Theme: Travelling Companions (Walk to Emmaus)
Series: Post Easter 2020
Bible Reading: Luke 24:13-35
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Preached ONLINE – Sunday 26 April, 2020
Watch the Live Stream at https://www.facebook.com/turramurrauniting/live
Kids Church Handout – https://www.turramurrauniting.org.au/download/kids-church-april26/
Make Your Own Poppy – https://www.turramurrauniting.org.au/poppy/
Offering Link – https://www.turramurrauniting.org.au/offering/
Anzac Day Bit
In church chapel
Today, on this Sunday closest to Anzac Day, we pause to acknowledge ANZAC DAY. On a day such as today our minds are focussed on issues of war and peace.
I am here in the chapel of the church … where we have the board of remembrance and the eternal flame. (Did you know that we had these in the chapel? When we are allowed back at the church, come and have a closer look).
As a person of faith, I do feel some tension when it comes to talking about war and honouring those who served. The bible tells us that God has a bias towards peace – Jesus is called the prince of peace and I believe that God hates the fact that war often affects innocent people. But at the same time, God also affirms freedom and standing up for justice, so I think it is right and proper for us to honours those men and women
Such as people whose names are up on our memorial board
And others who served in war for their commitment, sacrifice and mateship on occasions such as ANZAC day.
If you have your poppy with you … you might like to hold it for a moment as we have a closer look at our memorial board … or even better, write the name of one of these people on the back of the poppy. Let’s remember that these were real people, with families and lives … who were willing to stand up for freedom. Let’s remember these people and give thanks.
Eastern Road Memorial
I am now at the Turramurra War Memorial at the memorial park on Eastern Road. There are many, many more names here of people who served. This is where we would normally gather as a community on ANZAC day to remember and it is hard that this is not able to happen this year.
Jesus said in John chapter 15 verse 13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That is the whole purpose of ANZAC day – to acknowledge and give thanks for the brave men and women who were willing to lay down their lives for our sake and for our nations sake.
So today – let us pause and have a moment of silence as we remember the sacrifice of service men and women. Let us remember the fallen.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget
The last stop on my journey is at the Kokoda Memorial … which is just down from my place. This memorial acknowledges not only those who served in PNG during WW2 but also the support and help from the local PNG people.
One of the characteristics of God is his faithfulness. God has promised to always be there for us. The writer of the 23rd Psalm wrote of God, “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.”
This characteristic of faithfulness, of being there for your mates, is also shown in the service men and women – not only those at Kokoda – but all that we honour on ANZAC day.
Let us Pray (adapted from a prayer by Rev Jon Humphries)
Timeless God, Christ of the Cross, Spirit of Peace,
As we pause to reflect on this day
- take us into compassion and understanding.
- may we find ourselves almost walking in the shoes of those we remember.
- may we seek the joys that sustained them in the trials that they faced.
- may we find the courage that empowered them in the suffering they endured.
- may we be inspired to love like the sacrifice that they made.
- may we comprehend the ripples of pain that bounce around the world in response to such disturbance.
- may we learn the lessons which will lead to such things never occurring again.
- may we decide to be better in ourselves, that the world may be better with us in it.
May all this be so we pray. Amen.
PLACE Poppy somewhere in your house where you can remember and give thanks for those who served.
Today in this service I have been doing a bit of travelling … to the church and the memorials and back here. But in this COVID19 era, it is one of the things we are doing much, much less of … travelling. But it is the theme of the bible reading of today. The experience of the journey of the two disciples travelling from Jerusalem back to Emmaus.
So … to warm us up. Have you done much travelling? Is anyone supposed to be travelling right now or soon and can’t?
Where in the world have some of your favourite travelling experiences occurred?
Or for what I am just about to talk about … who are the people that you enjoy travelling with? Or have made travelling experience memorable?
As you are answering that … I am going to tell you a story of a memorable travelling experience with amazing travelling companions. This is a story where all my travelling plans had to change … but that added to the story.
The year is 1991 – when I was only 20 years old (Challenge Accepted) – at a week long camp called the National Christian Youth Convention (or NCYC). At the time I was living at Coolamon (down near Wagga Wagga) and NCYC was at Toowoomba, QLD.
It was an amazing time. Not only did I travel up to Queensland with about 80 young people from the Riverina and Canberra but NCYC had about 2000 young people – including this beautiful young woman I had just fallen in love with. (Yes it was Marion … challenge accepted again). It was an amazing week … and the journey home was going to be great. Our two buses of 80 young people were going to wind back along the beaches and we were going to spend a week just being together.
But on the last day of the conference … I was on my way to the final rally when I was called to the medical tent.
My younger sister (who was 17) had got sick and the doctor had decided that Rahnee too sick to make the bus trip home and was being moved to Toowoomba Hospital. I was to collect all our gear straight away as they had arranged a place for me to stay while my sister was in hospital.
The next hour was pure madness. I frantically found my wife-to-be for a hasty goodbye, told our tour organiser of the change of plans, carried two people’s worth of stuff back to the medical tent then was whisked off and dropped at a total strangers house in a totally strange town, a very long way from home. The implications where enormous. I lived in Coolamon – over 1000km away. Our trip home had just left without us. The support from my friends and Marion had gone. My parent where in Coolamon. My little sister was scared and needed my support. Here I was, a naive twenty-year-old mothers boy thrown headlong into this hopeless situation, a very long way from home. I was lonely, worried, and had a total lack of answers.
There was a line in our bible reading today when the two companions were walking back to Emmaus. Imagine them dragging their feet – quietly talking together about the horrible turn of events they just witnessed. Jesus, their friend (and the one they believed to be the saviour) was killed. It was all over.
And then a person joins them on the journey. A third travelling companion. We don’t know why they didn’t recognise Jesus (I preached on this last year. If you want to understand this a bit more, go back and have a listen) but they accept Jesus into the little travelling group.
Jesus asks the question, “What are you talking about” … pretending not to know what had just happened in Jerusalem … and this question seem to open the floodgates for Cleopas and the other travelling companion. Their grief pours out. They literally dump everything onto Jesus. They share their hopes of Jesus, their pain and loss of his death. It was all summed up in the line which hit me ever time I read it, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
“But we had hoped”. My guess is there’s not a one of us here that hasn’t at one time or another said a phrase similar to that. But we had hoped that it would have turned out differently … it speaks of pain, disillusionment, sadness, hurt…
But we had hoped. I am sure that the families of those men and women whose names are on the War memorials we looked at this morning would have felt a similar thing. We were so proud as they headed off … but we had hoped that they would return alive. But we had hoped..
It was what I was feeling when I was 20, sitting in a stranger’s room with my sister in hospital and my friends heading off on a bus to the beach. But I had hoped to be on that bus. But I had hoped …
Have you had one of these “but I had hoped…” experiences?
- But I had hoped the diagnoses would be better
- But I had hoped I would have kept my job
- But I had hoped that I could have been there
- But I had hoped that things turned out differently
I know that you can relate … this is a place which unfortunately too many of us have been in. My question this morning is … What helps you when you are in a place where hope is fragile or even shattered?
For Cleopas and his friend … they were struggling … dragging their feet as they started the long journey back to Emmaus … but they found that this new travelling companion that had joined them … actually helped.
I want to suggest – that if you have been (or even right now are in) one of these “But I had hoped …” places, then one thing that can be helpful is your travelling companions … they people who are beside you in your pain, or disillusionment, or sadness etc.
For me, as a 20 year old at Toowomba, my travelling companion was this older lady who was asked to billet me for the 5 days my sister was in hospital. I can’t remember her name, but I remember how she cooked for me, helped me, prayed with me. Although I had never met her before, and never seen her since, for those 5 days it was like she was my companion on a tough journey – and she got me through.
For the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus became that supportive travelling companion. Jesus reminds them of “the story” … starting with Moses and the prophets he spoke about God’s love and salvation.
And as they travelled along with this mysterious travelling companion … something changed in these men. Instead of feeling loss and pain, they began to feel an inner warm. Instead of feeling hopeless and disillusioned, they could sense a new hope breaking out. What was going on … the men described it later as their hearts were burning.
There is something about a good travelling companion that can make all the difference. When they arrived at Emmaus and Jesus hinted he was travelling further … Cleopas and his friend begged Jesus to stop with them. Can you see – it had become not about the journey but about the companionship that they craved. It was in the conversations that they had been encouraged … and it was in the breaking of the bread that Jesus was revealed.
The good news is that Jesus – the Risen Jesus – continues to offer to be the companion on the journey. Each of us has a life story … some happy times, some really hard time. Some of us have also felt the broken hope and shattered dreams like the disciples. As just as Jesus was the travelling companion for Cleopas and his friend … Jesus draws near to us too – offering to be a companion as we travel through life.
Jesus offers to walk with us, to listen to us as we share our highs and lows, our joys and our hurts. Jesus genuinely wants to know you and what you are going through.
And then Jesus offers to weave our story into THE story … the story of God’s love for you, the story of salvation, the promises of scripture, the offer of companionship, and the revelation that comes through his presence.
Hear the good news. The Jesus we love and serve is not dead … he is alive … he is our travelling companion … Jesus is journeying right beside us today.