Walking with Jesus

The Christian faith is based upon a beautiful short word called hope.

I recorded a special homily about the interaction between Jesus and his two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a spectacularly important story to become acquainted with because it describes the despair of the disciples and then their joy when they are awakened to the person of Jesus before them.

In the video, I try and comment on the intensity of the dialogue between these 3 people and how their conversation becomes our dialogue with God. There is also something very relevant about their worry and anxiety. Their structures of faith have seemingly been crucified with Jesus. They feel dejected unable to contemplate what is normal, what is good, what is righteous! Covid-19 brings with it similar concerns but the Christian faith is based upon a beautiful short word called hope. There is a beautiful animated edition of the Emmaus Road story told by the Bible Society. I recommend that the children watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndtnZV-5QTo Please also see the Messy Church type craft attached called ‘Jesus walks with us’ designed by Leah Mattinson in her time away from the parish computer!

I hope you enjoy the less-professional video shot in St Michael’s garden! If you want to watch it all in one go please click here: https://youtu.be/7eUSK3Op8dw Please watch it with the readings and prayers attached to this email and press pause whenever you need to. I would also commend to you the questions at the end of the clip:

1. How and when you do see the person of Christ in the world today? How does that inform you about the living faith of the Christian Church?

2. Where is your place within the community of faith? How might you be encouraged to continue Christ’s ministry today?

3. What does the conversation between Jesus and his disciples mean to you in this time of Covid-19?

If you have time, please respond to me with your thoughts – or perhaps this might open up similar discussions in your care clusters or with friends and neighbours?

The beginning of the journey
First walk

The First Reading – Acts 2:14a. 36-41  On the day of Pentecost, Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 

Our desire to be like Christ

The Gospel (Part 1) – Luke 24:13-21 On that same day, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” Jesus asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. 

The Gospel (Part 2) – Luke 24:22-30 “…It is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 

Reflecting on the encounter

Our Intercessions

Holy God, we cannot gather in fellowship and worship to hear your word, to sing your praise and to break bread in the presence of the Risen Christ. But in our prayers this Sunday, we pray that you walk with us as individuals and as the Church of God on our Road to Emmaus.  Open our eyes, as you did with Jesus’ companions, to the reality and truth of the resurrection. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

We pray for our local church of St Michael & All Angels, and our diocese of Oxford and for all our ecumenical partners who preach the Gospel bringing a light to those in darkness and words of love to those in need of comfort in this time of closed churches and congregations locked down in their home. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Creator God your Son walked the roads and tracks of the Holy Land and taught us to seek your hand in the beauty and wonders of earth and sea and the sky. We so often see too much of the evidence of poor stewardship in nature and it is easy to forget that the world belongs to you. Help us to recognise your presence in our modern world, to listen to the birdsong, to see the stars, and help us to use more wisely the resources of the earth. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Father God we thank you for the gift of your Son, our Saviour, who walks with us on our life’s journey. We pray for all who travel with us in our family, among our friends and neighbours within this community. We pray for a deepening awareness of our need for one another and of your image in the hearts of everyone we meet. We thank you for walking alongside us wherever we travel and, if like those first disciples, we fail to be aware of you forgive us for our human weakness and open our eyes to see you as a constant companion and friend. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Loving God, send your son to walk with those we know who are going through a time of suffering and pain perhaps as a result of this current pandemic. Help us to always be aware of one another’s needs and to respond accordingly and assist them with words and deeds on to the road of recovery. Merciful God accompany those travelling through the valley of death and may our love and prayers support those who walk that journey today. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

The journey’s end… or just the beginning?

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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.