Stop, In the Name of Love

Sunday's are the strangest for me now. It has always been the first day and the central day of my week, certainly these last 47 years that I have been pastoring. Patterns, rhythms and rituals followed without much variation. Studying and preparing the message all week--then the climax emotionally as I have stood to deliver it on the LORD's Day. But since we now record the sermon at my house on Wednesday, Sunday for me is pretty much like it is for everyone else.

I have started worshiping online early in the morning with a small Church of England congregation in the UK. Part of it is that I love the British accent--but the prayers and scripture, the music and the homilies, have blessed my soul, too.

This past Sunday the pastor's message was on the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, recorded in Luke 24:13-34. I have always loved this rich story: Jesus shows up on the road and joins perplexed disciples as they are discussing rumors of a resurrection. They are experiencing disappointment at His death, mingled with incredulity at such a fantastic tale from a group of women.

He walks with them, in disguise, and He leads them through the Old Testament scriptures--proving that the crucifixion was a necessity and the resurrection was a reality. Later, as they break bread together around a table, their eyes are opened and they realize that it was Jesus who had been with them that afternoon. They knew that their hearts were burning as He spoke, of course, but it was in the meal together that it all came together in sharp focus.

When I have preached on this story, always at this time of year, I have emphasized that Jesus walks the road of life with His disciples. He joins us in our journey, through good times and bad. Also... the importance of our gathering around a table--the Communion one at church, and the dining room one at home--for spiritual clarity to come.

But I had missed something else, and never saw it until this Anglican pastor showed it to me:
At one point, described in verse 17, "They stood still, their faces downcast...". Paralyzed by doubt and finding themselves in a world that had been suddenly upended for them, they could not take another step.

And Jesus stopped with them. He was willing to take His time and tenderly minister to them. He listened, and then explained--until, eventually, He got them to walking again.

This is encouraging to me--as I feel "stopped and standing still" during these days of isolation. It's good to know that He is with me, even when my world has come to a screeching halt. I may not always see Him, patiently standing there--but the warmth in my heart lets me know that He is there.

Then, Sunday night I dropped in on The Bible Fellowship At Rockville and heard my favorite preacher (Vander Warner, who just turned 90) teach on one of my favorite texts, 1 Peter 1:1-9 (remind me to tell you sometime why it is such a favorite).

Yes, it is true that we are "sheltering in place" these days and limited as to where we can go. But I was still able to "go to church" on Sunday--my own, another one down in the Richmond area, and yet another one with friends across the ocean in England. And blessed by all three!

Not bad for just one day!
 


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Joe Mckeever - April 28th, 2020 at 11:25am

Tell us how to access that UK service.