is not one we’re asked to travel alone.

For the past 8 years I’ve been on such a journey; one that culminated yesterday with my priesting at Trinity Copley and in my call to work as pastor, priest and teacher here in Stoughton, to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to love and serve the people among whom I work. This journey has been one that had its stages of contradictions and confusions, places where I’ve had to stop and reexamine and reflect. Moments where my call was questioned, and moments where I’ve had decisions to make. I’ve visited and worked in places that have helped form and inform me in more ways than I can remember, whether those places are are the parishes I’ve worked in, sacristies I’ve polished brass in, or barrio’s in the poorest parts of a foreign country. But the one commonality in all of these places was the fact that I knew I was never alone, that God was always there with me, and that I was always in the presence of others.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all on a journey in this life and for most of our journey, we are in relationship with other people. Sometimes we meet through brief encounters, sometimes for short periods of time in work together, and sometime we find life long companions. And on the simplest level, It’s my belief and my experience that people enter into your life to teach you something. In the more temporary times they may come and go, but they make a difference and you are left changed in some way! I have been incredibly blessed to have had an almost endless list of places where my encounters with people have formed and changed me. To learn and grow with the communities I’ve been part of over the past eight years, Trinity Melrose, Episcopal Divinity School, Saint John’s Bowdoin St, Emmanuel Wakefield. The list of parishes I’ve visited as Bishops chaplain, or worked with through the Saint Luke’s soup kitchen and the far flung parishes I’ve been in during medical mission trips; places where the people I encountered didn’t speak the same language as I did, but we still worked and grew together in faith, serving the least of these.

And now here….. Trinity Stoughton. I wish for a moment we could change places, so that you could see what I see from up here. While it may seem from where you sit you see all the action…. I assure you that I am the one witnessing something amazing; and what matters most is the work YOU are doing in the world and the relationships that you are all developing. The work which make an incredible difference in the world. I hope that as in our readings this morning, that God is well pleased with what is happening here at Trinity. Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed the energy of the Holy Spirit descending on us, energizing us, calling us, and reminding us of the call of our baptismal covenant; to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ – To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself – to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of all people.

In a very real way, “we ARE there,” witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst, just as those disciples experienced the Holy Spirit descending on them in their lives. The Holy Spirit reminds us again and again that we ARE God’s children and we have the same Holy Spirit the disciples received to live out our call to serve and to help and to heal. Our gospel messages aren’t about simply getting it right with Jesus in some private spiritual affair. Its about engagement: not only our faith and lives but the faith and lives of others, in every interaction, in every world and action spoken or unseen…. in every moment of our existence. Its an invitation and our call to be fully formed by God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Your work here is clearly spelled out, and those at Trinity yesterday heard again the call: that “All baptized people are called to make Christ known as Savior and Lord, and to share in the renewing of his world. “

The theologian Walter Brueggemann once suggested that the greatest heresy in our time is the notion that it is possible to live an uncalled life, a life which has no reference point beyond itself, a life in which God would not choose to dwell. We are all called; called by God in many ways, to use the many gifts he blessed us with, to do more and to make a difference in the lives of others. To make the kingdom of heaven evident and visible here on earth. This call brings us all on a journey, whether we’re ready or not, so relish the moments in which you grace the life of another and always remember… it’s the journey we are on that is important not the destination. That’s already planned for us. Enjoy it while it lasts and have a little fun!
AMEN
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Forgiveness – Not Seven Times, but Seventy-seven

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In the name of God our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, AMEN

Good Morning!
Last week you may have heard me reference the second line of this mornings gospel, when I spoke about living in community and the importance of living into authentic relationship together. Forgiveness was a major theme in Jesus’ ministry, and this morning’s Gospel, we hear a parable, telling a story, one of his favorite teaching tools. A story many around him could relate to as a class of people who in all probability, were themselves slaves in one way or another to a King or a Lord. In Jesus’ time, the majority of the people were indentured servants because of owing money, or agricultural tributes to their landowners or lords.

In todays story, a slave is forgiven his debt after his lord had pity on him. A debt of ten thousand talents. A second chance at freedom from a burden impossible to repay. To put it into perspective, a talent equals approximately 75 pounds of gold, or seven and a half billion dollars in todays money. 6,000 plus days wages. There was of course some shock value in this story Jesus told, I can’t imagine anyone lending their servant such a vast sum, but it wasn’t the amount of money owed as much as the point made in the story. This slave then goes to one who owe him money, and instead of forgiving this persons debt of 100 denari, a sum equal to only 100 days wages he has him imprisoned. Hearing this, after he himself had forgiven the slave his debt, the King then has the slave tortured until he can repay the debt. The point we learn from the parable I think is a reminder that forgiveness can sometimes be the hardest and most costliest thing we can ever offer one another and its not the easiest thing to do. But as Christians, we have the example of Christ to follow, sharing the same love he had for all people with one another, forgiving where we can, many times working to forgive ourselves.

Today in our church we celebrate Holy Cross day, a day also known as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This is a day in which we pray and reflect on and venerate the cross, perhaps the most important symbol of our faith. The cross was in Roman times a symbol of absolute terror and suppression. A tool used to punish the worst of the worst. This very symbol was later taken up by Christians and turned into a symbol of hope for people to turn to instead of away from. The cross represents Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us, for the forgiveness of our sins. A place where Christ in being sacrificed and broken offers us forgiveness once and for all. His last words beings Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Similarly, we’re reminded of his sacrifice in our Eucharists, when we hear each week the words of Jesus at the last supper saying, take, eat, this is my body, broken and given for you.

There’s a great expression that says in part, “God doesn’t use perfect people. His grace flows best through broken people.” And I think that’s where this story today come in handy. Because the truth is, we are sometimes more like the servant in this story than we care to realize. That at times we find ourselves receiving forgiveness, but we then do not break ourselves open to in turn give it to others. We leave church on Sundays with a feeling of our sins forgiven and then later in the week, we get angry, irritable with the people that upset us, and we walk away without offering the same reconciliation or forgiveness we were graced with.

Following Jesus involves our not only accepting His forgiveness but it also requires us to break ourselves. To open ourselves up to let the Holy Spirit change us from the inside, filling us with love and patience, and goodness, and changing how we relate with one another. Forgiveness presents a great opportunity for us. It creates space for new life and new avenues of thought. It heals us and takes us out of darkness into light, and as Christ shows us, from death to life. Forgiveness is an act of hope and a way of resurrection for us to begin relationships anew. Every Sunday, and every day if you have a regular prayer habit, we say the Lord’s prayer, and in it we ask “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We pray those words with ease but how do we then live them out? Do our actions later on support our request in this prayer? By letting go of negative thought, resentment and anger we allow ourselves space for grace us to enter in, so that we might live and love again.

Matthew earlier along in this gospel reminds us “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:14-15). When we hear this, it can almost be offensive. It makes God seem almost coldhearted and uncaring. But it is written in such a way that it forces us to put aside any wiggle room. It keeps us from deceiving ourselves that holding onto destructive pain that others have caused us is okay, and that we really don’t need to forgive that person again and again. Jesus reminds us there is no wiggle room; “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” The GREATEST reason God instructs us to forgive those who wrong us is for our own good. Forgiveness allows us to hold onto hope instead of anger, and a future instead of the bitterness of the past.

So how do we begin to forgive? There is no easy answer, Forgiving takes time and work and prayer. Its something we must practice every day. And it begins with recognition and thanksgiving that we have already been forgiven. That forgiveness does not originate in us. It began with God and is about God and his hope and the deep love he has for us as his created. He recognizes that in our brokenness we require forgiveness again and again, and that we also require the chance to try again. In his love for us, he offers us choice and a chance to get it right if we fail. And in response, we through our breaking ourselves open in turn do the same, we reach out and forgive. And we must always remember; we do not simply choose to forgive, we choose to share the love and forgiveness we have already received. And then we share that forgiveness again, and again, and again. “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” A practice that we live into freely and openly, because forgiveness is the choice God calls us make.

So let us pray;
Gracious and loving God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant in your love for us to help all of us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Heal our emotions that have been wounded and teach us how to love and forgive unconditionally as you forgive us. Continue to extend Your love and mercy toward us, reminding us through the power of your Holy Spirit to use Your power, living inside us, which helps us in all things.  Help us to forget the past so that we can move forward to the future you wish for us as we press toward the mark of our higher calling in Christ Jesus. AMEN

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Binding Up – Binding Together

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May the yearnings of all our hearts be the answers to your call Oh God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, AMEN

Well….Good Morning!

I’m excited to be here with you this morning, and to begin worshiping and working with you in this next phase of what’s been in many respects a lifelong journey for me and the culmination of what I’ve prayed over for many years. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you as I begin the work of becoming part of the fabric, the life here at Trintiy … and not only simply becoming part of the community, but entering into a journey of understanding at a deeper level what it means to be part of the community of Trinity Stoughton. What are the important values? What is it that draws people here week after week, and what is it we need to do to share these values with people who aren’t here, to grow and expand the good news we find at Trinity.

As we get to know each other over the coming weeks, months and years to come, we’ll be sharing many stories back and forth as a way to get to know each other on a much more meaningful deeper level. Story telling is an intricate part of living in relationship as a community. When you think about it, every week as we gather here and enter into worship, part of our time together is spent listening to the stories. Those of our ancestors through our readings, of Christ’s ministry in the world through our Gospel readings and even after our worship has ended, as we gather for coffee. As a community, we reaffirm what we believe in the Apostles creed, the story of our faith. You’ll find that I frequently preach about the value of story telling and how I feel story telling forms and informs us. And I’ll admit right now, you’ll also hear of one of the challenges I face on a weekly basis; that I’m not a fan of these scripture snippets we use in the church today – these “time saving” short readings we use each week. While I understand the need for them, I think they present a challenge to many in the world today wo don’t have the time to be ongoing readers of scripture. These short segments of scripture don’t always paint the full picture of whats going on in our reading when taken out of the context of the bigger story. That being said I promise I won’t be pushing for hour long scripture readings, or worse yet, sermons that you’ll need to bring a bagged lunch to sit through.

This week’s scripture from Matthew is an example of one where I see a challenge only hearing a piece of the story. The Gospel of Matthew was written for a community of Christians who didn’t even call themselves Christians at the time. A community within a community, who still considered themselves Jewish, yet were followers of a new way of living, often at odds with the established way of life of the society around them. They were a community that was seeking to understand how to live together as what we now define as Church, and how this new Church should exist in the world they lived in. A space of great tension and conflict. When you think about it, issues that are just as prevalent for us today as they were when the Gospel was originally written. Matthew’s writings offered guidance on how to be disciples of Jesus and how to be an effective, communal sign to the world, witnesses to the power and greatness of God’s grace. In Matthew, we gain an awareness that the followers of Jesus were called not to be a collection of individual disciples, rather, they were meant to be a sign of community; united to one another and to Christ for the proclamation of God’s kingdom.

Matthew, many times in his writings offers a profound look into the challenges of living in such community, of how to live with and deal with differing views, differing attitudes. In this mornings reading, we hear Jesus talk with his disciples about what to do when facing conflict with others. About what to do if someone sins against you. What we unfortunately don’t hear this morning are the verses before and after which put the story into a clearer context. The parable of the lost sheep precedes this snippet, where the disciples are reminded that the lost sheep should always be sought after. The verse after hearing this teaching is the well known verse where Peter asks Jesus how many times one is required to forgive another, with Jesus responding “No not seven times, but seventy seven times.” When we read and live into this bigger story being presented, we begin to then see and hear what Jesus is trying to teach us. That despite difference, despite disagreement, we’re called to keep trying, and trying; again and again. That it’s about not giving up and to always try to reach out with a hand to reconcile difference. And its about the important role community and living in relationship plays in this.

Jesus in this passage tell his disciples about what true fellowship and true community is; a place where we offer support and forgiveness to each other in an authentic and heartfelt way; a place of reconciliation. And this isn’t always easy. The first step toward reconciliation requires that we be open to listening. True listening means going to the other person. It means opening ourselves up and sometimes taking the first step. This is often painful, but it is necessary if there is to be any hope of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. Too often, many in our communities fall prey to taking the easy way out. That, rather than enter into dialogue together when faced with an issue, people find it easier to disengage, to avoid talking things through, creating separation and division. Or worse yet; to begin to draw others into creating a larger struggle, by triangulation and gossip and whisper campaigns. I’m not sure about you but I know at times, I’m challenged to remain in conversation with someone who continually disagree with anything I suggest or have to say. But the important thing is to keep trying to find a way past the division, and focusing on what Jesus is continually trying to teach us.

In today’s Gospel we learn that what the Church is at its core is a community of faith that works for reconciliation. Matthew gives us instructions in how to reconcile our differences. What we learn that we can succeed. That we can work towards meaningful ways of being in community together and find as Jesus reminds us, that as Gods creation, forgiveness IS at the very core of who we are. We’re reminded by Christ that, “when two or three gather in his name,” as we do each Sunday as well as many times outside of these walls during the week, we can be agents of reconciliation in a world that desperately needs it. Through prayer and forgiveness towards others, we are able to live into this call. We grow and expand God’s kingdom here at Trinity, and we become a community where relationships will flourish; showing others who we truly are. Together in faith, we can grow this community into a beacon for others to see and seek to be part of. Together as community, we can be agents of reconciliation in a world desperately in need, binding together here in earth what we know we will find in heaven.

SO let us pray;
Christ Jesus, you teach us that whatever we bind on earth we will also find in heaven. Guide us to do the work our Holy Father seeks us to do in this world, to create a community of hope and reconciling love, and grant us the peace and strength we need, to be a holy people and a holy place for others. All this we ask in your name, AMEN

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2014 Medical Mission Trip -Day One

imageDay One of the Clinic

After breakfast, the team boarded our van and headed towards la Barquita. We were warmly greeted by Fr Emilio, his wife Maria and a group of parishioners who quickly helped us unload our supplies and carry them up the stairs to the clinic. The clinic is relatively easy to set up having run one last year, but as always the challenge is finding what you need in a stack of trunks. The pharmacy was set up on the lower level of the church building in a classroom towards the rear of the building.

Once we finished setting up, Maria took a number of us on a tour of the immediate neighborhood. While there are a number of new buildings going up and some houses appear recently painted, the area remains unpaved and quite poor. We stopped and spoke with a few residents and said hello to many walking by. The hospitality and gracious welcomes are amazing. This walk quickly spreads the news that we are at the church. After stopping for lunch, we prepared to see our first group of patients. The laid back style of the Dominican People means nothing really starts on time, so after a short time a number of people began arriving.

We have a larger number of translators with us this year which is great; it allows for more meaningful conversations with the local people. Rather than rushing people through, we have the ability to connect more with them and create deeper relationships. It has been great to have time in between groups of people to be able to converse with those helping us. Pam spent time today with young girls who were taking english lessons, asking them to translate into English some of the information we gather at registration.

To keep from being overwhelmed, we kept the number of people low. Tomorrow we plan to see double the number on our first full day. After a wonderful dinner we gathered as we will every night, to reflect on the experiences of the day, to offer thanks to God for the opportunity to meet and better know our brothers and sisters in the DR and to celebrate in song.

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2014 Medical Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic

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Our 2014 All Saints medical mission team arrived safely in the Dominican Republic today. This years team is comprised of thirteen gifted people, many returning with a variety of gifts and years of experience. For some members, this is the first such trip, one surely filled with some fear and uncertainty, wondering what to expect over the next week. No matter the experience, after sharing a great meal and meeting to get to know each other better, we prayed together and pinned each other with the crosses above. we already feel like we’ve known each other for years.

The cross in the picture above Is this years outward symbol. A symbol we will share with our companions at San Pedro y San Pablo, in La Barquita, the barrio outside of Santo Domingo where we will work. As living members of Christ’s body, we will be changed in many ways over the next seven days as we open ourselves to be servants to others. We begin our work tomorrow setting up the clinic in which we will work and will also reconnect with the friends we made last year, the parishioners of the church who work side by side with us. New friendships will certainly be made during this trip, new experiences encountered. It promises to be a great week ahead of us, hot yes, humid of course, but incredibly enriching for all.

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We travel not alone – A sermon on Luke 24:13-35, The Road to Emmaus

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I suppose, twenty years from now maybe my enthusiasm will dim a bit, though I really hope it doesn’t… but what a GREAT story we hear in this mornings Gospel. The writer of the Gospel of Luke goes into great detail in his writings, which is probably why it’s the longest of the four Gospels. And that attention to detail is especially in this story of Jesus appearing after his resurrection. Luke is the only gospel that tells a full story about this encounter, and in doing so, it really allows us to place ourselves as characters in the story, imagining for a moment, what it must have been like to be one the disciples and walk on that seven mile walk on a dusty road. We can feel the confusion and sadness they are experiencing, having believed that they’ve lost the person who had perhaps become the most important part of their lives. A story we can all relate to when we look back at our own lives and see places where we too have been on a confusing path…. due to the loss of someone or something equally important to us. The loss perhaps of not only the death of a beloved family member or a good friend, but also times where we’ve faced some other type of loss through health issues, or the loss of a job, or other economic circumstances.

It’s oddly appropriate for me, a coincidence I guess, that this gospel reading was the very reading I wrote and spoke about six or seven years ago when I first started this journey of mine towards ordained ministry. That back then, I was at the beginning of a journey on a path of confusion and discernment, about who I was, what I felt called to be, entering into a period of uncertainty of the future before me. And now years later I find myself about to enter yet another of these periods as I leave the relatively safe time of seminary and field education…..beginning yet another walk on another road as I move into parish ministry in a new role.

When we think about other scripture stories we’ve heard about Jesus, it’s interesting to notice, that it’s usually in the closeness of companionship or fellowship…… in a simple walk on a road like this mornings gospel, in the sharing of a meal, and in gathering as community….. whether in joy or hiding in fear…. It’s in these encounters that Jesus truly reveals himself to the disciples. And typically also, these moments are ones of uncertainty and fear, times when people are most desperately seeking answers to their questions. This morning we hear a story of people in relationship with Jesus, who’s eyes open a bit wider…. seeing Him for who He truly is. Its a story that helps reveal something to us even when read today; That it’s in relationship, community, companionship, that we see others for who they truly are. Especially when we open ourselves up to walking with the other.

We’re all I believe, on our own roads to Emmaus. On our own journeys which at times are confusing, disconcerting, and yet at all times full of amazing moments when we open our eyes to them. And sometimes….. it’s in the walk, like the one the disciples find themselves in this morning that we find the space to think and work things out. To clear our minds of the confusing flood of thoughts that sometimes overpower us….. keeping us from seeing the simple truth of the question or struggles in our minds. And it’s in this walking I believe, that we as Christians can sometimes do our best work. When we simply offer to join others on their walk, their journey as they struggle perhaps with sickness, a faith crisis, or perhaps through the death of a loved one. It’s in this walk where we share stories, when we listen deeper to another, and where we offer hope to those who desperately seek it. Its where we become the Christ to one another, listening to the fear and hopes of others just as we hear Jesus did in this story this morning.

As a people of faith, we can receive great comfort in knowing that there are others who will help us see him when we cannot. Even if we feel alone or isolated,….. even if we struggle to see God at work in our own lives, we have others who can help us see that we are never truly alone in our journeys of life and faith. Cleopas and his friend did not journey alone that day, they had each other. When they had the good news to share of seeing Jesus, their first instinct was to run back to Jerusalem and share it with the others, sharing good news that moves us from loneliness and isolation to the comfort of community and companionship. And we share the good news of this Easter season as a community, as a community of faith, and as a church family, we find ways to show the hope we find in the risen Christ to one another as we gather together each Sunday in prayer. We remind others of the presence of the Christ and the hope of the Gospel when they may not see it. When one of us walks the road and cannot recognize that Christ walks with us, we are there to remind each other. Our faith is not individual, but communal,…..we are all on this road, recognizing Christ, together.

I have an incredible understanding of community; of the cloud of witnesses that walk with me today, one much different that when I first started. And you’ve been an important part of my journey. I hope that I’ve been bold enough in my own quiet way to have challenged you with continuing to be who you are; companions in the journey and the hands and feet of Christ to so many in the world. Emmanuel is a special place for people in this difficult world. I’d like to convey my thanks to you for all you’ve done for me. To thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the time YOU took to walk with me over these past two years, offering me companionship in my journey, hospitality in breaking bread with me and the shared joy of discovering Christ in each other. Your presence in this journey will always be a part of who I am and who I will be.

May God always bless you and always keep you all in his loving embrace.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, AMEN

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