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Order of Service - 26 April 2020 Audio

Following new guidance by the Diocese, live-streaming from the Church is at the moment not allowed. Prayers, readings and reflections are available below:

Third Sunday of Easter 26 April

The Third Sunday of Easter

Today's Sermon is available as an audio recording here. Press play to start.

Audio file

Third Sunday of Easter

Love

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guiltie of dust and sinne.

But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lack'd any thing.

 

A guest I answer'd, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them, let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not ,says Love, who bore the blame?

My deare, then I will serve.

You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.

 

George Herbert, Seventeenth Century Priest and Poet.

 

Collect

Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained with his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

 

Readings

Acts 2:14,36-41, 1 Peter 1:17-23, Luke:24:13-35.

 

Prayers

May our hearts burn with faith as we feel the Lord's presence.

We pray for the sick and all who with compassion and courage seek to care for them. We pray especially for;Otto Lein, Charlie Chesser and Bill Scott.

We pray for those who are with Christ in the eternal feast of his love. We pray especially for David Johnson, Priest, recently dead.

 

The Mystery of faith, hope, and love

Audio file available

His disciples on the road to Emmaeus did not recognise him. Their talk was all about the remarkable and seismic events that had happened in Jerusalem two days before. Yet with all their talk and all their speculation still they did not recognise him as he fell in beside them, walked with them and talked with them. Even when he explained to them how all that had happened fitted with the Old Testament prophesy, still they did not recognise him and they must have heard him speak and preach countless times. Yet when they sat down at table and ”he took bread and said the blessing then he broke it and handed it to them,”[1] the veil fell from their eyes and they recognised him. They recognised him in “the breaking of the bread.” And they recognised him in the breaking of the bread because that is how he told them that he would remain with them and be recognised by them. That his disciples should not be left comfortless Christ had instituted the sacrament of himself under the forms of the simplest and most accessible of elements, bread and wine. They may not quite have understood the significance of his actions at the Last Supper but now it became clear. They had taken his actions and words on trust and in faith. They eyes of faith now had given them the answers.

The Resurrection is a mystery of faith. Christ has died: Christ is Risen: Christ will come again. The disciples did not know exactly what really happened. By Our Lord’s appearances, by his breaking of bread, by feeling his wounds in hands, feet and side, they knew the outcome, they knew that Christ had risen and went about among them. But they did not understand the process. Nor do we know how it happened. We know the outcome: we have had two thousand years of history to tell us that. But we can share something of the bewilderment of the first disciples: of Mary Magdalene finding the tomb empty: of her mistaking the Risen Lord for the gardener: of S. Peter and S. John arriving breathless and uncomprehending at the tomb. We can share something of the incredulity of S. Thomas who had to see to believe. Doubts and hesitations are only natural in the face of such an unspeakable and unsearchable mystery. We approach this mystery of the Resurrection, as other mysteries of our religion, with faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”[2]

We have faith in the God who humbled himself in the manger and who submitted himself to the gross indignity of the Cross, in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. That faith, rooted in history and experience and revelation asserts that the Resurrection is the crowning truth of our faith, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community, established and handed on as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the Cross. “O truly blessed night,” sings the Deacon in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead.”[3] There were no eye witnesses to the Resurrection, other than the legions of angels, no Evangelist describes it. None can say how, physically, it came about. Still less was its innermost essence, the passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the Apostles' encounters with the Risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends time. That is why the Risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world but to his disciples, to the chosen few, the believing community, the new chosen race, the community of faith whose responsibility it is to make him known to the world. Christ is given to us in his Body and Blood within the fold but it is our responsibility, fed by him, to go out into the world to proclaim the Good News and to bring his message of salvation and hope to all.

The Resurrection is a mystery of faith and it is a mystery of hope. It brings the hope of transformation, the transformation of ourselves and the transformation of the world. It asserts the hope that our mortal lives will not end in emptiness and nihilism but in light and eternal salvation. It is the sure and certain hope that the Risen Christ offers an end to the old corruption and the dawn of a new creation. It is the hope that the dust of the cross traced on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday to remind us of our mortality will be transformed and glorified by the wood of the Cross upon which the Saviour died that we might live. The Resurrection signals that our destiny is the glorification of our dust into the eternal light of Christ and the transformation of our mortal nature to live everlastingly in him. In a world which seems mad or bad, stricken as it currently is, this perfect act in an imperfect world provides a glimpse of heaven beyond the prosaic and the ordinary, beyond the pain and distress. As Christ descends on the altar, for a moment time and eternity meet, heaven and earth touch, the Holy Spirit descends as the Divine Victim is offered up. As the Sacred Host is elevated we see in adoration Jesus in his sacramental flesh, the Jesus who is with us and the Jesus who is risen, ascended and glorified. Cruel circumstances mean that we cannot witness that in our parish this morning but we know that there is no other pledge, no clearer sign of this hope of our destiny than in this Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. Every time this sacramental mystery is celebrated, “the world of our redemption is carried on [it is] the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ.”[4] And we are able to hope because God gave his love to his Son without condition.

The Resurrection is a mystery of faith: it is a mystery of hope: and it is a mystery of love. It signals the victory of love over evil and death won on the Cross where Christ fought the ultimate battle and won the ultimate victory. There was no greater love than this, that Christ, in perfect innocence, should die out of love for us. The triumph of his self-sacrificial love - and what is love but self-sacrifice? - was encapsulated in his final words on the Cross: “It is finished. It is accomplished. It is consummated.”[5] It is a love affair like no other. That limitless self-giving love suffered on the Cross continues to be poured out for us born out of God’s infinite capacity of forgiveness and love. The Resurrection is a mystery of faith, a mystery of hope and a mystery of love. The Resurrection which we continue to celebrate makes it impossible for the story of humankind, for our story, to end in chaos. Rather, it has to move in faith and hope inevitably towards light, towards life and towards love.

 

[1] S. Luke 24: 30

[2] Hebrews 11: 1

[3] O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua ad inferis resurrexit.

[4] S. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle ad Ephesus 20, 2: SCh 10, 26

[5] S. John 19: 30