Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sine Dominico Non Possumus: Reflections on Luke 24.13-35

Sine Dominico Non Possumus
Reflections on Luke 24.13-35

RCL Easter 3A
30 April 2017

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Luke 24.13-35

                  24.13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”  They stood still, looking sad.  18 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?”  19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.  21 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.  22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 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.  24 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.”  25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”  27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

                  28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.  29 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.  30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.  32 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?”  33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.  34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”  35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Introduction
            At the end of February in the year 303 Diocletian, the Roman Emperor, published an edict which ordered the destruction of Christian liturgical and scriptural texts, the demolition of Christian places of worship and the prohibition of Christians gathering for worship.  The Roman Empire had just passed through a period of chaos and civil war and Diocletian had been convinced by others that Christians were a threat to the unity and peace of the Empire.  The persecution unleashed by this edict lasted until 313 when the Edict of Milan decreed that the practice of the Christian faith was to be tolerated.

            Among the Christians who died as a result of Diocletian’s decree was a group of forty-nine Christians who lived in the town of Abitinae in what was then known as the Roman province of Africa and now known as Tunisia.  Members of the group were arrested for having gathered on Sunday.  When asked why they had disobeyed the Emperor’s edict, one of them is supposed to have said, ‘Sine dominico non possumus’ --- ‘Without the Sunday eucharist we cannot live’.  All were sentenced to death, women, men and children.

            In the seventeen hundred years since the deaths of the martyrs of Abitinae Christians have continued to gather to celebrate the Lord’s Day by breaking the bread of life and pouring the cup of salvation.  We have gathered  during times of peace and prosperity and during times of war and oppression.  We have gathered in environments of acceptance and respect and in environments of rejection and condemnation.  We have gathered because we know what our ancestors in the faith knew:  without the Sunday assembly of the Christian people, we cannot live.

Gather
            Have you ever considered how important it is to gather?  A sure sign of the importance of gathering is how quickly authoritarian regimes prohibit gatherings or use government media to down-play the size of any protests or demonstrations.  Regimes know what we sometimes forget:  when people assemble in numbers, they gain in power and influence.  Gatherings, you see, have the power to transform and to transfigure.

            Throughout the centuries Christians have understood the importance of bringing people together.  At the end of Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples that they are to go out into all the nations to make disciples (Matthew 28.19).  In both Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel Jesus tells a parable about a feast to which the invited guests do not come, so the host sends out servants far and wide to invite strangers, foreigners, rich and poor to come to the table.

            Our very life as a Christian community depends upon our willingness to gather people together.  Each Sunday we should look around us and ask two questions:  ‘Who is not here?’ and ‘Why are they not here?’  We want to ‘draw the circle wide’ so that more and more of our neighbours and friends can experience the transformation and transfiguration that gathering as Christ’s disciples can achieve.

            Without the gathering, we cannot live.

Transform and Transfigure
            When we hear the Scriptures proclaimed and interpreted, when we offer our intercessions, petitions and thanksgivings and when we receive the bread broken for the life of the world and the wine poured in the hope of the world to come, we are transformed and transfigured.

            The proclamation of the Scriptures and their interpretation remind us that we are following a heritage of faith and action that reaches back millennia.  We remember our past in order to be faithful disciples in the present and agents of God’s future.  Our intercessions, petitions and thanksgivings unite us with Christians throughout the world in a web of energy that changes lives.  In our communion with Christ through bread broken and wine poured, we receive the gift of Christ’s life so that we, in turn, become the gift we have received.

            Sometimes those of us who gather in this place are transformed.  By this I mean we are changed just as Thomas was changed from cynic into evangelist.  We even sing about this transformation from time to time in words such as ‘I once was blind but now I see’.  Transformation shakes the foundation of our self-understanding and may lead us into paths we never imagined following.

            And sometimes those of us who gather in this place are transfigured.  By this I mean we experience what might be called an ‘Aha!’ moment.  Augustine of Hippo is said to have held up the bread and wine of the eucharist and said, ‘The gifts of God for the people of God.  See who you are.  Become what you see.’  In such an ‘Aha!’ moment the penny drops, the final piece of the jigsaw clicks into place, Waldo suddenly jumps out of the picture.  Things that have always been before us are now seen in a new way.  We now understand where we are going and that the path we’ve been following no longer seems to meander but follows the contours God has laid out before us.

            Without the transformation and transfiguration, we cannot live.

Send
            But there is a counter-intuitive purpose to this gathering.  This gathering exists to transform and transfigure human beings in order to send them out into the world as agents of God’s purposes.  Although the Scriptures are filled with tales of miraculous deeds that defy human understanding, those same Scriptures are filled to over-flowing with tales of how God invites men, women and children to participate in achieving the re-creation, redemption and renewal of the world.

            Women filled with fear and mourning become apostles of the new life made known to us in the raising of Jesus from the dead.  A cynic is embraced by his friends only to see and touch his beloved teacher.  Two disappointed and weary disciples race uphill in the dark of night to tell their friends that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

            In the Downtown Eastside a priest walks the streets and calls people by name, people who have been forgotten and abandoned.  In Marpole a small parish feeds dozens of people each week and invites them to share in the supper of the Lord.  In Kerrisdale a deacon helps the stranger, the refugee, the elderly, the marginalized gain access to the government and social services that will perhaps give each person just a bit more dignity.  In congregations throughout the Lower Mainland we who know the shadows that darken our lives experience the light shone upon our darkness by loving communities of ‘help, hope and home’.

            Without the sending, we cannot live.

Conclusion
            If you travel from Tel Aviv today, you will pass through a tiny hamlet thought to be Emmaus.  From Emmaus you travel a winding highway that ascends the heights that lead you to Jerusalem.  Even with a four-lane highway caution is necessary.  Whenever I hear the story of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, I remember my own journey and consider how perilous theirs was.

            Desolate and disillusioned, the risen Jesus gathered them, transformed and transfigured them with word and table, and sent them running back to Jerusalem to share the good news.

            Every Sunday the risen Jesus gathers people together, so that the Spirit can transform and transfigure us into disciples and agents.  Every Sunday you and I are sent running from this place to share the good news with our families and friends, in our workplaces, homes and neighbourhoods, by word and deed.

            And why?  Because without the gathering, without the transformation and transfiguration, without the sending, we cannot live.  Nor, I dare say, can the world.

            

Monday, April 24, 2017

An Ordo for Easter 3 (30 April 2017)

Please see our Ordo for Easter 2 for a link to the lectionary we are using 
for the reading from the Hebrew scriptures and the psalm.

The Third Sunday of Easter
30 April 2017

The Gathering of the Community

Gathering Music

Announcements

Opening Hymn

‘The Day of Resurrection’  Common Praise #205

Introductory Responses

Alleluia!  Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

May his grace and peace be with you.
May he fill our hearts with joy.

The Hymn of Praise

‘Glory, in the Highest Glory’  Common Praise #366

The Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

Risen Christ, companion on the way:
break through the disillusionment and despair
which cloud our vision,
so that we may find our way and journey on
as messengers of your good news.  Amen. [i]

The Proclamation of the Word

The First Reading

A reading from the prophet Isaiah (51.1-6).

            51.1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord.  Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many.  3 For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

            4 Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.  5 I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.  6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm

Psalm 34.1-10 from Songs for the Holy One.

Refrain (sung twice):  Sing for joy to the Holy One!

I must bless the Holy One at all times,
            with sacred psalms always on my lips.
For the Holy One my soul sings for joy.
            May the poor and afflicted hear and rejoice.
Magnify the Holy One with me;
            let us exalt the Holy Name together.

Refrain:  Sing for joy to the Holy One!

I turned to the Holy One, who answered me
            and from all my terrors delivered me.
Look to God!  Be radiant!
            Do not let your faces be ashamed!
This poor person called to the Holy One,
            who answered and saved me from all affliction.
The holy angels surround those are reverent
            and rescue them.

Refrain:  Sing for joy to the Holy One!

How wonderful is the Holy One!  Taste and see!
            Happy are those who seek refuge there.
Reverence the Creator, you holy people;
            those who do, want for nothing.
Young lions may lack food and starve,
            but those who turn to the Holy One lack nothing.

Refrain:  Sing for joy to the Holy One!

The Second Reading

A reading from the First Letter of Peter (1.17-23).

            1.17 If 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.  18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.  20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.  21 Through 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.

            22 Now 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.  23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn before the Gospel

‘Jesus Is Risen from the Grave’  Common Praise #232 vv. 1, 7

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (24.13-35).
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            24.13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”  They stood still, looking sad.  18 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?”  19 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, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.  21 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.  22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 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.  24 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.”  25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”  27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

            28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.  29 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.  30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.  32 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?”  33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.  34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”  35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn after the Gospel

‘Jesus Is Risen from the Grave’  Common Praise #232 vv. 1, 6

The Homily

The Nicene Creed

Let us confess our faith, as we say,

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of the risen Christ be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

Offertory Hymn

‘Alleluia!  Sing to Jesus’  Common Praise #374 vv. 1, 3, 4, 5

Prayer over the Gifts

Let us pray.

Blessed are you, O God, ruler of heaven and earth.
Day by day you shower us with blessings.
As you have raised us to new life in Christ,
give us glad and generous hearts,
ready to praise you and to respond to those in need,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [ii]

The Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, for the glorious resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the true Paschal Lamb who gave himself to take away our sin, who in dying has destroyed death, and in rising has brought us to eternal life.  And so, with Mary Magdalene and Peter and all the witnesses of the resurrection, with earth and sea and all their creatures, and with angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

You are holy, you are whole. 
You are always ever more
than we ever understand.
You are always at hand.
 
Blessed are you coming near.
Blessed are you coming here
to your church in wine and bread,
raised from soil, raised from dead.

You are holy,
you are wholeness,
you are present. 
Let the cosmos praise you, Lord!

Sing hosanna in the highest! 
Sing hosanna!  Sing hosanna to our God! [iii]

Blessed are you, O God of the universe.  Your mercy is everlasting and your faithfulness endures from age to age.

Praise to you for creating the heavens and the earth.  Praise to you for saving the earth from the waters of the flood.  Praise to you for bringing the Israelites safely through the sea.  Praise to you for leading your people through the wilderness to the land of milk and honey.  Praise to you for the words and deeds of Jesus, your anointed one.  Praise to you for the death and resurrection of Christ.  Praise to you for your Spirit poured out on all nations.

In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:  Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.  Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying:  This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.  Do this for the remembrance of me.

With this bread and cup we remember our Lord’s passover from death to life as we proclaim the mystery of faith:  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

O God of resurrection and new life:  Pour out your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine.  Bless this feast.  Grace our table with your presence.  Come, Holy Spirit.

Reveal yourself to us in the breaking of the bread.  Raise us up as the body of Christ for the world.  Breathe new life into us.  Send us forth, burning with justice, peace, and love.  Come, Holy Spirit.

With the ever-blessed virgin Mary, blessed Joseph, blessed Faith and your holy ones of all times and places, with the earth and all its creatures, with sun and moon and stars, we praise you, O God, blessed and holy Trinity, now and forever.  Amen. [iv]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us 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.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [v]

The Breaking of the Bread

Lord, we died with you on the cross.
Now we are raised to new life.
We were buried in your tomb.
Now we share in your resurrection.
Live in us, that we may live in you.

These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

Communion

The Hymn after Communion

‘Splendour and Honour’  Common Praise #364

The Sending Forth of the Community

Prayer after Communion

Let us pray.

Life-giving God
in the mystery of Christ’s resurrection
you send light to conquer darkness,
water to give new life,
and the bread of life to nourish your people.
Send us forth as witnesses to your Son’s resurrection,
so that we may show your glory to all the world,
through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.  Amen.  Amen. [vi]

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘That Eastertide with Joy Was Bright’  Common Praise #231

Dismissal

The Deacon sends the Community forth with an appropriate Dismissal.




[i] Liturgy Task Force, ‘Trial Use Collects for Years A, B & C and Seasonal Prayers over the Gifts and after Communion’ 2016, 23.

[ii] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 64 alt.

[iii] Evangelical Lutheran Worship #525.

[iv] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 111.

[v] Songs for a Gospel People #12.

[vi] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 65 alt.