Year B 1st Easter WEDNESDAY, 7 April 2021
Video Service from St James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
Collect: O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Now on that same day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples 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. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. 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?" 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, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 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. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 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. 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." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 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?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Our readings this morning is about the Kingdom Come. On the road to Emmaus, the Resurrected Lord makes it clear that he had fulfilled all that needed to be fulfilled, and all was done in accordance with Scripture. He could then be clearly see for who he was, not through some miracle, but through the simple act of Re-Membering. And I have spoken to this before, but there is a double meaning of that word. Remember means to recollect, to bring to mind. It also means to become a part of something again. So much of what we do on Sundays is re-membering, with God, with each other, and with our best selves.
The Kingdom Come in the first reading is even more striking with Peter and John doing what Jesus did, just as Jesus said his followers would do. The fulfillment came from them being empowered by the Holy Spirit which had come upon them on Pentecost in Chapter 2 of Acts.
How do we make the Kingdom Come in Ashland. We pray for it almost daily, “On earth as it is in heaven…” It starts where they started in both of our readings.
Jesus quoted and did intensive study on Scripture. He shared his Bible Study with the followers on the road to Emmaus. We need to do the same. We need to steep ourselves in Scripture. I remember when I was in college, my brass professor (I was a Tuba player) mentioned how he had to play scales and simple exercises an hour a day. He still, as superb as he was, could not forego the simple basics. We need to keep God’s Word and the story of God’s interaction with people in our lives each and every day. Our lectionary does a great job with that, keeping us working our way through the Bible each and every day, not just Sundays. The daily lectionary is simple, and less than ten minutes, but such a great way to catch the scope and scale of God’s word.
We need to meet together to pray and share the Lord’s Supper. As it says, we must “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” We have to stay connected. Communion is not just with God, it is with each other.
Peter and John were doing these things, as well, as they were heading to the Temple to pray around 3 in the afternoon. But they were also ready to respond to need. They saw a man who had need. They asked God to step in, and at the same time were willing and available to share in God’s Kingdom work. Did they work the miracle? No. Would the miracle have happened without their faith and openness? Also, no. God wants to change the world, that was what Jesus kicked off. And what Bishop Curry urges us to do and be is the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement right where we are. We must see the need, and respond to it. We must attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God.
These are just three simple ways to make Ashland a bit more like heaven each and every day. Like a chef, there is a list of instructions, but doing what we need to do when we need to do it to have the whole meal come out at once is a learned skill set. And it is not an easy one at that. We have to work at it until it becomes not something we do, but rather who we are. That is what will make the Kingdom Come in our lives, in our Church, in our Town, and in this hurting world. Amen