Message for Sunday 30 April 2017–“Walking with Jesus”

Here we are two weeks out of Easter. As time passes, we may face an increasing struggle to maintain our spiritual momentum. Thankfully, today’s lectionary scripture selections remind us that God’s message continues, along with Jesus’ enlivening presence.

In Luke 24:13-35 we have the story of the post-resurrection Jesus walking alongside two of his disciples, one of whom was named Cleopas.  A disguised Jesus joined the pair who were traveling to the village of Emmaus.  Neither of the two disciples recognized Jesus as he asked about the tumultuous events culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection. But to their credit, Cleopas and the other disciple responded superbly by summarizing Jesus’ significance.

There is value in this story of the two disciples journeying with Jesus.  Aside from evidence of Jesus rising from the dead, a lesson is that Christians are called to share their faith with anyone willing to hear it. Cleopas and the other disciple did well in this regard. Another feature of the narrative is that for various reasons, including disguise, God’s presence is not always recognized.

With the busy-ness of life and too many distractions it is no wonder that people are detached from greater spiritual awareness. The result is that many today still do not see Jesus. Others, like Cleopas and the anonymous disciple, are willing to share their Christian faith even with someone who appears to be a stranger. A comforting thought is that God is present despite not always being recognized. So, even when we’re reluctant to share the gospel we can push through our hesitation, overcome our shyness, and take heart in that God is there in our midst, listening and responsive to our needs.

Next, we move on to a unified them from the scripture in both Acts and 1 Peter. The verses from these two scriptures sare related in that Peter is the messenger, attesting to a powerful message: Joyfully we proclaim God to the world. In Acts, Peter encouraged his listeners to be baptized in Jesus’ name so that their sins would be forgiven and the Holy Spirit received. Peter then brilliantly summarized the gospel message that continues to inspire us: “Now that you have purified your souls . . . love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew . . . through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23).

Let’s receive Peter’s words and put them into practice. We prove to the world the authenticity of our faith when we love one another. Our faith walk must match our faith talk lest we become hypocrites, like those who teach one thing and yet do something entirely different. No matter how we parse it, love is always at the root of an authentic spiritual calling. In this manner, we know that anything tied to love and truth relates to our Christian vision, mission and purpose.

Spiritual renewal and transformation mean that we must recognize and emphasize God. If we understand and live through the power of our resurrected Lord then our priorities will become aligned and we can build and advance a consensus. The church is composed of brothers and sisters of faith who agree on a purpose, vision and mission, united in the power of the Holy Spirit to get us from point A to point B. We utilize personal and church resources toward fulfilling the gospel, which will help us make decisions best-suited to who we are and what God is calling us to become. I can guarantee you that none of this will be easy, but the journey will be joyous and fulfilling.

People everywhere thirst for a better life. A crucial part of our mission as God’s children is to demonstrate that we walk with God, that our priorities are blessed with spiritual vitality, directing all other areas of life. When we encounter strangers we are not to be shy, bashful or ashamed about sharing our faith. People we encounter in daily living need to know of our transforming belief in life eternal and each of us has the responsibility and privilege of proclaiming and praising the God whom we claim to worship.

How we as Christians think and act is evidence of how we value the resurrected Lord. We can also share words, which sometimes is the only way our relationship with God is known to others. Yet, even more powerful than words is a life that demonstrates a walk with the Almighty. Speaking of which, how is your walk with Jesus lately? What did you learn about yourself and how did you feel when sharing the good news of the Gospel message? Even if you feel inadequate, don’t allow fear to determine how and when you share your faith. Jesus is there comforting you in the most inconvenient and awkward situations. It’s all worth it because there’s no better provision for a journey than to have God as your partner on life’s highways and byways.   –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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