Readings—Acts 2: 14a, 36-41; Psalm 116: 1-3, 10-17; I Peter 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 13-35
My thoughts this morning begin with the words of our proper collect –
Open the eyes of our faith that we may behold [God] in all [the] redeeming work…
The Risen Jesus invites us as baptized members of his risen body, of this community the Church, to join him, to partner with him, in his redeeming work. Redemption is simply stated as making all life holy, making all life sacred. In our readings today we find at least five avenues of redeeming work.
The first avenue. From the Psalmist we read these words, v. 14:
O Lord God, I am your servant; I am your servant and the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.
As the servants of God, we strive to put service before our own self-interests. As you have heard me say before, “sin” has “I” in the middle, at the center. Service is when we partner with Jesus, who on his last day of freedom, took off his outer garments, and got a basin and a pitcher of water. He knelt down before his disciples, and he washed their tired, dusty, and dirty, feet. He used his freedom to serve others. As our lives are spent in service, we make holy, we make sacred, the lives we touch.
The second avenue. From Peter’s first letter, we read these words:
…mutual love. Love one another deeply from the heart.
Certainly, using a gun on a wrong house grocery delivery, on a stranger at the door, on someone turning around on a driveway, or chasing a runaway basketball does not reflect a love of one another. How did we get this way? I do not know. We were created to love in expanding concentric circles as we mature. We begin with mother and with father, and then to expanded family and beyond. Maturity is reached when we can affirm all as holy, all as sacred, sisters and brothers.
The third avenue. We are to eat together, yes, eat together. When did the fearful, fleeing disciples recognize Jesus? He was recognized as they gathered at the table for an evening meal. Gathering at the table, sharing coffee, sharing scrambled eggs, sharing baloney sandwiches, sharing fish and chips, is when we also share the stuff of our lives with others. Study after study tells us that we live longer quality lives in a community. And there are these words from the very beginning of our sacred texts:
male and female God created them… It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper as his partner… And the rib that the Lord God had taken from man [God] made into woman.
So, we find partners to eat with and to share our lives. In communities of conversation life is made holy, life is made sacred.
The fourth avenue. The Emmaus Road disciples recognized Jesus when he took the bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread, and shared the bread. They could not sit still. Rather, they got up from the table, and they ran back to Jerusalem to share the joy.
Sharing joy was not something I learned to do early in life, English and German stock. We shared joy quietly, and only with the closest of family. It was restrained so that it would not become “bragging”. I had to learn how to share joy, and how to invite others to share it with me. I am still learning how to share joy.
We share joy in the passing of the peace as we did last Sunday. We greeted one another with smiles, eye contact, and with handshakes. It felt really good, and I did not realize how much I missed it during the COVID crisis. Perhaps we all need to share our joy more fully in our daily lives. We can greet people wherever we find ourselves with “hello”s and smiles. And with friends, we can eliminate the “ain’t it awful” conversations and replace them with the sharing of joys. Sharing joys makes life sacred again, makes life holy again.
The final and fifth avenue. The experience of the holy, of the sacred, is most obvious from the Emmaus Road reading. Jesus is recognized in the taking, in the blessing, in the breaking, and in the sharing of the bread. Time is sacred, and time is holy when we re-create those same four acts as we celebrate each Sunday. We experience the presence of Jesus among us. We need to claim this time as essential for our well-being. For those not able to be present, the taking of the sacrament is part of our community’s sharing of joy. Gary, Terry and Bob, and Janice take our joy to others through the Holy Communion. Thank you.
Today’s readings encourage us to expand more fully the holy, to expand more fully the sacred, into our day-to-day living.
May we expand our sense of service.
May we deepen our love for others.
May we eat and drink together.
May we share our joys.
May we take, bless, break, and share the bread at worship.
Truly, God is among us always.
Let us grow in our awareness of the holy, our awareness of the sacred, each and every day.