"Foundation and Light", Sermon / Luke 24:13-35; Acts 2 / Pr. Lucas A. Albrecht / 3rd Sunday in Easter April 26th 2020 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Luke 24; Acts 2
Theme: “Foundation and Light”
Intr – A helpful tool becomes useless, or even dangerous, if used in the wrong way. That can be true for a knife, for a baseball bat and for a flashlight. Speaking of that, I have one with me here. What’s the best way to use a flashlight, right in the eyes? Of course not. When you need a flashlight, you need light ahead of your eyes, not into them. Even when we say that our eyes need the light to walk, we don’t mean that it should be in the eyes, but pointing to the path ahead. Our eyes need it, but not directly on them. The road must be clear so that we know we are walking in solid ground, not on thin ice.
For those two disciples on the road to Emmaus the sun was already setting that Easter Sunday late afternoon, literally and figuratively. They were walking in hopelessness, and their hearts went out too.
1 - Light
On the Sunday after Jesus' death, Easter, two disciples are walking to the little hamlet of Emmaus. Tradition says that one of them may even be St. Luke, the evangelist, given the extensive details given of the episode.
What’s one of the most noticeable things in them? They have sort of a 'Low beam', or even off. Lights are out. They’ve been having a hard time understanding how all that hope in Jesus could have ended so tragically. The light that had beamed in their lives for the past three years from the Master and His shinning Word had now been extinguished with three nails on the top of a cross.
In our life, sometimes we meet people like that. It could be even ourselves, or someone close to our hearts. For some reason, or for a series of them, we are downcast, dispirited, hopeless. We may have lost someone or something of great value, and we are no longer in the mood to carry on. Or perhaps even if they try to do that, darkness and lack of confidence is all we can see ahead.
Suddenly, Jesus starts walking with them in their darkest hour. And the Master asks them: "why are you so sad?" Jesus is omniscient, He already knew their thoughts and feelings. But still He asks; because it causes them to express themselves, to speak, to vent out their anguish, their frustration.
In the times we live in, sometimes we would give the world for someone like that, wouldn't we? Somebody who come close and ask us why we are so sad, and take time to actually listen to our anxieties and our fears. How difficult it is to find someone like that, without having to pay for it! Not many of us these days actually listen to other people without being already thinking about what to answer or what we want to say next. Or even worse, to start telling 'Oh, that’s bad. But you know, I have an aunt, brother, a relative, a grandson of an aunt of a neighbour on the East Coast who is much worse than you are”. That is, we tend to be more ready to speak than to listen, when tend to be more ready to tell people how we are feeling instead of paying attention to what they feel.
But this is a great opportunity to share the Gospel. When we care for each other and their difficulties, we often make way to share the One who can carries us in your arms, brightens our saddest days and gives us new life. That's what Jesus did. He asked them a question so they could vent out their frustration. Then He started talking about the OT and explained everything that should happen. (BTW, Jesus here shows that the OT is indeed the word of God, and not just a collection of writings gathered together by and ancient people to express their views on God and religion. Jesus himself uses the Bible to speak about Himself, how can we do otherwise? The OT and the NT both point to Cross, both are the pure Word of God.)
And then Jesus teaches them, walks with them and comes to the house where they were, Jesus breaks bread with them and then both realize who was that man. “It was Jesus! Wasn’t our heart burning?” From darkness to light; from coldness to a burning heart. That’s what Jesus’ Word causes in their hearts. They are now so brightened, lit, full of light and life again, that they come back on the same evening to Jerusalem to share that with all.
A pertinent question about this text is: “they were both Jesus’ disciples and still did they not recognize Him as they walked together?” Remember, it was already late afternoon, not much light around, possibly with the sun in front of their eyes. It is possible that this fact, which would make them walk with their heads down, together with the deep sadness, would have prevented them from recognizing Him. The obliterating light of anxiousness and sadness into their eyes and understanding, blinding their faith, prevented them from recognizing the Light of the World walking at their side.
There are times when we also walk with our heads down, thinking that our hopes are already setting, and the light will no longer shine. Jesus always comes in His word and Sacraments to make our hearts burn, to shine on. They make us see that Jesus walks beside us, protects us, and cares about us. Jesus is the great Light, the sun over our lives. The light which can put the light of the devil out. The problems and difficulties of this life may bother us for a while. But we know that He prevails. He is the Foundation and the Light for our path, in any situation.
2 - FOUNDATION
Yes, He is the Light and the foundation. The reading of Acts 2 shows us this truth. In that context, it is speaking of a Christian community gathered together and being the Church in the World.
The entire chapter 2 of the book of Acts shows us a very vibrant, involving, and growing Church. And how is that done? By inventing novelties all the time, making big shows, or resorting only to marketing and advertising strategies?
Of course, along the Church’s History we always had innovation, new ways of doing things, contextualizing to local cultures in many areas, and that is good. But that is not the reason the Church grows and goes on; it is the means and forms for the actual reason, Jesus, the foundation. In Acts 2 we see four pillars of the Church:
_The Doctrine of the apostles. This is where we get the foundation for our faith. Jesus uses and validates Scripture. The source for everything we need for our personal, congregational life with Christ.
_Communion - more than “getting together.” It is really caring. Jesus sets the example by asking what those two disciples had that were so dispirited. The word BROTHER appears more than 200 times in the NT. It was the best way to describe what was seen among Christians, our relationship as the body of Christ.
_Breaking the bread. It is not necessarily Holy Supper here, for only bread is mentioned, but it certainly reminds us of that, for the Church gathered not only to have meals together but also to celebrate Holy Communion. And also to get together and to do things together. The unity in purpose. A Christian congregation exists for that, so that together, in the same purpose, we work in worship, communion, education, witness and service.
_Prayers. One of the most powerful weapons that we often keep tucked away, that is, that we don't use as much as we would like. Is our congregation, all Christian congregations standing up and tall today by chance? I'm sure not. Prayers have a big role on that. Now think about if everyone one of us prayed even more for the Kingdom's work among us, what else would we be enabled to do by the power of the Holy Spirit?
These are the four pillars grounded in the foundation that cause the Church to exist and keep going. From there we can create ways and forms to better connect with the reality we are inserted in, reaching out to the lost and teaching the Word of God to maintain His people pinned down steadfast grounded in His Word.
And these are like lights for our eyes, not into them. If we become presumptuous about the things of the Bible, as if we had a higher spirituality than others, then it is being used the wrong way. Jesus is the lamp unto our path, to guide us in solid ground, to the House of the Father. He illuminates our way so that we can have in Him all that we need for our faith life. He guides us in solid ground until we reach the House of the Father.
Cc - Imagine someone of us going to a grocery store which promises to be open from 8 am to 10 pm and asking: “Will you be open at 11 am? And around 3:30PM? Now, I need to pop by around 7PM, will you be open still? ” We know already we can count on that, 8AM to 10PM barring some extraordinary incident.
Psalm 116 today tells us: “Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live”. There is nothing that can change that. The light of Christ and the foundation he will be with is as long as we live, and they guarantee us that we can continue walking, even if problems try to overshadow us. The light of Christ and His foundation will be with us all the time. He guarantees He will be there for us all the time. Even in darker places. After all, if we are able to continue to walk even in the middle of the darkness, it’s because the Light is very close. All the time.
Jesus is our Light and Foundation. Not just from 8am to 11pm. Foundation and Light as long as we live.