April 26, 2020 Service




      Today’s gospel begins with two disciples walking to Emmaus, overcome with sadness, loss, and disappointment. They had hoped Jesus, who was crucified, would be the one to redeem Israel! Yet the risen Christ walks with them and then opens their eyes in the breaking of the bread. Each Sunday our hearts burn within us as the scriptures are proclaimed and Christ appears to us as bread is broken and wine is poured. The story of Emmaus becomes the pattern of our worship each Lord’s day.

     Sallie McFague writes in her book “The Body of God” that “the liberating, healing, and inclusive ministry of Jesus that invites the outcast to the table should in our time be extended to a new poor – nature… Perhaps if Peter were to preach to us today about the work of the Spirit and we were to ask, “What should we do?” he might suggest that our first step should be to turn away from our exploitative (sinful) behavior towards the earth as well as toward people, accepting our companionship with all creatures. Could this possibly be the communion to which Jesus – the Lord of creation is calling us today? Surely, it’s worth taking at least the first step of thinking and praying about it. What does “Moving With the Spirit” mean in our time?


Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!


Call to Worship

There are many ways to come to know God.

Sometimes several thousand come to believe all at once.

Other times, a couple of old friends talk, and in their conversation, come to a new awareness of God’s presence.

It does not matter how we come to believe:

we are all invited to journey with God,

to grow in faith, and to find God in our midst.

Come, let us worship God together! 


Loving God, you come among us, you walk with us, but often we don’t recognize you. Yet you surprise us, by being there in our midst. Help us to recognize you, and to walk with you, each and every day.   In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.


O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work; open our ears to hear your voice as the scriptures are read, open our hearts that what we hear changes us to more and more be your people.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Today’s reading is the conclusion of Peter’s sermon preached following the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. The center of his preaching is the bold declaration that God has made the crucified Jesus both Lord and Christ.

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

I will call on the name of the Lord. (Ps. 116:13)

1 Peter 1:17-23

The imagery of exile is used to help the readers of this letter understand that they are strangers in a strange land. Christians no longer belong to this age. Through the death of Christ, we belong to God so that our focus, faith, and hope are no longer on such things as silver or gold.

 Luke 24:13-35

The colorful story of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus answers the question of how Jesus is to be recognized among us. Here, he is revealed through the scriptures and in the breaking of bread.



Punch line:  n.  1)  A sentence, statement or phrase in a joke, play or humorous story that drives home an unexpected point.  2)  a twist at the end of a narrative which entirely changes one’s perspective.  EXAMPLE:  Two guys walk into a bar.  You would have thought the second one would have seen it.


I like jokes because they force me to see things in a different way, and they make me laugh.  My problem is that I sometimes can’t remember the punch line when I need it.  The situation will arise at a party, or some other function, when I’ll come to the end of my story and … I have forgotten the punch line!  This is very frustrating, especially when I am not telling the story to be funny but to make a serious point, for jokes also comment on our condition and humanity.

These are the kind of jokes Jesus tells; stories and parables that hit you from the blind side and reveal a truth seldom seen.  In our gospel text, Jesus delivers the punch line.  He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the two disciples.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus!  In the ordinary stuff of life, the two disciples finally clued in that Jesus was present!  Suddenly, all that Jesus had told them made sense!  In the ordinary stuff of life, God’s grace was revealed.  This is what the Good News is.  It is God’s grace that comes to us, often unexpectedly, in the daily functions of life.

I find the gospel to be like water, which I strive to keep within my grasp.  It keeps…slipping through my fingers.  I think, “If only I could keep the gospel in my grasp, before my eyes, on my tongue, then I could always live by it.”

But such is my misunderstanding of the gospel of Christ, and the misunderstanding of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  It is also the misunderstanding of many people today.  We forget that we are swimming in an ocean into which we dip our hands.  We are immersed in the gospel, lifted up in a sea called the resurrection and the life.  This elusive message, which we strive to keep within our grasp, hold on to so tightly, actually has us in its grasp.  We try to live it when we are already living in it.

It is so easy for this contemporary heresy to continue.  Our common mistake is to define a Christian as one who follows the 10 commandments or who memorizes scripture; as one who does certain things, or worse still, who does not do certain things.  We think we have some say or influence on whether we are counted among the saints, whether we can effect our salvation, whether we make it to the resurrection to stand with our peers and think, “I wasn’t such a bad Christian after all.”  So, in order to make it, we try to keep the message in our hands, before our eyes, and on our tongues, try to be perfect in our faith.  We are so caught up in keeping hold of the gospel, that our senses are blinded to the fact that the gospel comes to us through others, in the ordinary, imperfect stuff and people of life.  Often, we see the gospel so neatly and beautifully wrapped, and believe that in order to have it, all we have to do is….

But then God joins us in our daily walk, and has this wonderful joke to tell.  To be made a child of God has nothing to with anything we can do.  The point is, there is absolutely nothing we can do to be made children of God!  To be a Christian is to be named so by God, not ourselves.  To be a Christian is to be resurrected already!  It is to recognize the gospel of Christ in the ordinary stuff of life, and realize that Christ is present in this moment.  It is as if Christ says to us, “My gift to you is far too big to hold in your hands, for it is you whom I hold in mine.”  The Lutheran church states the punch line this way:  “You are justified by grace through faith.”  Surprise!  We can stop struggling!  We can stop working so hard to be righteous!  Because nothing we do will get us any closer to God anyway!  It is God, through Christ, who makes us righteous.  This is the punch line which can change our lives.

Imagine you are an invisible bystander as this scene unfolds.  You see the two disciples walking along in sadness and confusion.  What will we do now?  Jesus is dead.  All is lost.  “No, no!”  you shout, “Jesus isn’t dead!  Look, here he comes now!” Yet still the two cannot see.  They speak of angels and empty tombs, but still cannot comprehend the punch line!  And you shout, “Listen to what Jesus is saying!  He is explaining scripture to you!  He is telling you why things had to be the way they were!  Can’t you understand?!”  But still the two do not see or understand.  It is only in the ordinary stuff of life, the breaking of bread, that their eyes are opened.  And you say, “Finally!  It’s about time you guys clued in!  What took you so long?!”  Funny, I ask that question about a lot of people.  I can see that Christ is present, why can’t they?  I have a sense of humor.  I can see and hear the punch line, why can’t they?  Also funny – no doubt there are people who ask themselves that question about me!

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we get so caught up in life, so worried about how things will work out, fear that God has abandoned us, that we cannot see who walks with us.  We cannot believe in angels and empty tombs.  It takes the ordinary stuff of life, and community, such as the breaking of bread, before we can see Christ with us.  Yet sadly, some people cannot even comprehend the punch line in the forgiveness offered them in the Eucharist. 

Perhaps, rather than working so hard at holding on to the gospel, which was meant to be shared, we need to work on our sense of humor, or at least the ability to be able to hear the punch line.  The gospel truly is funny.  It enters into people’s lives in the strangest places and situations.  Just when we think God would never be caught in this place or that place, or with these people or those sinners  —  surprise!  That is where grace is most needed and Christ is present in the ordinary stuff of life.  And guess what?  Like it or not, God will use you, in the most unexpected places, to deliver the punch line.  You will take the ordinary stuff of life – bread, wine, water, touch, hugs, tears, laughter, love, compassion – and God will bless it, and you will share it, and their eyes will be opened, and they will hear and see the punch line; that Christ is present with them, in you.  Amen.



Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

For those whose hearts are fervent with love for your gospel, that they are empowered to tell the story of your love in their lives and to show hospitality in response to this love. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the diverse natural world: for jungles, prairies, forests, valleys, mountains, and for all the wild and endangered animals who call these spaces home, that they are nurtured and protected. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For broken systems we have inherited and that we continue to perpetuate, forgive us. Restrain the nations from fighting over limited resources. Redeem us from the cycles of scarcity and violence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For all who call upon your healing name, give rest. Stay with us, and walk with all those who are hungry, friendless, despairing, and desiring healing in body and spirit.   We pray for those isolated physically or emotionally during this pandemic; through incarceration, addiction, mental illness, chronic suffering, grief, and all in need.  We bring before you our family members, friends and community members who are in need of your peace and healing hand at this time:  Rita Covernton; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Don; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Scott Brown; Diane Dreger; the family of Annie Grossman; Elizabeth & David, Hwida and her family, and all the victims of the Nova Scotia shootings. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the faith forming ministries of this church. For those preparing for confirmation, especially Parker Hamilton, Lincoln Boyer, Katie Evenson and Ashton Vermette. For those who participate in Sunday school and adult education; guide and inspire learners of every age and ability. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Create in our hearts a yearning to rest in your promise of eternal and resurrected life. Give us thankful hearts for those who have died, even as we look forward to the hope of new life with you. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.



May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing.

May the blessing of God – Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life – be with us now, and always. Amen.

Mission and Service

Thanks to generous United Church congregations and presbyteries, and Seeds of Hope and Mission & Service—United Church Camping remains one of the largest providers of residential camp experience, and the largest Christian faith-based camp provider in Canada.

United Church Camping continues to:

  • have a significant transformative impact on the lives of children, youth, and adults

  • offer programs and activities that encourage imagination, innovation, and exploration

  • be a valuable means of Christian education and nurturing community, and learning respect for creation

  • give young people a chance to slow down, notice and engage with themselves, one another, and the world around them

  • teach young people about the breadth of God: the magnificence of God in nature and the intimacy of God in community.

What follows are the words from the Rev. Maya Landell (a former Camp Director), and Camp Director Bill Stevens:

As we look to the future of leadership in our world and in our church, it is imperative that we see our camps as training grounds for leadership. Strengthening the ties between church and camp will allow this leadership to continue throughout the year. The possibilities for engaging trained, skilled, and passionate youth and young adults in our faith communities are endless if we as congregations begin to do our work to include and make room for them to lead. As the prophet Jeremiah assures us, “…I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to give you a future with hope.” Now is the time—let us be generous in our support both in finances and in human resources, and big in our dreaming and re-visioning about how camping ministry can be a source of transformation and joy for all God’s people.


Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617.