15May

From Easter to Pentecost (Session 1 - Easter)

Over seven weeks, we'll consider scripture that covers the time between the resurrection of the Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. During this first session, we looked at the resurrection as described in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. The passages and a podcast of the discussion are below. 

 

Mark 16:1-8

 

And when the Sabbath had passed, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint his body. And very early on the first day after the Sabbath they went to the tomb just after sunrise. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away for us the stone from the door of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very large. And when they went into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, and he was wearing a white robe. And they were utterly amazed. But he said to them, “Don't be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. See the place where they lay him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, that he is going ahead to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And [the women] fled from the tomb, for they were seized with trembling and bewilderment. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

 

Matthew 28:1-10

 

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men, But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. he is not here; for he has been raised, as he said, Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘he has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

 

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples, Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 

Luke 24:1-12

 

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, and they brought scented herbs and oils which they’d prepared. But they found the stone which had been rolled away from the tomb. And when they went inside, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened when they were at a loss concerning this also, behold two men came and stood by them in clothing that was dazzling. And they became frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, and the men said to them, “Why are you seeking the living among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying that the son of man must be given over into the hand of sinful people and crucified and on the third day, rise.” And they remembered his words. And after they’d returned from the tomb, they announced all these things to the eleven and all the rest. And there was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and the rest of the women who were with them. They said to the apostles these things. And these words appeared to them like nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb and after he’d stooped to look in, he saw the wrappings by themselves, and he went away to his home amazed by what had happened.

 

John 20:1-18

 

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalane came early in the morning, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Now she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve laid him.” Now Peter and the other disciple went out and went to the tomb. And the two of them ran together and the other disciples ran ahead , overtaking Peter, and he came first to the tomb. And when he stooped and peered in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Now Simon Peter also came following him, and he went into the tomb, and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the sudarium, which was on his head, was not lying with the linen wrappings but had been rolled up in a place by itself. Now then the other disciple, the one who was first to the tomb, went in and he saw and he believed. For they did not yet know the scripture that he must rise from death. Now the disciples went back to themselves.

 

And Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping. Now as she weeping, she stooped and peered into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus was laid. And they said this to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They’ve take my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” After she’d said these things, she turned around, and she saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you seeking?” Because she thought he was a gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, then tell me where you laid him, and I myself will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” And after she’d turned around, she said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni” (which means “teacher”). Jesus said to her, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. And go to my brothers [and sisters] and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and my God and your God.” Mary Magadalane went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this he said to me.”

15May

Cove’s Celebration Service - Sunday, May 12, 2019

The members and friends of Cove gathered to worship on Sunday, May 5. Our worship is intended to be a free expression of our love for God and the joy we feel when we accept that love. Of course, there are many ways for us to express that love and joy.

During this service, we started a new series entitled “After the Resurrection.” You see, the resurrection of the Jesus Christ didn’t end with what happened around the empty. According to three of the gospel writers, he made appearances to his disciples and others after he was raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, during this time, he offered some things that are fundamental to how we live as Christians both now and into the future.

 

And so, during the time between Easter and Pentecost, we’re going to look at what Jesus did and taught after the resurrection. Our schedule is below:
April 28 - The Commission (Matthew 28:11-20)
May 5 - The Revelation (Luke 24:13-35)
May 12 - The Promise (Luke 24:36-53)
May 19 - The Inspiration (John 20:19-31)
May 26 - The Challenge (John 21:1-25)
June 2 - The Ascension (Acts 1:1-11)

If you miss one of these messages, you can find a copy and podcast on The Cove Community blog

Our worship service began with an opening video. 

 

Instrumental and vocal music are important to our worship. Songs give us the chance to praise God and to help focus our attention on the theme of the service. During the service, we’ll have the opportunity to sing songs that reflect different musical styles. Since God has called into his church as individuals with a variety of tastes, this offers us the chance to display our sensitivity for our fellow worshipers and to grow in our knowledge of how we might praise God. Our first song was “He Lives!"

 

Our prayers represent our communication with God. Of course, as Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit “...intercedes for us with groans too deep for words”; therefore, God already knows our needs. Still it’s important that we put them into words, as well as the regret we feel for our sins and our thanks for all God has done for us. 

During this service, there were two times when we pray together.  During the Our Congregational Prayer, we confessed our sins and hear the assurance that we're forgiven.  We also have the opportunity to lift our concerns and needs to God.  We close this prayer with The Lord’s Prayer. After we collected the offering, we praised and thanked God for his presence in our church and within our lives. 

 

After our prayer of thanks, Pastor Rudiger used the Luke 24:36-53 to present a message dealing with the appearance of Christ after his resurrection. We focused on what Jesus has given us.

 

Before leaving, we sang our second song, You Promised.

 

A podcast of the entire service is below. Next week, we’ll continue our sermon series entitled After the Resurrection.  The fourth message will focus on The Inspiration (John 20:19-31).

15May

After the Resurrection - The Promise (Luke 24:36-49)

The resurrection of the Jesus Christ didn't end with what happened around the empty. According to three of the gospel writers, he made appearances to his disciples and others after he was raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, during this time, he offered some things that are fundamental to how we live as Christians both now and into the future.

And so, during the time between Easter and Pentecost, we're going to look at what Jesus did and taught after the resurrection. During this third message, we considered the promise given by Jesus in Luke 24:36-49.

 

Have you ever noticed how, every now and then, you hear something that just kind of stops you in your tracks? And even though you’ve thought about it before, for some reason, it just hits you like a two-by-four swung by a three hundred pound guy called “Billy Ray.” Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, I’ve got to tell you, that sort of thing happened to me last week. You see, I had the chance to do something I hadn’t done in a long time. On Friday, I drove Maggie to school. And you know, it was wonderful, because we talked like we used to do when I was taking her to Weirton Heights or Weir Middle. I mean, she was telling me about school and friends and what they were doing in class. And I was loving it, you know, like Homer Simpson at the Frying Dutchman All You Can Eat Buffet. But than she said something that broke that wonderful mood. She said, “And Dad, do you realize that in like a week and a half, I’ll be a senior?” I was crushed. 

 

And I’ll tell you, I think that may be the right frame of mind to have as we approach this next appearance Jesus made after his resurrection. I mean, we’ve already talked about the commission he gave the eleven disciples, there at the end of Matthew. And last week, we focused on how Jesus offered a revelation of himself to those two men on the Emmaus Road. And even though both of those stories are great, they really have the same impact whether you’re feeling good or kind of down. But I think what we’ll see in this passage is different, because as we look at what Jesus gave those disciples in this appearance from Luke, I think it can really help us when we’re feeling afraid and confused, kind of scattered and deflated. 

 

And frankly, I think that’s what makes this passage so important. I mean, I don’t know about y’all, but I’m just not always at the top of my game. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s always the case. My goodness, I feel as though sometimes Spock’s blessing applies directly to me, because I’ve got to tell you, I feel like I’m sure going to live long and I’m definitely prospering. Now, there are plenty of times when that’s exactly how I feel. I’ve bowled a 200 game, and I feel really relaxed doing it. But there are other times that are, well, not as good, you know, when things just aren’t breaking my way and I feel like all I’m doing is spinning my wheels in the mud, relying on some well-meaning senior citizens to push me out and praying for a Tract Rocks rescue. In other words, there are times when life ain’t great, and when that’s the case, what Jesus did and said during the appearance we’re talking about this morning just might help, and I’ll tell you why. Right here, in these verses, I think he gave and gives his disciples four things that could help them and us. And that’s going to be our focus during the rest of the message. 

 

Of course, in Luke, this passage follows his appearance on the Emmaus Road, and as we’ll see, there are a couple of ideas that are found in both stories. But that’s certainly not the case at beginning, because while the two disciples on the road didn’t recognize Jesus when he joined them, the disciples in his next appearance know him right from the start and frankly, it scared the puddin out of them. As Luke wrote, “While Jesus' disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.” [Luke 24:36-37, CEV] Using the words of that great theologian and biblical scholar, Elvis Presley, they were all shook up.

 

But I’ll tell you, it’s right here where Jesus offered his first gift. You see, in spite of their fear, he offered them a tangible hope, in other words, something that was not only concrete and real but one that was also pointed toward the one thing that I believe makes us all a little uncomfortable, and I’m talking about the future. According to Luke, after seeing his disciples shaking in their sandals, “...Jesus said, ‘Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, ‘Do you have something to eat?’ They gave him a piece of baked fish. He took it and ate it as they watched.” [Luke 24:38-43, CEV] Now that’s what happened. And the tangible part, well, that’s pretty obvious. I mean, not only was Jesus concrete enough that they could see the nail prints in his hands and feet, they watched him eat fish for crying out loud, what I think was probably fillet of sole (Get it, fillet of sole). That’s about as tangible as you can get. And even though it might not mean a lot to us now-a-days, it was really, and I mean, really important back then, because the Jews in the day believed that eternal life was only possible after the body and soul rose together, something they called the resurrection of the dead. And this was really important to them. As Paul wrote, “So if the dead won’t be raised to life, Christ wasn’t raised to life. Unless Christ was raised to life, your faith is useless, and you are still living in your sins. And those people who died after putting their faith in him are completely lost. If our hope in Christ is good only for this life, we are worse off than anyone else. But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. Just as we will die because of Adam, we will be raised to life because of Christ. Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us. But we must each wait our turn. Christ was the first to be raised to life, and his people will be raised to life when he returns. Then after Christ has destroyed all powers and forces, the end will come, and he will give the kingdom to God the Father.” [1 Corinthians 15:16-24, CEV] You see, the resurrected Jesus gave his disciples a tangible, a concrete, a real reason to hope as they looked forward into a murky future. And I’ll tell you what, this is something we can also claim when we wonder about our ultimate destinies. A tangible hope, that’s the first thing the risen Christ gave and gives.

 

And second, he also gave what I think it an extremely comforting lesson. My goodness, just think about what those disciples must have been thinking and feeling before Jesus showed up. They’d invested a lot of time and faith in this man, expecting that something important was going to happen. And now, it all seemed to be so much nonsense. I mean, no wonder this was what Luke wrote after Jesus had died. “A crowd had gathered to see the terrible sight. Then after they had seen it, they felt brokenhearted and went home. All of Jesus' close friends and the women who had come with him from Galilee stood at a distance and watched.” [Luke 23:48-49, CEV] I think confusion would be an understatement. But I’ve got to believe some of that confusion was lifted and some clarity returned when “Jesus said to them, ‘While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms had to happen.’ Then he helped them understand the Scriptures.” [Luke 24:4-45, CEV] Just like he did with those two guys we talked about last week, Jesus opened the eyes and the minds of his disciples so that they could understand, you know, understand that the crucifixion was part of a bigger plan and that even though they were confused, that’s OK, because God was still in control. And you know, when we’re confused and discouraged about what’s going on in our world and community, in our marriages and families, man, even in our own lives, we can listen to the same comforting lesson he gave his disciples almost two thousand years ago. And for me, that’s the second thing Jesus gave and gives.

 

And third, after the tangible hope and comforting lesson, Jesus gave those disciples an extremely clear mission. In other words, he told them exactly what they were suppose to say and do. According to Luke, “He told them: The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, you must tell everything that has happened.” [Luke 24:46-48, CEV] Now this was what he told them to say and do. And you know what; they did it. Just listen to what Peter said in his first sermon, the one he preached in Jerusalem: “Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved that he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this. God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power.” [Acts 2:22-24, CEV] And this was what Paul preached: “Now listen, you descendants of Abraham! Pay attention, all of you Gentiles who are here to worship God! Listen to this message about how to be saved, because it is for everyone. The people of Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t realize who Jesus was. And they didn’t understand the words of the prophets that they read each Sabbath. So they condemned Jesus just as the prophets had said. After Jesus had been put to death, he was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. But God raised him from death! Then for many days Jesus appeared to his followers who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about him. My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The Law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins. But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free.” [Acts 13:26-27, 29b-31, 38-39, CEV] Now that’s Paul. And as it relates to us, when we feel scattered and aren’t sure what to do, here it is. In other words, if this congregation is about anything other than sharing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship that’s been created by the Holy Spirit, if we have some higher priority than sharing that message through our words and actions, we should close this place right now, because we’ve stopped doing God’s work. Why do I say that? Well, it’s because right here we’ve got a clear mission. And that’s the third thing that Jesus gave and gives.

 

And finally, he gave them something that I’m calling an inspiring promise, and brothers and sisters, you can take that literally. And even though, when compared to the others, it’s by far the shortest, I believe it’s the most important, because it makes possible everything we’re called to do. Jesus said, “I will send you the one my Father has promised, but you must stay in the city until you are given power from heaven.” [Luke 24:49, CEV] And what was this power from heaven? Just listen. “On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.” [Acts 2:1-4, CEV] And as the Apostle Paul wrote, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” [1 Corinthians 12:4-7, CEV] And to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:22-25, CEV] According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit was coming. But what was for them an inspiring promise, well, for us, it’s a reality. You see, that’s what Jesus gave and has given to us.

 

 

And I’ll tell you, when life isn’t what we’d like it to be, this is some of the stuff I think we need to remember. You see, when we’re feeling afraid and confused, scattered and deflated, I believe it’s important to hear what Jesus said to another bunch of disciples who felt the same way. Simply put, we need to hear him give them a tangible hope and a comforting lesson, a clear mission and an inspiring promise that for us is now a reality. And even though these gifts may not block out the vision of my daughter graduating or of a van full of people getting stuck in the mud, they just might help. And next week, we’re going to shift our focus to the Gospel of John and consider what I think you can call the inspiration.

10May

Women’s Club Service in the Weirton Geriatric Center - Thursday, May 9, 2019

On Thursday, May 9, I lead a little discussion on how Mothers Day can remind us of God's love for us all in the Weirton Geriatric Center. Below is a podcast of my talk and a couple of selfies.

 

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10May

The Wedding Service for Marco Torreano and Emily Hauser, Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On Wednesday, May 8, I officiated the wedding of Marco Torreano and Emily Hauser on the West End Overlook, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Below is a podcast of and a couple of pictures from the service. If you're planning your wedding and need an officiant, please give me a call at 304-479-3402.

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9May

The American Century (Session 6 - The Future)

The 1900s have been called the American Century, because of the influence the United States had over international relationships. During this 6-session series, we'll look at the different approaches to foreign policy shown over the last the 100 years. We'll also consider the role the United States will play in the future.

 

On Wednesday, May 8, I led a discussion of American foreign policy after the Cold War and into the future. Below are the PowerPoint slides and a podcast of our discussion.

 

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9May

Reformed Theology A La Rudiger

On Tuesday, May 7, at 6:30 p.m., Pastor Rudiger shared his application of Reformed Theology.

9May

Cove’s Celebration Service - Sunday, May 5, 2019

The members and friends of Cove gathered to worship on Sunday, May 5. Our worship is intended to be a free expression of our love for God and the joy we feel when we accept that love. Of course, there are many ways for us to express that love and joy.

During this service, we started a new series entitled “After the Resurrection.” You see, the resurrection of the Jesus Christ didn’t end with what happened around the empty. According to three of the gospel writers, he made appearances to his disciples and others after he was raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, during this time, he offered some things that are fundamental to how we live as Christians both now and into the future.

 

And so, during the time between Easter and Pentecost, we’re going to look at what Jesus did and taught after the resurrection. Our schedule is below:
April 28 - The Commission (Matthew 28:11-20)
May 5 - The Revelation (Luke 24:13-35)
May 12 - The Promise (Luke 24:36-53)
May 19 - The Inspiration (John 20:19-31)
May 26 - The Challenge (John 21:1-25)
June 2 - The Ascension (Acts 1:1-11)

If you miss one of these messages, you can find a copy and podcast on The Cove Community blog

Our worship service began with an opening video. 

 

Instrumental and vocal music are important to our worship. Songs give us the chance to praise God and to help focus our attention on the theme of the service. During the service, we’ll have the opportunity to sing songs that reflect different musical styles. Since God has called into his church as individuals with a variety of tastes, this offers us the chance to display our sensitivity for our fellow worshipers and to grow in our knowledge of how we might praise God. Our first song was “He Lives!"

 

Our prayers represent our communication with God. Of course, as Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit “...intercedes for us with groans too deep for words”; therefore, God already knows our needs. Still it’s important that we put them into words, as well as the regret we feel for our sins and our thanks for all God has done for us. 

 

During this service, there were two times when we pray together.  During the Our Congregational Prayer, we confessed our sins and hear the assurance that we're forgiven.  We also have the opportunity to lift our concerns and needs to God.  We close this prayer with The Lord’s Prayer. After we collected the offering, we praised and thanked God for his presence in our church and within our lives. During the collection, the video, "Gaither Vocal Band - The Road to Emmaus" played.

 

After our prayer of thanks, Pastor Rudiger used the Luke 24:13-35 to present a message dealing with the appearance of Christ after his resurrection. We focused on how we might prepare ourselves for and respond to God's revelation.

 

Before leaving, we sang our second song, "I Can See (On the Emmaus Road)."

 

A podcast of the entire service is below. Next week, we’ll continue our sermon series entitled After the Resurrection.  The third message will focus on The Promise (Luke 24:36-53).

 

9May

After the Resurrection - The Revelation (Luke 24:13-35)

The resurrection of the Jesus Christ didn't end with what happened around the empty. According to three of the gospel writers, he made appearances to his disciples and others after he was raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, during this time, he offered some things that are fundamental to how we live as Christians both now and into the future.

And so, during the time between Easter and Pentecost, we're going to look at what Jesus did and taught after the resurrection. During this second message, we considered the revelation given by Jesus in Luke 24:13-35.

 

Now before I start, I need to clear up some stuff that you may have been worried about this past week, especially in light of what I said last Sunday. You don’t have to worry anymore; I saw Avengers: Endgame at 9:30, Monday morning. And it was great, especially if you like super heroes and talking raccoons and all kinds of creatures of varying colors, shapes and sizes. Now, just out of curiosity, how many have y’all already seen the movie? Well, when you do (and notice I said when, not if),  when you do, you might want to watch Ant Man and the Wasp first. Just saying.

 

And so, with that taken care of, this morning we’re going to look at another appearance Jesus made after his resurrection. And as I hope y’all who were here remember, last week we started this series by considering what happened in the Gospel of Matthew and how Jesus commissioned his disciples, which includes us. In a nutshell, he said, as we’re living our lives out in the real world, we’ve been called and equipped to disciple the nations by reminding them that change is possible and then by showing folks how they might better love God and neighbor. According to what Jesus said at the end of Matthew, that’s our commission.

 

And this morning, we’re going shift our focus to the first of two passages we’ll look from the Gospel of Luke. And we’re going to start with a story that’s unique to Luke, something that he puts right after the resurrection itself, namely Jesus’s appearance to two of his disciples on the road from Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus. And in the same way we used his appearance to the eleven on that mountain top in Matthew this morning we’re going to see what this story from Luke says about God’s continuing revelation to us. Now that’s going to be our focus today.

 

And to understand how this revelation happens, it’s really important to understand what happened back in the day.In other words, we need to go through the story, right; which is exactly what we’re going to do. And you know, like any good writer, right at the beginning, Luke introduced not only the location and the main characters but also a little bit of the plot. He wrote, “That same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they were talking and thinking about what had happened, Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. But they did not know who he was.” [Luke 24:13-16, CEV] They just didn’t know. 

 

But even though they don’t recognize him, Jesus immediately got involved in their conversation, you know, giving them the chance to share what they already knew and what they were still thinking about. “Jesus asked them, ‘What were you talking about as you walked along?’ The two of them stood there looking sad and gloomy. Then the one named Cleopas asked Jesus, ‘Are you the only person from Jerusalem who didn’t know what was happening there these last few days?’ ‘What do you mean?’ Jesus asked. They answered: ‘Those things that happened to Jesus from Nazareth. By what he did and said he showed that he was a powerful prophet, who pleased God and all the people. Then the chief priests and our leaders had him arrested and sentenced to die on a cross. We had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free! But it has already been three days since all this happened. Some women in our group surprised us. They had gone to the tomb early in the morning, but did not find the body of Jesus. They came back, saying that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some men from our group went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said. But they didn’t see Jesus either.’” [Luke 24:17-24, CEV] Now that’s what they said. 

 

And although they got the basic story right, what they shared really didn’t have much depth. In other words, they knew the facts but couldn’t see the meaning, at least not yet. And so Luke continued. “Then Jesus asked the two disciples, ‘Why can’t you understand? How can you be so slow to believe all that the prophets said? Didn’t you know that the Messiah would have to suffer before he was given his glory?’ Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets. When the two of them came near the village where they were going, Jesus seemed to be going farther. They begged him, ‘Stay with us! It’s already late, and the sun is going down.’ So Jesus went into the house to stay with them.” [Luke 24:25-29, CEV] Now I’ve got to tell you, I find this kind of interesting, because not only did Cleopas and his buddy listen to this stranger, they asked him to stay with them. You see, in spite of initially thinking that this guy was the only person in Jerusalem who didn’t know about what had happened, they were still interested in what he had to say. 

 

And it was there, in that house, that something amazing, something miraculous happened. According to Luke, “After Jesus sat down to eat, he took some bread. He blessed it and broke it. Then he gave it to them. At once they knew who he was, but he disappeared.” [Luke 24:30-31, CEV] Now that’s what happened. After Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it, something that sounds a lot like what we did last week when we celebrated communion, they immediately recognized him. But to understand how miraculous this was, I think it’s important to go back to the original Greek, because this business about how they knew him actually reads, “and their eyes were opened.” In other words, it wasn’t that they suddenly decided to pay closer attention or that what Jesus had been saying finally broke through. No, that’s not it at all. Instead their eyes were opened by God. It’s like that old hymn: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but know I see.” Man, that’s what happened to those two guys. They were blind, but then, bang, the revelation of God, and suddenly they could see. 

 

And once they could see, they could understand; therefore, they didn’t need to Jesus to be talking with them from across the table anymore. Instead, now it was up to them to decide how they were going to respond. Luke continued: “They said to each other, ‘When he talked with us along the road and explained the Scriptures to us, didn’t it warm our hearts?’ So they got right up and returned to Jerusalem. The two disciples found the eleven apostles and the others gathered together. And they learned from the group that the Lord was really alive and had appeared to Peter. Then the disciples from Emmaus told what happened on the road and how they knew he was the Lord when he broke the bread.” [Luke 24:32-35, CEV] Now that’s the revelation of Jesus Christ on the Emmaus road.

 

And like I said a little while ago, I think this can tell us an awful lot about how God enables us to see and to understand his love and mercy and grace, and I’m talking about right now. As a matter of fact, I think it says something pretty important about this whole revelation business and about it relates to us. For example, based on what happened here, I think it’s clear that God’s revelation is beyond our control. In other words, it’s not like water coming from a spigot or the Avengers going back in time or Jules letting Pumpkin and Honey Bun leave the diner. When it comes to seeing much less finding God, we just can’t do it on our own. You see, Luke didn’t say that they opened their eyes. Instead he wrote that their eyes were opened. The verb is passive. This was the work of God. And I’ll tell you, this same sort of thing will happen to Paul when he was preaching in Philippi. Luke wrote in Acts, “Then on the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to a place by the river, where we thought there would be a Jewish meeting place for prayer. We sat down and talked with the women who came. One of them was Lydia, who was from the city of Thyatira and sold expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of the Lord God, and he made her willing to accept what Paul was saying.” [Acts 16:13-14, CEV] In fact, Jesus will do the same thing for the other disciples when he appears to them in the passage we’ll look at next week. Luke wrote, “Jesus said to them, ‘While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms had to happen.’ Then he helped them understand the Scriptures.” [Luke 24:44-45, CEV] 

You see, it’s God who opens eyes and minds and hearts; therefore, when and how and why we receive his revelation is beyond our control. And that’s something we can see in this story.

 

But even though that’s just the way it is, I think the Emmaus Road shows two things that we can control. For example, first, we can be ready to understand it, you know, when the sudden insight comes. In other words, there are some things we can do that will prepare ourselves to get the most out a revelation when it does occur. You see, just like Cleopas and his friend decided to walk with Jesus and even invited him to stay with them in the house, if we’re interested in seeing God, we can choose to be in the best place at the best time. And even though I firmly believe that God is present everywhere, I think most of us would agree that odds of encountering him in a special way are higher in some places than others. What do they say about real estate: location, location, location. But even more important than place, before we have any glimpse of glory, I believe we really need to be open. Frankly, I believe the greatest threat to both the democracy we’ve enjoyed for over two hundred years and the faith we’ve claimed for almost two thousand years is this idea that we should listen only to those people who tell us what we want to hear and entertain only those ideas that confirm what we already believe. I’m telling you, if we’ve decided to wear blinders, even if our eyes have been opened, we’re only going to see what’s right in front of us. You see, if we’re serious about encountering God, we might want to be in the best place with right attitude. That’s one way we can get ourselves ready.

 

And then second, after God has opened our eyes and we suddenly understand things we couldn’t before, we can be ready to respond. For example, just like those two guys on the road, we can decide to spend a little time thinking about our experience with God, but not as a way to explain or rationalize it. Rather, we can take it for what it is. And we can treasure the encounter itself and reflect on how it might affected us.  And we can study on what it might teach us about ourselves and about our God and about how we might respond to him. I mean, isn’t that what they did? Sure it is, but that’s not all. We can also follow their example by sharing it, you know, telling others. And when you think about it, why wouldn’t we want to do that? I mean, if we’ve experienced something wonderful, why wouldn’t we want to share some of that wonder with our Christian brothers and sisters? Who knows, maybe through our experience, God may open the eyes of someone else. And that’s exactly we can get ourselves ready to do, after our eyes have been opened. 

 

You see, when those two men encountered Jesus Christ after his resurrection, they offer us some direction that we can claim. I mean, even though God’s revelation is beyond our control, we can get ourselves ready to understand by being in the best place and having the right attitude. But more than that, we can also get ourselves ready to respond by spending a little time thinking about what happened and then by sharing it with others. And this is what I believe we can take from that revelation on the Emmaus Road. And next week, we’ll talk about the next appearance Jesus makes in the Gospel of Luke and focus on the promise that he offered.

7May

The Wedding Service for George Coddington and Linda Parsons, Saturday, May 4, 2019

On Saturday, May 4, I officiated the wedding of George Coddington and Linda Parsons in the McKeesport Rose Garden. Below is a podcast of and a couple of pictures from the service. If you're planning your wedding and need an officiant, please give me a call at 304-479-3402.

 

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