Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter

Jesus himself came near and went with them, 
but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

How often is that we don’t recognise the presence of Christ in our lives?
Is that our eyes are kept from recognising him,
like it is something out of our control?
Or is that we allow other things to keep our eyes from seeing him?

What are the things that get in the way of seeing Christ?

It can be over familiarity with the story.
It can be over familiarity with the liturgy.
It can be over familiarity with the church.
It can be over familiarity with yourself and your way of being a follower of Jesus.

More often than not,
it is mistaking something else for Christ and placing importance on that rather than the gospel.

A door, a tree, a hymn, who does what, who hasn’t done what.
All those things are not the gospel.

It is hanging on to something from the past that stops us from seeing Jesus in the present.
What has happened is gone.
Holding on to the past is like being on the road to Emmaus and standing still while Jesus walks on past,
never recognising who it was.

But we can work within the present.
Our eyes can be opened to see Christ in our presence.
In the breaking of the bread Jesus is present to us.
We need to be in the present to recognise him.
But sometimes the past won’t allow us to be present.

The past can be healed with forgiveness.
Knowing the forgiveness of God, and the ability to forgive others.
Holding on to past hurts blocks forgiveness,
and creates a distorted image of God,
where his forgiveness becomes twisted and conditional on our ideas of right and wrong.

Repentance. Forgiveness. Healing.

All allow us to have our eyes opened to the presence of Christ.

When I first started going to church, the third mass I went to was a Healing Mass.
I thought it was odd, and didn’t really pay much attention to what was happening.

The next year, we moved to Sydney,
and the church I attended and worked in had a Healing Mass every Wednesday.
I went, but never asked for the laying on of hands.

At Singleton it was Wednesday night,
but it was very rare that anyone would ask for the laying on of hands or anointing.

So, the Healing ministry was not something I was aware of, but it wasn’t my calling.

Until I came here.
Within a few months of being here, I became very aware of a need for healing.

The closing of St Mary’s. The selling of Trinity House.
These are painful things for a parish.
They also carry with them elements of blame and division.
To stay with them is to stop walking on the road to Emmaus.
The parish needs healing.
There are relationships that need healing.
Wounds that aren’t healed get infected and cause more damage, damage to parts that were ok.
It is time for healing.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him

After the prayers, there will be a time for the laying on of hands and anointing with oil.
Everyone is welcome to come forward to receive healing.
If you would rather not, that is fine too.
I ask that while this happens,
we all pray for the healing of our parish, our relationships, our bodies and our minds.
I ask that you pray that all our eyes may be opened,
and that we recognise Jesus in all our lives,
in the breaking of the bread and in the knowledge of his healing and forgiving love.

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