Clevedon July 7 2019
Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
So something about Heather and my last few weeks
Something about the journey we are on
Something about the presence of God.
So the last few weeks Heather and I have been on a walk called a Camino – which simply means, road.
And for hundreds, and thousands of years pilgrims have walked a number of roads on some kind of spiritual journey.
So that’s what Heather and I were up to – this time about 300 kms from Porto in Portugal
to Santiago in Spain.
And we carry on our backs one of these and we identify fellow pilgrims by this shell.
So on this journey we received news that Jennifer Kelly, died. A key member of our church here at Clevedon who had worked with Heather and me for 40 years.
And just as it did with you, this plunged us into shock, disbelief, and we walked silently
for some part of the next day reflecting on
our friend’s death.
And as I walked the picture that came so strongly to mind was the disciples on their Camino, their road, to Emmaus following the death of Jesus. And so this became a living, a very strong reflective time for me.
And I began to imagine that on my road this day
our Lord, had come up along side me.
And I imagined the story from the Bible.
Here were two men obviously in grief and shock and as they walk they talk about their road over the last days.
They talk about Jesus, their friend who had died.
I can imagine there were words like,
I can’t believe this has happened.
This was so unexpected.
Why did it happen?
All the things we ask when faced with a crisis moment.
And as these disciples walk
what seems to be a stranger comes alongside them.
A stranger who had observed them.
Someone has referred to Jesus as the walking God,
never in a hurry
the one who walks along side of us.
So I guess, as you do when you walk down a road with others,
you can sometimes get a hint of what might be happening in their lives.
Jesus had seen their faces
he had heard parts of their conversation.
But more, because this stranger is Jesus
the one who knows their hearts
he knows all that has happened
all they are talking about
all their fears and grief.
And yet, and this is so profound
he invites them to tell Him their story.
He says, “What were you talking about?”
And they stand still with pain written across their faces.
Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard about what has happened in Jerusalem?
And again this so profound a response.
It could have been,
“Yes I’ve heard!” End of story.
But the rather strange response from Jesus is: What things?
There is an invitation to speak.
And should they choose, an invitation to be vulnerable.
You see there are two sides to such an event.
There are the so-called facts.
Our friend Jesus died!
Then there is the other.
What we call mythos,
the, this is what happened and this is how it’s effecting our lives.
And this is how I am feeling right now.
Not facts and science.
This is the heart stuff,
the vulnerability stuff,
the stuff that brings tears from your eyes,
and sometimes a wealth of pain, long hidden in the depths
of our subconscious.
And so they talk about Jesus of Nazareth and all the hopes and plans and dreams they had.
And when they have finished their story
the stranger responds:
Guys – come on you know what we believe,
you know what is written about the messiah,
you need to remember what we have all known and heard for generations.
And he explains it all to them, reminding them of
what they believe and why
and their history as a people of God.
And as he does
something changes within them
lights come on
belief is fired.
Maybe they were reminded that, the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end
they are new every morning.
This is not a hell fire and damnation sermon
of a demented zealot,
this is the gentle voice of the divine lover
whose heart has gone out to these men in their grief.
And so on my Camino I imagined our Lord come along side me
and asking, “What is going through your mind as you walk?
And me saying
don’t you know the things that have happened in Clevedon?
And His response, “What things?”
Talk to me Mark.
And so I tell Him
and how unfair it seems
and how sudden it all was
and how we will miss her.
And how our church family in Clevedon are coping with this.
And what now?
And all I can say is that while I walked
the scriptures were being opened to me.
Words I had heard since I was a child.
Words I had read
words I had listened to.
Testimonies of the love of God in life and death.
And scripture itself.
What can separate us from the love of God?
Not even death!
Behold I am with you always.
Even in the shadow of death I need not fear
for Thou art with me!
And so many more
and just as the disciples on the Emmaus Rd were able to say:
“Didn’t a fire burn within us as He spoke,”
so for me there came the sense of release
and thanksgiving and hope
and a sure knowledge that our friend yet lived
somehow someway in the arms of the one who says:
“And now, I make all things new!”
I think the best preaching is simply reminding us of what we already know. And what was coming to me on my road was not something new.
It was a gentle reminder of what I already knew.
Brothers and sisters you and I and everyone we know are on a Camino.
And the shell we carry on our backs is our humanity.
That’s how we recognise fellow travellers
travellers who meet us on our road
and who invite us, and we them
to share the load we carry.
And between the now and the then
in our lives and the lives of those we travel with
all myriad of things
joy will be ours.
And He will be ours.
This God this one who walks with us
and who in our dark times and joys, invites us to tell Him about
And when we cry out, “Don’t you know the things that have happened to me,
still with the voice of invitation responds: Tell me. What things?
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and glory, world without end. Amen
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