Sunday 26th April – Surprise! Surprise!

The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Worship @ home Sunday, 26 April 2020
by Major Elizabeth Turner
327px-gebhard_fugel_jesus_und_der_gang_nach_emmaus

Gebhard Fugel / Public domain

Sing When we walk with the Lord

(Music on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Ekcpyt8Xo&ab_channel=TraditionalHymns)

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his word.
What a glory he sheds on our way;
While we do his good will,
He abides with us still.
And with all who will trust and obey.

Chorus
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But his smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt nor a fear,
Not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear.
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss,
Not a frown nor a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
The delights of his love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favour he shows,
And the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at this feet,
Or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
What he says we will do,
Where he sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.

John Henry Sammis (1846-1919)

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Bible reading  Luke 24:13-35

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.

35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Sing Christ whose glory fills the skies

(Music on hymnal.net: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/366. You need to stop it manually)

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of righteousness arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

O disclose thy lovely face!
Quicken all my drooping powers;
Gasps my fainting soul for grace
As a thirsty land for showers.
Haste, my Lord, no more delay;
Come, my Saviour, come away.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by thee;
Joyless is the day’s return
Till thy mercy’s beams I see,
Till thou inward light impart,
Glad my eyes and warm my heart.

Visit, then, this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiance divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

Charles Wesley (1707-88)

Surprise! Surprise!

Surprise, surprise! was an old TV programme hosted by Cilla Black from1984 – 2001. The premise of the show was about surprising members of the public with long-held personal wishes.

I don’t know how you are around ‘surprises’ but if you have ever been part of presenting a surprise to someone the moment of truth is both tense and exhilarating! Lyrics of the show’s theme song proclaimed:

Surprise, surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes,
It’s laughter, love and joy in disguise
And all the wealth can’t bring us what it buys!

The story of the two disciples treading the oh so familiar path homeward to Emmaus would have been just the sort of opportunity for stage-setting that producers of the ‘Surprise! Surprise!’ show would have looked for. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, those disciples had already had a surprise brought to them by the women, who reported seeing angels at the tomb. They were told the very good news that Jesus was alive. Yet despite receiving such news, it seems that this was not the matter that was being talked about. We know this because, when Jesus, whom they did not in that moment recognise, questioned them about their discussion, they stood with their faces ‘downcast’.

Then we are told that an incredulous Cleopas responds: “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”(Luke 24:18) Imagine if they had been chewing over the women’s report, their response might have been an ecstatic “Oh man, you’ve just got to hear this! It’ll rock your world!”

In answer to Cleopas, Jesus innocently asks, “What things?” He wants to know what is rocking their world and driving their conversation? What is their focus? So Jesus falls into step with them to hear their story from their point of view,  bringing  them round to  a ‘hop skip and a jump’ through Scripture in step with him, to see the truth as plain as the nose on their faces.

What happened was all documented; what was told by the women who went to the tomb that day was foretold by the one they considered to be ‘a prophet, powerful in word and deed’ (v19) whom they ‘hoped… was going to redeem Israel ’ (v21).  Why couldn’t they see the irony of it? If they believed those facts of the matter, why not all of it? Jesus either was who they said they believed he was – the Messiah whose words had power, which had to include power to rise from the dead just as he said – or they didn’t believe it at all.

As the disciples walked and talked with the ‘stranger’ into the setting sun, perhaps unable to have a clear view of his face, or perhaps, because of their downcast mood, concentrating their tread along the rough pathway, they failed to identify the one they had known so well. But it seemed that his words were resonating in their minds and hearts; a change was coming over them that they couldn’t quite discern. A spirit of hope was gently restoring their deflated souls.

Before they knew it, the seven-mile journey was over and their home in view. Their time with the ‘stranger’ who had made such an impression on them would naturally end. But did it have to? Would he accept their hospitality and they become the further beneficiaries of his infinite wisdom? They would make the offer: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” (v29)

To their joy, the offer was accepted and the surprise companion on the homeward road became their surprise guest. But their greatest surprise came when, in pronouncing the blessing over their meal, the mannerism, the action, the words as Jesus lifted the bread, gave thanks, broke it and offered it to them was unmistakably Jesus! Surprise! Surprise! Then, just as that ‘unexpected’ hit them ‘between the eyes’— their laughter bubbled up, their love for him coursed through their being, and the joy that had been ‘in disguise’ was written all over their faces, spilling out in their words – the surprise guest vanished!

And though they could no longer see him, they somehow sensed he would always be with them. wherever they went whatever happened to them, Jesus would be there; he would be sharing their experiences, for Jesus was alive. And because he was alive, wherever they looked, they would see the unmistakable presence of Jesus; a presence that would give them renewed zest, even when the day was over. In the words of the new theme song for the more recent series of ‘Surprise! Surprise!’

“Life is full, full of surprises…
And the nicest surprise in my life is you!”

The disciples would discover that to be true of their relationship with Jesus.

I wonder if, in our current situation of bewilderment, confusion, disappointment, despair, frustration and fear, we fail to see the risen Lord Jesus in our midst, helping us to understand his word, enabling us to see that he journeys with us on the road, showing himself to be alive.

In ordinary actions, even at home alone, he offers us nourishment that gives us the zest and the courage to go on, even when it looks like it’s the end. Let’s remind ourselves that Jesus is alive, he loves us and is present with us; he wants us to enjoy the surprise of the things he wants to teach us, show us and enjoy day by day.

Sing Chorus : Life is a song when you walk with Jesus

(Sorry, no music available online)

Life is a song when you walk with Jesus,
Talk with Jesus,
Work for Jesus.
Life is a song when you live for Jesus,
And your heart’s in tune with him

Prayer

Meet us, Lord, on the road to Emmaus,
Guide us on the path toward our destination,
and renew our strength as we continue to walk and commune with you.
Open our eyes, so we see the signs of your presence around us;
open our hearts, so we may receive your peace and love;
and empower us to pass on to others
the grace you have shared with us so freely.

Amen.

~ written by Rev. Frank Schaefer, and posted on the Desperate Preacher website.
http://www.desperatepreacher.com/

Benediction: May God’s blessing surround you each day

May God’s blessing surround you each day,
as you trust Him and walk in His way.
May His presence within guard and keep you from sin,
go in peace, go in joy, go in love.

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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