During lent we ran weekly meals and sharing bread and wine, for some of these meals we joined with members from other communities. One of those meals was with Johnny Sertin from the Earlesfield Community and a phrase that he used stuck in my mind and for the catalyst for this service.
“Rewriting the Story” seemed to strike a chord with a number of topics we have explored in Grace including “Another World is Possible” and “Prophets”
How many times have you come home perhaps from work, lonely, desolated? Nothing seems to have gone right, expectations or hopes overturned.
Tonight we want to explore the story of the Road to Emmaus, to better understand why, for Cleopas and the other disciple “their hearts burned”.
What can we learn from their experience?
How Stories Evolve – Sue – 8 Mins
Intro into stories
Now are you sitting comfortably – then I’ll begin:
Jan and Hanna
Now once upon a time there were a father and a mother who had a large flock of children. The father went to town and bought a scoopful of peas and gave each child one pea, but Jan and Hanna did not get any. This made them cry.
Once upon a time there were a father and a mother who had two children, a girl and a boy. The girl's name was Gretel, and the boy's name was Hans. The children were disobedient, and often received beatings.
The father said, "Be quiet and don't cry. I am going into the forest to chop wood. You can come along and look for berries."
The father took a breadboard and a rolling pin with him and hung them on a tree. He said to Jan and Hanna, "Just go and pick berries. You can pick berries as long as I am chopping wood."
The wind blew the breadboard and the rolling pin against each other, and they thought their father was still chopping wood, so they continued to pick berries. After they had eaten until they were full and had filled their little buckets as well, they went and looked for their father. They came to the place where the breadboard and the rolling pin were hanging, but no father was there. They cried, then ran about in the woods shouting, but they did not find anyone.
One day they wanted to go into the woods to pick strawberries, but their mother said, "You are not allowed to go out today. A thunderstorm is approaching, so you have to stay at home."
But while their mother was busy working, the children took their little baskets from the wall and went into the woods. There they picked strawberries, but they had scarcely begun when it grew dark. A storm arose that whipped the trees fiercely against each other until the branches came flying down. The frightened children were sorry that they had not obeyed their mother but they found a rocky cave, and they crept inside and waited until the rain stopped. after the storm had passed, they wanted to go home, they walked and walked, and went deeper and deeper into the woods. They grew afraid and called out, "Father! Mother!" but no one heard them. Night fell, and they realised they would have to sleep in the woods.
Suddenly they came to a little gingerbread house. They began to crumble off some little pieces: crumble, crumble from Old Vera's little house
Then Gretel said, "Hans, do you know what? Climb a tree. Maybe you'll see a light where we can go." So Hans did this, and coming down from the tree took Gretel by the hand, and led her to the light he had seen. They saw a little house from and looking more closely, they saw that the walls were of gingerbread and the roof of marzipan. They looked around for a ladder, and finding one, they leaned it on the roof and climbed up. There they made themselves comfortable and began breaking off one marzipan shingle after the other and eating them, until there was a hole clear through the roof.
Then Old Vera came running out. "Who's there?"
The children hid themselves so she could not find them. But continued to crumble little pieces off the little house: crumble, crumble from Old Vera's little house.
Then Old Vera ran out very fast and caught them. She took them inside and said, "Now I am going to fatten you up," and she locked them into a little stall and gave them nothing but bread and milk to eat.
Now a witch named Grule lived in this little house, and she liked to eat children more than anything else. She was just about to go to bed when she heard something on her roof.
Running outside, she said with a deep voice, "Who is robbing my house?"
"The wind, the wind," was Gretel's reply, with a very gentle voice.
Satisfied, she went back inside and went to bed.
But when the witch put out her light she noticed a large hole in the roof above her bed, and a child's head looking around. She jumped up, ran outside, pulled the children down from the roof, and said, "Just wait, you worthless brats. I'll teach you to ruin my house. Get inside. You can't leave." And with these words she put them in an empty chicken coop and locked the door.
After a while Old Vera wanted to see if they were fattened up enough. "Jan, stick out your finger. Are you fattened up yet?"
But he stuck out the little whistle he had brought from home. She made a cut in it. "Oh, you are not fat enough yet."
"Hanna, you stick out your finger. Are you fattened up yet?"
But she stuck out a finger that had a ring on it. Old Vera made a cut in the ring. "Oh, you are not fat enough yet either."
Then they cried a lot, and Jan lost his little whistle, and Hanna lost her ring.
Old Vera came again to see if they were fattened up enough. "Jan, stick out your finger." Old Vera made a cut in it, and it bled a little.
"Hanna, you stick out your finger." Old Vera made a cut in it, and it bled a little.
"Yes, you are fattened up enough. Now I am going to roast you."
The next days, and for some time afterward, the witch brought the children cake, sweets, fruit and good things to eat, for she wanted to fatten them up in order to have a good roast from them.
When she thought that the children must be fat enough, she took a knife to the coop. First she went to Gretel and said, "Girl, stick out your little finger, but Gretel thought, "No way," and held out her apron string.
Grule cut into it a little, and said, "Skinny, skinny."
Then she went to Hans and said, "Boy, stick out your little finger," and Hans held out his trouser string.
She likewise cut into it and said, "Skinny, skinny," then went away.
After this she thought, "Good things don't make them fat. I'll try something else." And from then on she gave them nothing but flour porridge, which the children soon grew to hate.
Some time later the witch again came to the coop with a knife and said to Gretel, "Girl, stick out your little finger," and this time Gretel held out her finger. Old Grule cut into it a little, and a drop of blood appeared. Then the witch said, "Fat, fat."
Then she went to Hans and told him to hold out his finger as well, which he did, just as Gretel had done. She cut into it too, and when it bled a little, she again said, "Fat, fat."
Old Vera heated up her oven very hot, took Jan and Hanna and said, "Sit on the bread pusher."
They sat on the bread pusher, now this way, and now that way.
Vera told them how they were supposed to sit, but every time they fell off. "We don't know how we are supposed to sit. You show us."
Then Old Vera sat on the bread pusher, and bang! they pushed her into the glowing oven.
Old Vera burned up completely, so the little gingerbread house was theirs, and if they haven't sold it, they still have it to this very day.
Grule went to her kitchen and made a fire in her oven. After it had burned down she took a wooden crook and with it spread the coals evenly across the oven's entire surface. Then she went to the coop, opened it, and said, "Come, children, I have some baked plums in the oven. You can get them out for me."
The two ran for joy into the kitchen with Old Grule, thinking that at last they were going to get something other than the eternal flour porridge. Arriving there, the witch got a baker's peel and told the children to sit on it, so she could push them into the oven. But while Grule was gone, Gretel looked into the oven and saw that there were no plums in it at all. So when Old Grule told her to sit on the peel first, she pretended to be so awkward that she fell off. Then she said, "My dear Grule, I don't understand how I am supposed to sit on it. Show me, so I can see how."
Then Old Grule pulled her skirts together, sat down on the baker's peel, and said, "See. This is how to do it." And bang, the children pushed the witch into the oven, and Old Grule burned up miserably.
Gretel and Hans returned home. Their parents were very happy to see them, for they thought their children had died, but still each of them was given a beating for being disobedient.
The same story, different story despite coming from two adjacent countries. Sometimes stories change over time, sometimes they change between geographical areas and sometimes the story stays the same but the way we see it changes completely.
Did you have a favourite story or books as a child – perhaps it was something that a parent or teacher read to you, perhaps on of the first stories you read for yourself.
In groups of 3 or 4 people share together: - 10 mins?
For Cleopas and his companion the writings of the prophets about the Messiah would have been something they had heard read and discussed time and again – but now they were to hear them again in a very different way.
What was your favourite story as a child?
Why did you like it so much?
What do you think of it now? Have you read it again?
Ask people to share any of the ideas or thoughts that came up in the groups.
Mediation – Richard
Next we are going to read and meditate on the passage
I am going to read it a piece at a time and there will be some questions on the screen to prompt your meditation.
Mourning our losses – 5 Mins
Read Luke 24:13,24
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18 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?’ 19 He 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, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 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. 24 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 him.’
What do you do with your losses
Do you hide them
Are you going live as though they are not real
Are you going to hide them from your fellow travellers
Are you going to try and convince yourself they do not really matter
Or are you going to mourn for them
Discerning the Presence – 5 mins
25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
How often to we realised we have not really been actively listening
Inviting the Stranger – 3 mins
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 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.
Who do you invite to your table?
Has is this ever been a challenge that has changed you
How often do we overlook significant encounters
Entering into communion – 3 mins 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 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?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Something had changed, what do you think it is?
When the story has changed – 5 mins?- Sue
Sometimes these stories can be very personal, here is a story that changed for Jackie
What Stories might you want to rewrite – 5 mins - Sue
Think about those stories in your life that have been rewritten or that you might want to see differently.
It was getting dark as Cleopas and the Disciple returned to Jerusalem and their community. Take a candle, light it and bring it with you to as you invite Jesus to join us for communion
Communion – Dean – 5 mins (excluding distribution)
On the road to Emmaus Cleopas and his companion are walking despondently, confused and disappointed, they had no goal. They are returning to their home but their home is no longer home. They just have nowhere else to go.. They talked and talked about Jesus, the stranger from Nazareth who had made everything new, about how he had died, about the rumours flying around - what did it all mean? Or perhaps it meant nothing . But:
The Lord is here
His Spirit walks with us
Walk with us on our road to Emmaus, with those who are disappointed, confused or frustrated – with those trying to make sense of their world.
His Spirit consoles us
Walk with us on our road to Emmaus as we talk and try to understand our story as you joined the disciples sharing their journey home.
His Spirit gives us understanding
Walk with us on our road to Emmaus as we listen, ponder and pray as Cleopas and his companion listened as the miles passed, as Jesus explained the words of the prophets, as he met them in their foolishness as they travelled towards their home.
His Spirit brings us joy
So with Cleopas and his companion, with the disciples in Jerusalem and those who have walked and talked on the way we say:
Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is nearly over.
Stay with us Jesus as we come to this table recognising our foolishness.
At Emmaus Jesus went in with the disciples and when he was at the table he took bread, blessed it and broke it.
Break bread and drink wine with us tonight.
And they knew him not in the talking and the listening – though that had helped, not in the walking and the journey though that had been good, but at the moment of breaking and sharing of bread they recognised Jesus.
So tonight Jesus be our guest and also our host at this table that we may know you in the sharing of bread and wine together,
We break this bread to remember the body of Christ which is broken for us and re-shapes our story.
We drink this wine to remember the blood of Christ which is shed for us and brings us new life.
Send your Spirit on us, that this bread and wine may be the body and blood of Christ. Inspire us to travel with you, and see Christ’s presence in the stories of our lives.
Thank you Jesus for sharing bread and wine with us at this table tonight.
Challenge our “foolishness” that believes that the story can’t be changed and that we already know the answers
Challenge us to hear the scriptures, through the strangers who become our companions, the story and the mission that is ours.
May our hearts burn within us as we recognise you in our lives and the world around us. Let us continue to walk along the road listening to your story and the stories of others learning more about you, ourselves and others.
So as Jesus has inspired us in sharing of bread and wine let us go out and inspire each other and those that we know. Let us start this mission in the café after this service
Therefore our mission should we choose to accept it is to go out and be a witness to the transforming story of Jesus. As always should you or any of your team be caught or killed, the Father will always acknowledge you and your actions. This message will NEVER self destruct. Good luck to you all!
MUSIC : Exit to the Mission Impossible theme
WITH BURNING HEARTS: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life – Henri Nouwen