Prayers, Readings and Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Easter

26th April 2020

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Confession

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord, we come to you in sorrow for our sins, and confess to you our weakness and unbelief. We have lived by our own strength, and not by the power of your resurrection. In your mercy, forgive us. Lord, hear us and help us. We have lived by the light of our own eyes, as faithless and not believing. In your mercy, forgive us. Lord, hear us and help us. We have lived for this world alone, and doubted our home in heaven. In your mercy, forgive us. Lord, hear us and help us. May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the day

Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father. Amen.

Old Testament Reading:
Zephaniah 3: 14-20
Psalm:
Psalm 116: 1-7
New Testament Reading:
Acts 2: 14a, 36-41
Gospel Reading:
Luke 24: 13-35

Reflection by the Revd Ola Franklin, Vicar

Most of us have probably had the experience of striking up conversations with strangers – perhaps we started chatting (from a safe distance of course) when we were waiting in a supermarket queue; or we may remember talking to the person sitting next to us on a long train journey.

The Gospel of Luke tells us the story of two people on a journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus; they met a ‘stranger’ along the way who struck up a conversation with them. The two on the road – Cleopas and his companion – were in a state of bewilderment and uncertainty, mixed with shock and sadness because of the crucifixion of Jesus. Perhaps they felt there was nothing more they could do, so they decided to go home. But the walk to Emmaus was going to be a journey that those two disciples would never forget. The ‘stranger’ was of course the risen Jesus, but the two on the road didn’t recognise him until much later on.

The two travellers told this stranger about their shattered hopes, and he listened and let them talk. Like those two disciples, almost all of us have to face the experience of shattered hopes; some of us have to face shattered hopes on several occasions in our lifetime. It might be a broken relationship; a lost job; a serious illness which limits what we're able to do; a failed ambition, or a lost loved one.

But, like the two disciples, we can tell God just how we feel and share with him our feelings of disappointment, hurt and anger - and then open ourselves up to receive his response. He is willing to listen to us as we pray. He chooses his own time to reveal himself and sometimes he meets with us in unexpected ways or teaches us important things through unusual situations. Often God is right there, at work in our particular situation, even if we don't recognise his work at the time.

When the travellers arrived at Emmaus they invited their new friend to stay with them; he broke bread with them at the table and “their eyes were opened” – they recognised Jesus.

What a day it must have been for those followers of Jesus! First the despair they had felt since the day he was crucified; then the puzzlement about the empty tomb; then the sheer joy of meeting the risen Lord himself.

The followers of Jesus learned that God can turn around a seemingly hopeless situation; and he can do so for us as well. We’ll still have to face problems and difficulties like everyone else – but Jesus can meet with us in the darkest situations and transform the way we face them.

Prayers

Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you. In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love, for your name’s sake. Amen. Merciful God, we entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in pain, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. Comfort and heal them, and restore them to health and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Gracious God, give skill, sympathy and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. I am giving you worship with all my life, I am giving you obedience with all my power, I am giving you praise with all my strength, I am giving you honour with all my speech. I am giving you love with all my heart, I am giving you affection with all my sense, I am giving you my being with all my mind, I am giving you my soul, O most high and holy God. Praise to the Father, Praise to the Son, Praise to the Spirit, The Three in One. adapted from Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica (1900)

Blessing

May Christ, who out of defeat brings new hope and a new future, fill us with his new life; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Remain in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.