Revised Common Lectionary: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
Narrative Lectionary: Emmaus Road, Luke 24:13-35 (Psalm 30)
During the season of Easter, the Revised Common Lectionary uses selections from the Acts of the Apostles instead of the Hebrew Scripture reading. The early church, in the days after Pentecost, came together through the Holy Spirit and shared all that they had. Reflecting Acts 2:42-47, the early believers brought everything they had to hold in common, not claiming private ownership of anything. No one went hungry or in need, because everyone cared for each other. This sense of communal responsibility, however, was short lived. In the following chapter, two early leaders held back some of their property and lied about it, and Paul wrote to the church in Corinth because of the abuses at the Lord’s table, where some feasted and some went hungry. However, this was the ideal, and the hope, and how the Holy Spirit moved the people to live and care together.
Psalm 133 is a brief psalm, perhaps shared at a wedding: a blessing when family comes together and lives in harmony. It is like an anointing from God, the way the priest Aaron was anointed with oil, or the way God refreshes the hillsides with dew. When family joins together and lives in unity, it is a blessing ordained by God.
The letter of 1 John begins with the writer’s intentions: to testify to the life revealed in Jesus Christ. From the same community as the author of John’s gospel account, the writer uses the same imagery as John’s gospel in identifying Jesus and God with light. The writer addresses their audience by beginning with confession: we cannot be in community with one another when we participate in sin. If we say we are without sin, we are deceiving ourselves. Instead, if we come before Christ and confess our sins, we will receive forgiveness. For Jesus came as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and we have an advocate in Christ and in God the Father.
John’s account of the resurrection continues in 20:19-31. On the evening of the same day that the tomb was found empty, the disciples had gathered together in fear of some of the religious leaders (we must be careful to read and interpret John’s account, knowing that the disciples, Jesus, and the writer of John were all Jewish as well). Jesus appeared before them, the first appearance to the disciples after the resurrection besides Mary—except Thomas wasn’t with them. It’s important to follow Thomas’ story. Back in chapter 11, he is ready to go to Jerusalem to die with Jesus. However, by chapter 14, Thomas is unsure of what Jesus is saying. When Jesus tells them they know the way, Thomas argues they do not know the way. Jesus then tells them that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Thomas started off as a strong, faithful disciple, but grew uncertain and questioned what Jesus said. And it’s only after a second appearance that Thomas believes. Jesus then declares that those who have not seen but have come to believe are blessed—an indication to the reader/listener who has not seen the risen Christ that it is more blessed to believe without seeing.
The Narrative Lectionary follows Luke’s account of the resurrection, which also continues in Luke 24:13-35. Two travelers leaving Jerusalem for Emmaus encounter a stranger, who seems to not know what has happened in Jerusalem. After the two explain to the stranger why they are dismayed after Jesus was killed, the traveler explains to them how foolish they are for not believing and understanding the scripture. Near the end of the day, when they reach Emmaus, the two urge the stranger to stay with him, and as they prepare to eat, the stranger takes bread and breaks it—and then they recognize Jesus, but he vanishes from their sight. They travel all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. The other disciples share that Jesus has appeared to Simon Peter. The two travelers tell the others what happened, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Psalm 30 is a song of praise for God who has saved the psalmist from impending death. Though death and mourning seemed a certainty, God’s faithfulness led to joy and redemption. God turned the psalmist’s mourning into dancing and answered the prayer of the faithful servant.
In these Sundays after Easter, we have to move from the amazing glory and awe of the resurrection into how we experience the risen Christ in our own daily lives. In the breaking of the bread. In the unexpected guest. In finding joy again after a period of mourning. In our enduring faith, even when things are hard, that the risen Christ is among us, and calls us to continue to tell the story.
Call to Worship
In our uncertainty,
Christ goes before us.
In our doubts,
Christ remains with us.
In our fear,
Christ surrounds us.
In our hope,
Christ is within us.
In this time of worship
We strive to follow Jesus, who leads us into life.
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Faithful One, we confess our questions, our struggles, and our doubts. We know that You do not condemn us for this, but sometimes we feel bad. We wish our faith was stronger. We wish we had more certainty, or needed less of it. However, You love us unconditionally, and You have encouraged us to ask questions and to seek deeper meanings. Remind us that You continue to be with us in our journey of faith, through our doubts and uncertainty. You are the one who leads us in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Through Jesus Christ we pray all things. Amen.
Blessing/Assurance (from Lamentations 3:22-23)
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” God’s steadfast love never ends. God loves you, right now, and will always love you. There is no place you can hide, no place you can get lost, where God will not be with you. You are loved, forgiven, and restored. Live into God’s ways, knowing that you can’t shake God from you, so learn to live with God. Amen.
Everlasting God, we struggle with time. There is never enough, it is always fleeting, and moments we dread still last too long. Help us to understand Your time is not chronos, chronological time, but Kairos time, a time out of time. Help us to live into Kairos moments, where we stop looking at our phones and our watches and instead live into that space, breathing deep Your spirit, being thankful for those present and for what we have. Call us into Your pace of life, and help us to find Your rhythm, where we let go of busy-ness and instead live into Your sabbath gift. In the name of Christ, who called us to live differently, to become last of all, servant of all, to love one another and to live as Your children, we pray. Amen.