Posted by: owizblog | May 4, 2014

Isle Of Bute Jazz Festival 2014 – Jazz Praise Service Sermon 4 May

Luke 24:13-35 The Road to Emmaus 

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a]from Jerusalem. 14 They weretalking with each other about everything that had happened.15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”19 “What things?” he asked.“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.




Loneliness, isolation. It’s part of the modern experience of life. It’s as old as humanity. To be, or to feel cut off from life, from others… It’s no wonder that we seek connections, connectedness. Yet across human cultures, the experience of being disconnected, of being cut off, is there. And it seems to be experienced in a very similar way. This is a Japanese painting. I think we all understand what it’s saying. And this…




…is a French painting. It uses the same prop, a diver’s helmet. And it deepens the sense of isolation, of being cut off, by putting the diver into a bottle – into his own little world, in which there is nobody else. I used to love looking at models of ships-in-bottles – I had a couple, though I never made one – because it was like looking into a different, separate world I could never enter. A ship at sea is an isolated little world anyway, but when the sea itself is contained in a bottle, cut off from the rest of the universe…




And here’s an image we all know! A silent scream, unheard by the people round about, a loneliness in the middle of a crowd… And do you see the repetitions of the image of Munch’s The Scream to the left of the main image? And the faint lines criss-crossing it? The shape of the whole image is a so-called Golden Rectangle. And the proportions of the Golden Rectangle are such that if you take a square out of it – and each of these images of The Scream is a square – you are left with another Golden Rectangle, and if you take a square out of that one, you are left with another, and another, and another… You can never seem to remove this scream!


Loneliness. Isolation. Deep sadness, trauma. Two people walk down a lonely road, reliving a grief they have experienced just a few days ago…




…but of course they aren’t two people, but three. Someone has come to them, someone is walking with them, but they hardly notice. It isn’t just that this person is hardly there to them…



…it’s as though he wasn’t there. I don’t know why, actually, we keep thinking of this road as an empty one. It’s true that the Gospel of Luke doesn’t mention anyone else – but we’re a few miles from a relatively small city, to which thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people have come, and this is the road to what nowadays we’d call a “dormitory village” – at least for the time of the Passover festival. This road was much more likely to have been thronged!


And it’s not just that these two aren’t aware of all these others. It isn’t just that they aren’t aware of the one person who comes to them and starts to share their journey. In their sadness, their grief, their trauma, in all that life has done to them over the last few days, in all the hope they had that’s been knocked out of them, they are separated each from the other.

Get ready to laugh, gently, at this next slide!





But there’s a huge truth here. They are isolated from each other. They speak of “us” – the one called Cleopas says “us”, “we”- but there is no “us”. There are two disconnected individuals, dealing with what has happened to them in utter isolation.


There are lots of different ways of hearing the words “Nobody understands me!” Here’s one…




But we probably all remember what it was like to be a teenager, to be coping with things that we didn’t understand, emotions, feelings, changes in our heads and bodies…


Actually – do we all remember? What sort of place do teenagers, young adults, have, in our society? Who really tries to understand them, where they are, what life is like for them?

But that’s maybe true of people at all ages.




Who understands? Really understands?

The Christian faith is nothing if it is not about breaking down isolation, separation, brokenness – broken relationships, broken belonging.




That’s a powerful image And sometimes, we experience it like that! The big moments, the specialness, the being caught up in something marvellous and obviously special, even while it’s happening. But it can sometimes be much more understated. In the ordinary things. In a sharing so low-key, so mundane that you barely realize that there is something vast behind the simplicity. Something like this…



Wine poured out. Bread broken. Human hands doing these things. Known actions, known etiquette, known sequences – and suddenly…




…known hands… The isolation has started to break down as they talked with whoever this was, as he drew them out of themselves… Out of themselves! That’s exactly it! He put them back in touch with each other. By the time they get to the inn, and he looks as though he’s going further, there is an “us” – and they don’t want him to go. So they press him to stay, and be their guest. And suddenly, they are the guests, and he’s the host. And they recognize the hands that break the bread. They know who this is.

I’d always been puzzled by what happened next…




“He disappeared from their sight…” Why? Because seeing, touching, feeling his presence is now somewhat beside the point. They know where to meet him again. So they head off back to Jerusalem, to the other disciples, to the joined-up, connected belonging which is to be the Church. Which is us.

If this isn’t a place where you feel connected, there’s something wrong. If this is a place you don’t feel accepted, loved, as you are and for who you are, and for all that you are, there’s something wrong. It might be something wrong with the rest of us – we might not be the church we should be. It might be something wrong with the world, and the way it’s treated you. You may not be able to believe that God’s love and acceptance does not leave you isolated and alone. But it doesn’t, and whether you feel or know that this morning, it is the truth.

You belong. You have your place.

And whether you are returning to your life on Bute, now, or for your last day at the Jazz Festival before you go back to your lives on that nice little island next door that the Wemyss Bay ferry goes to, know that Christ is with you on your road, and that your journey is a journey to God.

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