The readings on which this sermon is
be found at: http://web.me.com/frsparky/iWeb/r026.htm
In the name of God, Life-giver, Pain-bearer and Love-maker.
(Fr Jim Cotter http://www.cottercairns.co.uk/)
s026g11 Third Sunday of Easter 6/5/2011
‘What things?’ Luke 24.19
Cleopas and his friend were walking away from Jerusalem and the temple,
away from the rejection of Jesus by the devout and the
Google tells me that the average walking pace for men is 3.5 miles per
hour, so they had a good couple of hours to discuss their thoughts.
And walking is an especially good way of processing things.
past I have found a walk along the beach at Glenelg (near Adelaide,
South Australia) a valuable time to think, to process what was
happening to me, and to return refreshed to finish the sermon which I
hadn't even thought about during my walk. Walking is a way
meditation, as the repetitive paces become a mantra for the
walking with someone else is good too. Most usually people
together, side by side. There is no eye contact, no face to face
confrontation. The walkers are equal. They travel the
same path and
have to negotiate the same obstacles. Companionship on the
way is a
And I reflect how different this companionship is to the sort of
conversations we have in church! In the liturgy the priest
is up the front, pontificating to the masses often physically
How different this companionship is to the blogosphere as the debates
about human sexuality rage across the Anglican Communion.
different this companionship is to many church synod, council and
vestry meetings modelled on the adversarial 'Westminster'
Perhaps we ought to call ourselves the Anglican Dysfunctional Sideshow
rather than the Anglican Communion!
And the journey of life that the priest or minister is travelling is
often so different from the journey in life that the masses are
walking. The priest or minister is busy with his or her
prayer life -
the parishioner is struggling to know how the bills will be paid, what
to have for lunch, how to deal with the rebelling teenager or bullying
at school or workplace.
In an interesting article in Eureka Street, Andrew Hamilton discusses
the beatifying of Pope John Paul II and says of his legacy: 'Catholics
are left to deal with a world they are not encouraged to understand
except in polemical terms.' and laments the retreat from 'openness to
change implicit in the governance of Popes John XXIII and Paul
John the XXIII wanted to walk alongside people as Cleopas and his
companion walked alongside one another.
And the thing that most of us Cantabrians have noticed, following the
earthquake of February the 22nd, that we need to talk about
People need to share their stories with someone else who was there too,
someone who knows what happened and someone who probably has the same
feelings as we do, feelings of grief, pain of helplessness.
And along comes Jesus to Cleopas and his friend, and invites them to
tell him of their experiences, even though, as the one crucified, he
knew the story better than anyone else. It is only after
his friend had exhausted their story that Jesus responds, with the
words of reassurance that all that had happened was indeed
It was not the defeat and the disaster they imagined.
We are damaged souls and the last thing we need is someone else to tell
us we ought to give to others.
Jesus comes and blesses us when we journey with others. I
Jesus avoids the confrontation of the Westminster adversarial system,
the blogosphere, synod, council and vestry. Jesus is not
about who is
right and who is wrong. Jesus is about companionship
one might even call it communion.
So the real question this poses for me is how we as the church become
fellow travellers with humanity rather than our present dysfunctional
rabble that is attractive to no one in their right mind?
For it is
only when we do this that we can expect Jesus to join us on that
journey and for others to become a part of the conversation.
And essential to becoming fellow travellers is to put aside positions
of status, power and authority. We need to cultivate an empathy
others. How many good and faithful Anglicans metaphorically
their fingers behind their backs when they have to join in reciting the
creed during worship? Why don’t we express our doubts
am sure that a good many atheists and agnostics would be far more
amenable to journeying with us if we were. How many good
Anglicans happen to be gay or lesbian, or are teenagers struggling with
their hormones, women who face abuse at home or whatever and come to
church to find solace and support and dismiss the haranguing from the
pulpit as irrelevant? How many good and charitable people
actually join in this sort of communion rather than shunning us?
And for me this shows the necessity of this. For we are
excluding others while we are treating others as less than equals, by
refusing to be fellow travellers. There is no point
pretending to be evangelistic and growing the church while we retain
our positions of power and authority over others. We really
others to bolster our own sense of importance and to immortalise our
contribution and ministry, not to lift others to their feet and to make
their contribution and ministry, lest it eclipse our own.
Jesus comes to Cleopas and his companion on the road when they least
expect it; he comes when they are bereft, helpless and
I suspect that it is also true that Jesus comes not when we are strong
in the faith, enthusiastically reciting the creed and agreeing with the
words of the preacher. Jesus comes when we least expect it,
faith is non-existent.
Jesus comes to Cleopas and his companion on the road, as they are
journeying away from Jerusalem and the temple. We are wont to
that Jesus comes to people in the holy place, in the temple, church or
meeting place. This tells us that Jesus is found elsewhere,
life. So often the temple, church or meeting place is a
discrimination rather than acceptance, of meeting others but not on
equal terms. When we are strong in our faith, when we are
our superiority over others, we are likely to be crucifying Jesus.
For none of us ‘has’ Jesus to give to another. Jesus joins
us as we
journey with another on equal terms. No church ‘has’ Jesus
to give to
another. Jesus joins us as we journey with another church
terms. No faith ‘has’ Jesus to give to another.
Jesus joins us as
we journey with others of different faiths and none, on equal terms.
And Jesus comes and asks the disciples what they are
Jesus is interested in our thoughts, our concerns, our frustrations,
our grieving as well as our successes. Jesus is interested
in us as
we are, not in how we might contribute to his glorification.
It seems to me also that we interpret Jesus’ words to Cleopas and his
friend: ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all
that the prophets have declared!’ as a rebuke, when these can as
equally be said with a kindly and reassuring smile. For
this is what
they are meant to be - kind and reassuring.
Grief and sadness is only the other side of the love we have for
another. We would be inhuman if we were able to loose
definitive in our lives with no grief. For me it would call
question the love we claim we had in the first place. Jesus
reassure Cleopas and his friend that all is well and the love God has
for all is not defeated by the religious and the devout.
And the message is the same to us, that the love that God has for all
is not defeated and that we share that love as we journey with others
in this world on equal terms. Amen.
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