Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Second Sunday after Easter - April 22, 2012

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Brooklyn Bridge - Photo by Ashley Buechele

Second Sunday after Easter - April 22, 2012

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 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 happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
 
Luke 24:13-43 (ESV)
“Jesus is hard to obey in as much as he is hard to believe.” That is how one writer sums up the issues at the heart of our half-hearted obedience. In other words, much of our failure to obey Jesus whole-heartedly arises from the fact that at some level we have some skepticism and misgivings about whether he was God incarnate, crucified and risen from the dead, and before whom we will stand at the end of history.  And when we doubt that, we are much less likely to live in accordance with his words.  Yet the more solid our convictions about who Jesus is, then the easier obedience will be to come by. The good news is that God is continually at work to help us grow in faith and trust, leaving unbelief behind.

Jesus’ resurrection appearances are all about convincing people that he is indeed the Risen King to whom we owe our allegiance. From the account of the empty tomb and the “strips of linen lying by themselves” (which would not have been there if the body had been stolen or Jesus had been resuscitated), to the journey on the Emmaus road which required spiritually blind eyes to be opened, to his appearance among his disciples where he ate a fish (pointing to the fact that he was not just a spirit), the events of his resurrection are designed to encourage genuine belief. They are also designed so that we can maintain our conviction that Jesus is our Lord, since most of us, even as believers, easily fall into unbelief and doubt which undermines obedience.

“Jesus is hard to obey in as much as he is hard to believe.” Are you cultivating your faith so you more fully obey Jesus? May God grant us the gift of belief and faith so that our lives are marked by reality of the resurrection and new life.
Jeff O. White, Downtown Assistant Pastor

Lord God, we believe, help our unbelief. In your mercy and kindness grant us a deepconviction and trust in Jesus as our risen Lord who loves us and calls us to follow him. Then Lord, help us to obey your word in all areas of our lives so that they might shine with the beauty of new life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Collect from The Book of Common Prayer



Volunteer Supervisors Needed to Run Saturday Breakfast at Father's Heart Ministry!

Do you have a heart to serve Downtown?  Father's Heart Ministry is a non-profit that seeks to demonstrate God's love through practical expressions of compassion in the East Village. Their commitment and mission is to see the cycle of dependency and poverty broken, to restore dignity to individuals and an improved quality of life.

In an effort to restore a sense of dignity to those ordinarily relegated to food lines at traditional soup kitchens, the Father's Heart Hunger Prevention Program serves guests a hot breakfast in a restaurant style-seating to aproximately 700 guests. The Father's Heart and the Downtown Congregation is looking for dedicated and reliable servants to partner with us to serve as soup kitchen supervisors on Saturday mornings from 8:30am to noon (one Saturday per month). Supervisors will work in teams to lead a group of 10 volunteers at a station (i.e. cooking, distributing food, cleaning). 

If you are interested, there will be four mandatory training sessions: Tuesdays 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, and 5/8 from 7-9PM.  Please email Christine at fathersheartteamleader@gmail.com for more information and to sign up for the training sessions!

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