Reflection on the Lectionary

Sunday 14th April (Easter 3, Year B)

Psalm 4;  Acts 3 : 12 – 19;  1 John 3 : 1 – 7;   Luke 23 : 36b – 48

This week’s reflection is provided by Local Preacher Tim Lansdown (Hanham). This reflection is what Tim provided in 2021.

I imagine that all of us at some time in our lives have had an experience which has led us to exclaim “It’s too good to be true.” It may be some stroke of good fortune that, although we want it to be true, seems unreal particularly if it follows a time of trouble and disappointment. Cleopas and his friend had just walked the 7 miles back to Jerusalem from their home in Emmaus, probably having walked there and back earlier in the day. Their expected physical tiredness would be overcome by the sheer exuberance of what they had experienced on that walk with the risen Jesus.

They arrive back in the city to tell the disciples of their wondrous encounter only to find Jesus appearing again among the disciples. Yet the gathered disciples don’t seem to share the returnee’s joy. They thought that what they saw was a ghost. For hadn’t they only two days before seen Jesus’ body removed from that cross and sealed in a garden tomb. No wonder that some of those assembled in that upper room were terrified. Jesus does two things to bring them back to reality.

Firstly, he asks why they are frightened and points to the scars on his body inflicted during his time on the cross. He is reminding them of the suffering he endured and suggests that without that suffering there would be no resurrection. I remember attending an ecumenical walk one Good Friday and one of the Clergy (not a Methodist) said something along the lines that “Today, Friday will soon pass and Sunday will be here.” We cannot and should not downplay the importance of the cross or separate the two events.  When, many years ago, studying to be a Local Preacher I read an article by Rupert Davies, one of Methodism’s great theologians, he made the point that you might need a different sermon for Good Friday and Easter Day but that the message was a continuum.

Secondly, Jesus asks for something to eat. Food is very much part of the Easter story.  Besides the upper room request for food, we read of Cleopas and his friend sharing a meal with the risen Lord in their Emmaus home and in Galilee alongside the lake Jesus prepares breakfast for Peter and the others as they return to their old occupation of fishing. Here, as in the feeding of the 5000, we are led to understand the importance of the sacrament to our everyday lives. In one sense there is nothing so ordinary as eating, we do it several times every day. Yet this very ordinary act can take on a significance far greater than itself and convey the divine presence to us. During the pandemic we have missed the opportunity to eat with family and friends. For those are valued occasions when even ordinary food can seem special because of who we share it with.

Equally through Christian fellowship, whether virtually or physically together the ordinary things of life can become extraordinary through the presence of the risen Lord;

Soar we now where Christ has led, following our exalted head, made like him, like him we rise, ours the cross the grave, the skies.  (STF 298 v 4)