3rd Sunday in Easter

First Reading: Acts 2:14a, 36-41

14aPeter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed [the crowd], 36“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized 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. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Psalm: Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

1I love the Lord, who has heard my voice,
  and listened to my supplication,
2for the Lord has given ear to me
  whenever I called.
3The cords of death entangled me; the anguish of the grave came upon me; I came to grief and sorrow.
4Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
  “O Lord, I pray you, save my life.” 
12How shall I repay the Lord
  for all the good things God has done for me?
13I will lift the cup of salvation
  and call on the name of the Lord.
14I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all God’s people.
15Precious in your sight, O Lord,
  is the death of your servants.
16O Lord, truly I am your servant;
  I am your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from  my bonds.
17I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
  and call upon the name of the Lord.
18I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all God’s people,
19in the courts of the Lord’s house,
  in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah! 

Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-23

17If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
22Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 23You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

13Now on that same day [when Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene,] two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then 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?” 19He 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, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But 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. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and 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. 24Some 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.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But 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. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

CHILDREN’S SERMON:  I think today we will go back to one of my favorite Aesop’s Fables:  The Lion and The Mouse.

“A Lion lay asleep in the forest. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and ran across the Lion’s nose. The Lion laid his paw on the tiny creature to kill her.

“Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you.”  The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him but he let the Mouse go because he fancied himself generous.

Some days later, the Lion was caught in a hunter’s net. He filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse found the Lion struggling. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it and soon the Lion was free.”

Question to share with your neighbor:  Why was the Mouse’s plea so foolish to the Lion?

Let us pray.   Lord, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptible in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer.


         Last week we jumped from Easter morning to Easter evening, from sharing “The Lord is Risen” to hiding behind locked doors, afraid.  Today we go to the gospel of Luke and Easter afternoon. We read of two people walking away from all the action and excitement of Jerusalem, the crucifixion and the rumors of the resurrection.  While some followers gathered behind locked doors in fear, these two people just plain left.  “I’m out of here!” may have been their cry.  When life becomes overwhelming, distancing ourselves from the chaos and all the voices around us is a valid coping mechanism.  In significant ways we become like the little mouse pleading, “Let me go.”  Perhaps we are scared but we are also confused and we need a safe space.  I love to get in my car and drive.  My father went to the garage and his tool bench.  Others go to the mall or zone out in a video.  We have ways we cope with overload.  Our two people in the text are leaving the scene and walking along, engrossed in conversation, talking about all they’ve been through.

God’s wisdom confuses worldly wisdom

         The lion’s first impulse is to kill that mouse that disturbed him.  He has the power.  He has the right.  He is king of the forest and has the authority.  Besides mice are…you name it cause mice are near the bottom of the food chain.  Our knee jerk reactions often are to lash out and get rid of the nuisance.  Pilot washed his hands of Jesus.  The Jewish authorities demand the death of Jesus.  The soldiers were just following orders.  The disciples fled.  Judas committed suicide.  Easter morning and the cry, “He is risen,” makes no sense.  The followers of Jesus at some level understood that Jesus was the promised Messiah but they had their own definition of what that meant.  The Messiah would get rid of Rome and return them to their glorious past.  The followers knew mice should not disturb lions and dead people don’t rise.

     Even we have our expectations of how God should or could or ought to be acting in our world. We even back up our wants with Bible verses that tell us we can have anything from God if we have faith and pray.  For sure we know God is on our side and doubt his presence with our enemy.  So who are the lions in our world today?  Wealth, youth, talent, government and yes, beauty.  If we have one of these we are on the right side of the equation of life and if we are poor, the “other” ethnicity, weak or differently abled, we are at the bottom of the food chain.  Most of us would admit we are somewhere in-between but hoping to climb the respect ladder.  When the tables are turned and Jesus is crucified, dies and is buried but maybe resurrected, the two people are confused and need space to process.

“talking with each other about all these things that had happened”

Confusion turns us inward in discussion with those we trust.

         The lion is amused at the tiny mouse’s plea.  He frees her, not because he believes the mouse can help but because he chooses to be generous.  We hear the Easter message.  Many are willing to be CEO Christians, be baptized and come to church on special occasions like Christmas/Easter/and Other times like funerals or confirmations but the resurrection is not truly integrated truth in their lives.  It might be interesting to talk about but it is not life changing.  Many are on the road to Emmaus and do not even recognize Jesus walking beside them.  We are busy discussing all the things taking place in our world today.

“What things?”

         Interestingly Jesus comes as a presence, not a power.  He wants to know what we are so preoccupied with and what is so confusing.  He walks with us in the events of our lives.  He does not stand outside our reality and manipulate our lives either as he thinks they should be or as we would like them to be.  Jesus travels with us and wants to know what is on our minds.  But what does he do?  He points our two people to scripture.  Jesus is not only the risen Lord but he is also the Living Word.  I find it interesting that he starts with Moses; laying a foundation they would understand from their heritage and drawing them into the present.  He goes from the known to the unknown, from the seen to the unseen.  Part of the problem with confusion and events that challenge our understanding of our faith is the need to go back and clarify our concept of God.  And so Jesus starts with Moses.

         Perhaps as we face situations in our life today, the challenge is to ask ourselves how we think God ought to solve it and then chat with a friend to broaden our understanding of how God might choose to be acting.  Legendary coach John Wooden of the UCLA Bruins is famous for starting his seasons by teaching his players how to put on their shoes and socks.  He took them back to the basics because no game can be won with sore feet.  Jesus took the two people on the road back to the basics, Moses.  I sure would have loved to be a Kleenex in the pocket in one of those people hearing Jesus review scripture!  We have Bibles and can review whenever we are confused.  We have prayer and can talk to God about our confusion and the Holy Spirit sheds light.  God joins us in our questions.

“21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

         Our understanding of God impacts our expectations of our lives.   As we clarify our understanding of God, we see our present in a new light.  When the mouse chews through the rope holding the lion captive, the lion sees the mouse in a new light and he is set free to be all God created him to be.  The lion has been redeemed and the crucifixion redeemed Israel and all of us too.  The resurrection is not just an historical event we celebrate at Easter.  Freedom for the lion is not just a scriptural assurance that someday he will lay down with the lamb.  It is a reality he lives into three dimensionally, touching and feeling.

         Jesus ate with the two from Emmaus.  “30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.“  Jesus gave us the sacrament of communion.  It is in communion that he tells us the bread is his body broken for us and the wine is his blood shed for us.  He is with us three dimensionally, right inside us as we eat and drink.  We can be assured that he is in the midst of all circumstances we go through.

“35Then they told what had happened on the road,

 and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

         God’s wisdom is not like worldly wisdom.  Letting the mouse go free is counter intuitive.  Dramatic events can overwhelm us and drive us to seek space with others we trust.  We are confused and seek clarification but unlike the world, we do not become the brilliant insightful ones, we become the sharing ones.  Wisdom and clarity come from God in the midst of our lives.  Our joy of discovery is meant to be shared.  The two people had to return to Jerusalem and tell the other followers who themselves were experiencing the risen Christ. The resurrection sets us free to be our better selves, the person God would have us be in our worlds.

         The resurrection turns us from inward fear and confusion to outward awareness of God presence with us in our world, speaking into our dynamics today through his word.  Fear gives way to peace and confusion gives way to clarity. The seen calamities of this world gives way to the unseen presence of God walking with us, helping us to understand, and communing with us.  The lion realizes the mouse is not a silly disturbance and bother but a significant encounter with unseen blessings to be lived into.  The Lord is risen!  The Lord is risen, indeed.

Let the people of God say, “Amen.”

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