Sunday 18th April 2021 – Rev Arnold Dixon 

Open minds 

Luke 24.36b-48

The two disciples have returned to Jerusalem after their walk to Emmaus and back. Their conversation with Jesus on the Emmaus road has brought some comfort but may have raised yet more questions. Their maelstrom of emotions includes shock and grief at Jesus' death and confusion and disbelief at the disappearance of his body. However, as Jesus eats with them, these feelings give way to an expression of pure joy and, when Jesus explains the Scriptures to them, understanding of the truth about who he is.

Knowing that the disciples experienced times of anxiety in their journey of faith can be encouraging to us, and offers an opportunity to explore how we respond, emotionally, in different situations. What would help our minds to be open – when we are distressed – to know the peace of Christ, and to trust in his word?

 

This week we explore feelings in faith.

 

Call to worship

Jesus says, ‘Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.'
In worship, let us come to the one who offers peace and rest.

 

A gathering prayer

Against the noise of the world we cover our ears;
at distressing sights we close our eyes;
to confusing thoughts we close our minds;
amid the clamour of distress we close our hearts.
Loving God, your ears and eyes are ever open to our needs;
help us to worship with open hearts and minds,
that we may have open ears and eyes
to see the work that you call us to do,
and open hands to do it. 

Amen

 

Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven:  Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version

Click on the Link:    https://youtu.be/60JgQoJK9J8

 

A prayer of approach

Lord God, whose arms are always open to us,
we come before you today
with hearts and minds open to receive your teaching.
Lead us to understand who you are and what you have done,
and what you require of us as witnesses.
In Jesus' name.
Amen

 

A prayer of adoration

Lord, who understands our every need,
we adore you for stilling our turmoil,
for being the calm in the storm,
our anchor in the deep,
and the safe port awaiting us always.
Amen

 

A prayer of confession

God, we confess that when distress comes knocking at our door,
all that we have learned and should know
goes flying out of the window.
Our minds in disarray,
we fail to turn to trusted sources of help.
Forgive us for forgetting how to seek you.
We forget your sustaining Word in Scripture,
your presence when we turn to you in prayer,
the calm that is to be found when we seek you in community.
We are sorry for turning in on ourselves,
our minds going round in circles.
Come, risen Lord, break the cycle of our despair.
Amen

 

A prayer of praise

Lord, you have always been our host.
When you first came from heaven to the world we call ours,
shepherds and kings were your guests.
When you accepted hospitality in the homes of others,
you turned the tables and became the host,
feeding hearts and souls through your teaching.
When you came to the disciples, newly risen,
you took charge and saw to their needs of mind and body.
We praise you, Jesus, ground of our being,
ground of our believing,
for standing among us in your risen power,
host to the world that is yours – not ours.
Amen

 

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him;  Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version Click on the Link:   https://youtu.be/L6TfPrQH97w

 

Reading;  Luke 24.36b-48

 

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36  While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  38  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  39  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  41  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  42  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  43  and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  46  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  47  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  48  You are witnesses of these things.

 

Be still for the Glory of the Lord:  Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version

Click on the Link :    https://youtu.be/Vep_Ty4Zx1o

 

Sermon:  Open minds

The Bible is full of stories about God's involvement in the world. Jesus fulfils Scripture because its stories resonate with his, just as his stories resonate with ours. Listen out for those resonances; it is in those moments that the Bible is most likely to surprise or console or challenge us.

Each and every week, the food pantry i.e. ‘food kitchen' distributes food to about 800 families in that part of San Francisco.

The inspiration came from journalist, Sara Miles. She had grown up as a dedicated atheist. She didn't believe in God, or Jesus, or any of that stuff. But, for no known earthly reason, early one morning in 1999, she wandered into St Gregory of Nyssa church and joined a communion service. She received the bread and wine. And the experience completely transformed her life. She was converted there and then. She embraced a faith that previously she had scorned.

But with that came an important discovery: that the Christian faith, at least for her, wasn't all about angels or pious behaviour or even being good. It was about people – real hungry people. People who longed to be fed, who needed to be fed. Before long she had tuned the bread that she ate at communion into tons, literally tons, of groceries, piled up and ready to be given away. And within a few years, she and the people of the community of St Gregory of Nyssa had started nearly a dozen food pantries in the poorest parts of San Francisco.

She later wrote a book about her experience which is called  Take This Bread . In it she writes: ‘the mysterious sacrament turned out to be not a symbolic wafer but actual food – indeed, the bread of life' ( Sara Miles,  Take This Bread. The spiritual memoir of a twenty-first century Christian , Norwich: Canterbury Press 2012 ).

The emotional impact of that first encounter with Jesus – in a communion service – made Sara Miles want to extend the life of Jesus through actual food. Just as Jesus did himself when he appeared to his disciples and ate with them. So what are we planning to do next?

 

The Lord's my shepherd (Townend):  Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version

Click on the Link:  https://youtu.be/pN4tPkX0MG0

 

Prayers of intercession

Lord God who has called us to faith,
in faith we pray for the needs of others.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

Today, we pray for our Queen, who has ruled for as long as many of us can remember, and longer than many of us have lived. In her loss and her grief may she find comfort in the companionship of others, support from family and friends, and strength in her faith in God and life eternal. For all of the Royal family in their grief and change of circumstance, some taking up new responsibilities in new ways and with new purpose, and in their support and upholding of each other.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For all who grieve for the loss of loved ones, family or friends, near or far away. Especially those who are bereaved a long way from family who can't travel to be with them to offer comfort and support. In their loss, in their grief, in their solitude may they find a calm centre and be upheld by their faith, their friendship and their neighbours.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For those whose bodies are ravaged by pain and illness, by disfigurement and disability. For those fearful of treatment and those waiting for treatment.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

We pray for those of faith and those of no faith, for those with purpose and those with no purpose in life. For those who have a clear direction and those who flounder uncertain for life in all its complexities. For those whose mental health causes them pain, anguish, confusion and loneliness, for those who feel abandoned, unwanted, unloved and un-helped.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For countries at war with other countries and within themselves, for their people who fear for their lives and stability, for those made homeless and jobless and offered nothing but an uncertain future. For those countries where violence comes all too easily to the fore and where it is hard to grasp the real reason behind it. Remembering countries at war where their people are damaged, isolated, abused, for Myanmar, Ethiopia, Mozambique and closer to home for the people of Ireland and Northland Ireland, for Catholics and Protestants, those of faith and those of none.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For Christians trying to work out the best way to live out their lives, true to their faith, to the Gospel, to their calling. Trying in these days to do the best they can, pulled this way and that. Trying to look beyond the present to the future, beyond their immediate neighbourhood to the world wide family; help us to catch a wider vision of the needs of the world and its people for unless we are all fed no one is satisfied, unless we are all inoculated no one is safe.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For countries with surging Covid cases, for those with poor infrastructure and resources, for countries with little PPE and no vaccines and no realistic prospect of national immunisation any time soon. For those engaged in trying to resolve such issues no matter what faith, colour, creed, it is their need that needs to be met along with providing sufficient food and housing, safety and stability.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray.

For ourselves we pray that our ears may be used to hear the cries of the needy, that our eyes be used to see the needs around us, that our voices be used to speak up for the marginalised and the poor, that our hands be used to reach out in comfort and that our lives be used to improve the lives of others.

For the world and its people,
Lord, we pray. Amen

 

Praise to The Lord The Almighty:  Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to this version

Click on the Link:  https://youtu.be/lXhxbEjfxxc

 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father,

Who art in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done in earth,

As it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen

 

Pray

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you' –
they responded with turmoil.
Jesus said, ‘Have you anything to eat?' –
they served him fish.
Jesus opened their minds –
they became his witnesses.
So, Lord, may we too find peace in your service,
with opened minds and hearts on fire.
Amen