Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A seven mile conversation. . .

Sermon for Easter 3A, preached on Sunday, April 30, 2017.

    When tragedy strikes, all you want to do is get through it, to get through the next hour, the next day, the next week.  You long to be able to breathe again, to sleep again, to smile again, and to hope again. Amid the sorrow of disappointment live the people who long to forget their pain, who ache with the wounds of their disappointment, who wonder if the scars will heal, and if they will ever find normal life again.  This was what was going on in the life of those disciples walking 7 miles to Emmaus.
    We had hoped Jesus was the One.  Somehow they had seen the cross as tragedy, disappointment, and even the end to their hope. Did they miss the words of Jesus?  Did they forget what the woman had found in the empty tomb?  Or was the pain of His death too much for them to get past?  Who knows?  They were headed back home, to get on with the lives, and to resume their routine of skepticism, disappointment, and fear.
    They had a dream and now they were left with a nightmare - a Savior whom they had seen die and with Him all their hopes and dreams.  What is worse?  Never to hope or to hope and have that hope ripped away from you in disappointment?  You have been there, too.  So have I.  This was a long conversation.  How long does it take to walk seven miles?  They poured out their sorrow to the stranger walking with them who was Jesus.
    But Jesus did not shrug His shoulders or join them in their disappointment.  Jesus did not console them with empty words.  Jesus turned them back to the one Word that cannot disappoint. Jesus pointed them back to that Cross and to the Law and the prophets of Scripture that frame that cross and Calvary.
    Jesus showed them that the cross was not tragedy but triumph, not accident but plan.  God was saving His people and the Crucified One was not a victim but the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Jesus showed them how the holy of holies in the Temple was moved to Calvary and the mercy seat was covered finally with the blood that cleanses us from sin.  Jesus showed them this was God’s plan of salvation.
    Jesus showed them that they old life was gone.  It died with the death of the Savior.  Jesus showed them that the new life had come with the resurrection that makes all things new – even you and me.  Jesus showed them that the cross was not a bad dream to forget but the Gospel to remember and proclaim to the ends of the earth.  And Jesus showed them one thing more.  In the breaking of the bread He revealed that He was that Savior who died and now lived and who has salvation for all.
    Are we so different?  How does the Lord deal with the pain, sadness, and disappointment of our lives?  He points us to the Scriptures showing us the Law and prophets testify to Christ.
He shows us that the cross is not some tragedy but the triumph of the saving will of the One whose blood cleanses us from all our sin.  He reveals the resurrection as the path through which we too shall rise to new and everlasting life where sin and death cannot tread.  He shows us the plan of salvation laid before the foundation of the world.
    And He shows us one more thing.  In the breaking of the bread He reveals Himself .  In the bread of His flesh you taste the true hope that cannot disappoint.  He has tasted of all your disappointment, sin, and death and now you feast upon Him who is Lord of life and hope.  This Jesus fills you with the Holy Spirit, with the fire of His love, with recognition of His voice, and burns into your hearts the joy that knows no end.
    To a people content with recovering a broken past, our Lord bestows a bold new future.  We come here just like those disciples of old.  We have the same conversation of despair and disappointment ringing in our ears.  We have hoped... We dreamed that if... And here we are with Jesus who opens His Word so that He may reveal Himself to us.  It was always the plan and the cross was always the means of our salvation.  Our life would be born of the ashes of Jesus’ suffering and death.  He breaks, He blesses, He bestows the bread of His flesh and the cup of His blood and the Spirit burns within us.
    We burn with the yes of God to our need, with the mercy of God against our sin, with the life of God over the power of death, with the power of God in our weakness, and with the joy of God to end all sorrow.  Every conversation meets us here.  In the bread broken and the cup poured.  Where Christ knows us with the riches of His grace and we know Christ for today, tomorrow, and forever.  Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

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