Note: Each time you see a musical link in the liturgy, mute or lower the volume on your device before clicking on the link. Once you have done that then click on the blue text for the link. If an ad pops up, you can then “Skip Ad” and not be disturbed by the noise of the advertisements. Once you see that the music is beginning then unmute or raise the volume on your device. This will allow a more meaningful worship experience for you. Peace be with you.
Prelude: Hallelujah, L. Cohen
Maybe there’s a God above,
and all I ever learned from love
was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
And it’s not a cry you can hear at night.
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light.
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
We acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, ancestral and traditional territories of indigenous peoples. We accept that Mother Earth and the peoples near us and around the world are all our relations. Thanks be to God. Let us worship God together.
Introit: Ain’t No Grave, Spiritual arr. P. Caldwell/S. Ivory
*Call to Worship:
That first Easter morning,
Jesus’ women friends went to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed. An angel greeted them there and said, “Do not be afraid.”
They were told that Jesus had been raised.
While they were running to tell the others what they had seen and heard, Jesus met them and said, “Do not be afraid.”
Today we proclaim the mystery of our faith that Christ has died, and Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. With praise and thanksgiving, we lift our hearts to God!
Hymn: The Day of Resurrection
*Prayer of the Day:
God of resurrection, you have rolled the stone away and the tomb of our world has been opened wide. With the dawn has come a new creation. Let our worship today empty our tombs, renew our lives, and release your power; through the risen Christ we pray. Amen. VU 174
Listening for THE WORD
Listen for what the Spirit is saying to the Church. (Luke 24:13-35)
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.” 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 [the Christ] 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.
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. 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.
This is the story of our faith. Thanks be to God!
Choral Anthem: Abendlied, J. Rheinberger
Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over.
A few days ago, I had the sermon nearly finished and this is not that sermon. I had written something quite different a few days ago.
This is the week when I dug deep to re-set my weekly schedule with deadlines. Even with every ounce of diligence that I mustered I was not able to meet one of those deadlines. I even came frightfully close to missing a video conference meeting because I had misread my calendar.
This week has not been at all what I thought it might be, virus or no virus. In light of the violence perpetrated against the people of Nova Scotia, why would it be? On top of the suffering already present and the profound grief over the losses from COVID-19, the people of Nova Scotia had additional horrific violence heaped on them. And then the revelation of a wee babe that had died and was found in a porta-potty in Vancouver – the violence of poverty in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
The violence committed against our Nova Scotia neighbours and my imaginings of that wee babe and its mother have taken me to my knees in grief. I honestly cannot imagine the shock and terror of any of it. Any words that I had last week were crushed under the weight of this horror. No words can truly describe it and no words will make sense of it.
If it were not for this virus, the people of Nova Scotia would surely be together today (physically together), caring, protecting, hugging, supporting, praying, fully engaged in the communal rituals of mourning and the binding up of all manner of wounds. They would go and be present to and for each other. They would be out on their streets and in their parks side by side. They would go to each other‘s homes and be welcomed in. They would bear each other’s suffering and together they would slowly, slowly begin to glimpse the miracle of the emergence of the tiniest sprigs of healing. The caring, the hugs and the support of people being present for each other would fill the homes of those who are suffering so profoundly. But now, physical distance is needed in order to not exacerbate the harm.
I imagine too that the many who minister in the Vancouver neighborhood where the babe was found will be searching for ways to love and support those experiencing that deep grief.
This week is not as we had hoped it would be. It is certainly not what we imagined it would be.
After days of suffering, humiliation and death, after that brilliant moment of angelic presence, some followers of Jesus took a trip to Emmaus. They walked and they talked about all that had happened.
Perhaps they were trying to make sense of it, to put words to it, understand it or make it fit into a world that would make sense to them again.
And in that a stranger showed up and walked and talked with them. They shared with him their stories and maybe even their anger, their despair and grief over it all. Luke says they shared their wonder too, the wonder and the bewilderment over their experience at Jesus’ empty tomb and about their friend who was dead and the angels who said, well actually no he’s not. And Mary who said, well actually no he’s not.
The stranger spoke into their bewilderment using their own sacred texts asking basically, “Don’t you get it? Don’t you see? You might have had a glimpse of this coming.”
Then, at the end of the day, Jesus’ followers, even in their grief, tapped into their communal practices of hospitality and offered the stranger a meal and a place to stay. It was at their table, with Jesus taking the initiative to give thanks to God for the bread, that their vision was awakened, and they saw the Christ present with them. He had been there all along but now they saw him. Jesus made himself known through the breaking of the bread at their family table. We want to be at our big family communion table today, but we must not. Yet we can remember past meals and envision ourselves at the table together in the future with those we care about, with strangers, with global partners and with our ancestors.
Each time we come to the table we share in the banquet that was, that is and that is to come. The Christ is our host, the head of the household, and all our relations are there including our ancestors. Our communion is the Great Banquet now and yet to come.
We all long to be together, I mean really together, at our table. I can only imagine that the people of Nova Scotia are aching for that too. And I pray that the mother of the babe has someone there just for her.
As we sit at our own tables today, make sure there is an extra seat beside you, an empty seat to remind you that we are not alone at our own tables and we are not alone if we have no table.
After the horror of the crucifixion and even after that brilliant moment where Mary saw and heard her friend resurrected, it took them a while to see and know that everything had truly changed, and that there would be no going back to life the way it was and no understanding yet of what the future would or could be like. The one thing they did know to do was to re-live, to re-enact that table moment with Jesus, that moment of crisis when they thought they were alone but were not. That act of remembering put them back together. It re – membered them.
So today when you gather at your own lunch table be it a kitchen table, a dining room table, a coffee table or be it a curb, make an empty space as a reminder that we will be together again one day soon and that even now we are not alone. If the grief-stricken people of Nova Scotia can feel love and support from around the world while they are physically distant and isolated from even their closest loved ones, then we can know that also. It takes a while to see and to recognize the who and the what of circumstances but eventually the Holy One shows up, speaks to us, eats with us and blesses us. It is so today. And yes, the Christ will disappear from our sight and then reappear over and over as our healing progresses and our vision restores.
This week has not been at all what I thought it might be, virus or no virus. The weeks ahead are laden with uncertainty and they will not be as I want them to be or as I think they should be. So, I will keep a place at the table of my heart for the One who is present, whether I see that presence or not, and I will ready my table(s) for the days ahead when we will be fully present with and for each other.
May those experiencing the deepest and most profound grief today be nourished in God’s presence by whatever means God chooses. Amen.
SOLO: Lindsay Gillis – I Know My Redeemer Liveth, G.F. Handel
Pastoral Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer: Please click on the YouTube link and hear Jonathan Torrens, organizer of “Nova Scotia Remembers: A Virtual Vigil”, speak from his heart of the support that the people of Nova Scotia are feeling in this traumatic time. I hear whispers of a call to prayer in this. Listen to Jonathan’s “heart talk” and then return to the text below and we will pray together.
And so we pray,
loving God, let us know that you are present today at each and every table. We want to see you and know that you are really here. We are grief stricken today over the violence committed against our Nova Scotia neighbours. We are heartbroken for the mother whose babe has died. We are grief stricken over the ongoing violence done to people through the perpetuation of poverty. We hurt today for those who hurt.
And we are thankful.
We are thankful for the myriad of people giving themselves fully to the causes of healing, wellness, justice and peace. We cheer them on and long for them to know how grateful we are to them. We owe our lives to them.
We long to know that you hear us as we pray and that you answer. We ask you to help us unleash our resources and all the powers of good to find cures, therapies and vaccines for devastating diseases.
We pray for comfort for those who are lonely and feeling lost. We pray for the restoration of your world and all its creatures. We pray that we would not go back to the way things were but that we will truly commit to co-creating a better world with you especially for “the least” among us. We invite you to take a seat at our tables. Come, break bread with us again that we might see you.
Our Father-Mother in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
Take a moment now to offer the gift of your gratitude for the resurrection moments in your life and those resurrection moments yet to come. Give thanks for the many who are saving and those seeking to save life today.
Copyright 2020 Katy Callaghan Huston, used with permission.
Choral Anthem for Reflection on the Offering: Alleluia, E. Whitacre
Prayer of Dedication:
God of grace, it is our delight and our devotion to give gifts to you. All we are and all we have are yours alone.
May our offerings be tokens of our true abiding love that breathe peace, justice and comfort into all the world. Amen.
Commissioning and Benediction:
Be witnesses in the world of God’s resurrection power by caring for the safety of others and doing so with all the confidence, joy and courage of an Easter people. Shout with all your might that the God of Life has had the last word, for Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!
Postlude: Fare Thee Well, Love (arr. Stuart Calvert)
This well-known folk song is acknowledged to be the unofficial anthem of Nova Scotia. We on the west coast surround our friends and countrymen on the east coast with prayerful support and love during their time of great loss and profound sorrow.
Fare thee Well, love
Fare thee Well, love
Far away, you must go
Take your heart, love
Take your heart, love
Will we never meet again no more?
Far across, love
Far across, love
O’er mountains and country wide
Take my heart, love
Take my heart, love
No one knows the tears I’ve cried
So I’ll drink today, love
I’ll sing to you, love
In pauper’s glory, my time I’ll bide
Will we never meet again no more?
Will we never meet again no more?