Dear Friends, we offer this self-directed worship outline as a resource for individual, family, or small group use. It is modeled on our regular order of worship, but please adapt it freely to suit your needs and circumstances. We hope this will be a blessing to you.
Gathering in Worship
Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson | Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Announcements, Introductions, and Birthdays
We welcome all to this virtual gathering for worship, hosted by Wilmington Friends Meeting. As you know, our regularly scheduled corporate meeting for worship has been cancelled, in light of the need to slow the spread of COVID-19 by refraining from gathering together in person. However, no virus is powerful enough to stop us from being gathered by the bond of love! Whoever you are, and wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’re joining us. Please participate as you feel led by the Spirit.
Other ways to gather with Friends:
Several years ago, many Friends enrolled in a free online course called Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers. This course is available again, beginning April 27th.
Emily Provance is hosting Quaker Family Devotionals on Zoom. Click here for more information and to sign up.
Barclay Press is offering daily contemplative devotionals on their website.
The Quaker Religious Education Collaborative has started a new Facebook group: Valiant Together: RE Support During COVID-19. Join to connect with religious educators and share ideas!
Powell House, a Quaker retreat center in New York, has a series of virtual workshops planned. Check them out here.
Behind our facades, our bodies and our spirits are sick. We feel fragmented, encased in the traps of our illusions and denials…. We become anorexic to life; just as anorexics deny themselves the nourishment of food, we become so constricted that we are unable to take in the bounty of our existence…. Love and compassion lead to the ability to engage in honest intimacy with ourselves, other people, the world and God. The opening of the heart, the birth of compassion and love from within, is often the beginning of the true spiritual life. – Christina Grof
Please take a moment to quietly collect your thoughts and prepare your heart(s) for worship.
Caring in Community
Minute for Mission
Friends United Meeting has started a Covid-19 Solidarity Fund to help support economically marginalized Friends during this pandemic. You can read the announcement of the fund here, and a story about a feeding program in Kenya here. Both links connect to ways to donate. If you are able, please consider pitching in.
Praises and Concerns
Praise for the ways we are still gathering.
Praise for the continuing joy of spiritual fellowship.
Praise for the lengthening days.
Praise for the ways sacrificial love is being shown.
Praise for finding new rhythms and new life.
Praise for the God-given wisdom and tenacity of scientists.
Praise for the hope that lies within us.
Praise for the unexpected blessing of time with family.
Pray for Friends facing the unexpected challenges of time with family.
Pray for Friends who are struggling with bitterness, especially about politics.
Pray for strength and wisdom for healthcare workers around the world.
Pray that those who help sustain us will find ways to feel renewed.
Pray that Friends will continue to find creative and effectual ways of gathering by card, phone, email, and through online options.
Pray for our political leaders – locally, nationally, and on a global scale – that they would prioritize the peace and health of all people. We pray especially for Governor Mike DeWine, for Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and for Dr. Amy Acton.
Pray for our seniors, both the senior citizens and the seniors in high school and college, for whom this is a particularly isolating experience.
Congregational Prayer Focus
Ada Chape Friends Meeting
Wider Quaker Prayer Focus
Ramallah Friends School
Personal praises and concerns can be found in our congregational email. If you would like to submit a praise or a concern, email it to julie dot rudd at wilmingtonfriendsohio dot org. All submissions will, by default, be made anonymous if shared online.
Light of our world, and light of our hearts, we praise your goodness and your mercy and your ever-pursuing love. Your creative glory is revealed in each new leaf, in each new calf, and even (or perhaps especially) in the hardy dandelions.
Forgive us for our faults, Lord, and renew us. Where we are timid, give us your spirit of power. Where we are greedy, infuse us with your generosity. Where we are fainting, give us rest and give us strength.
Appear before us in your mysterious glory, that we may proclaim with the other disciples that you are our Risen Lord. Continue to mold us as a resurrection people, rich in promise and deep in hope. Take the gifts that we offer of time and talent and treasure, and use them to make your beauty known.
We pray these things in the name of Jesus, who loved us first, AMEN
Offering and Offertory
Ballet Music from Rosamunde | Annette Misener and Philip Roberts
If you wish to financially support the work of Wilmington Friends Meeting, please mail your donation to us at 66 N Mulberry St, Wilmington, OH 45177, use this link to donate online, or download the EasyTithe app and find us there. Or, as a way of embodying generosity, please make a donation to the religious organization or charity of your choice. Thank you for supporting holy work in the world through your hands and prayers and financial gifts.
Hearing the Scriptures
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35
From Bible Gateway:
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”
They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”
He asked them, “What things?”
They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”
Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”
So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Voces Para La Pax | See, The Conquering Hero Comes
(Lyrics available in the first comment.)
Sermon: Faith In Fairy Tales
I want to ask you this morning, Friends, what kind of feast you’re being invited into.
It’s a strange question, in a way, because these feel like famine times. Sometimes those are people literally without food, like Kelly was talking about. If that’s a problem that you are facing, let me know so that the meeting can help you out.
For many of us, though, the famine has been social. Happy hobbit-like introverts like me can even feel the strain, although we seem so well suited for a life of going nowhere and eating takeout from local restaurants. More extroverted people must be climbing the walls.
All of the don’t and nots and stops are exhausting. No gathering at the church. No graduation ceremonies. No sportsball. No visiting the extended family. No Banana Split Festival. It’s like being a child and getting grounded.
The hunger for human contact is real. We cancelled our Easter brunch, of course, which always has delicious food… but most of you are capable of making breakfast for yourself, and those that aren’t can probably handle ordering off a Bob Evans menu. I mean, it has pictures. You just point and eat.
But the cool thing about the Easter Brunch isn’t the egg casseroles, or the bagels and lox, or a second cup of the same coffee or tea that you drink through Sunday School. It’s the people. It’s doing it together.
I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast on Easter, but it felt like a famine. The food itself wasn’t what I was hungry for.
Psalm 84 has been on my heart. It starts like this:
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
My soul yearns, and faints, lo, even as I sit in my house watching Netflix. My heart and flesh cry out that the company of my dog is, surprisingly, not enough. I hoard experiences of connecting in person with people like a squirrel hoards acorns.
The Psalmist, in Psalm 84, doesn’t distinguish between longing for the temple and longing for God. That makes sense, since they would have been thinking of the temple as the place where God dwells.
We are sometimes too quick to respond, as Friends, that God dwells everywhere and within every person, so we can worship without formal religion. This pandemic has taught us a lot about what it means to be human, and one of the lessons is how much we need each other.
That of God resides within us, to be sure, but we need to see the reflections in one another. We get to God as part of the people of God, not just on our own.
I don’t mean to be gloomy about this. I was just reminded of a book I read years ago, right before I candidated at Wilmington Friends: Fredrick Buechner’s Telling The Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale. If you were here when I was interviewing, you may remember 2011 Julie preaching a too-long sermon at New York speed about Jacob wrestling the angel and how it’s a tragedy and a comedy and a fairy tale.
Or you might not remember that at all, because it was eight-and-a-half years ago, or I got excited and talked too fast for you to catch any of it.
Doesn’t matter. You just need that three-part structure in mind: tragedy, comedy, fairy tale. That’s what the Gospel is shaped like.
Take Cleopas and his friend, for instance. Their story starts off as a tragedy.
Cleopas and his friend are walking away from the worst Passover of their lives. It started with the raucous parade that we now celebrate on Palm Sunday, then descended into a raid on the temple, public arguments with the Jewish temple leaders, and Jesus’ arrest, conviction at a kangaroo court, and public execution as a rebel, as a traitor.
This man Jesus had embodied their hopes and dreams, and while some women this morning were telling some wild tale about angels – you know how women are – it’s clear that the story is over.
The dream is done. Perhaps another Messiah will come along, someday, but the Messiahship of Jesus was a failure as bitter as the cheap wine he was offered while dying.
Then, a man appeared alongside them as they walked, joining in their conversation.
Now, the only thing I can assume here is that Cleopas and his friend were addled by grief, because everybody knows that the first rule of a failed insurrection is that you don’t talk about the failed insurrection.
And you particularly don’t tell random strangers on the road that you were part of the band of insurrectionists whose leader was recently crucified. Not if you prefer to remain off the cross, that is.
But here Cleopas is, treating this stranger like his new confidante, sharing the whole tragic story. He says some of the saddest words in the whole Bible, while telling this story: we had hoped.
We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
You know that sting of dashed hopes, I’m sure.
Jesus climbs up on his favorite hobby horse, talking about Moses and the Prophets, which is one good way of recognizing a disguised person. I think that’s true of most of us, that you could disguise us like something out of a spy movie but we’d still be recognized by what we can’t help ranting about.
But here’s Jesus doing his whole usual spiel about how the prophets say that of course the Messiah is going to suffer, and Cleopas and his friend still don’t recognize him, still don’t think to themselves, “hey, this stranger’s rant sounds a lot like how Jesus used to go off about the prophets and how glory wasn’t what we thought it was.”
And that’s funny, and it’s meant to be funny. The story is shifting from tragedy to comedy. Jesus is there, undercover, unrecognized. They’re grieving the death of Jesus, but the reader is in on the joke — we know that Jesus is alive.
So Jesus gives them the whole theological spiel, like any good teacher, and they still don’t get it. We’re not meant to judge Cleopas and his friend for this. We’re meant to identify with them. We’re walking down the same road, blind to the grace that surrounds us. The joke is on us, too.
And then, the story shifts to fairy tale. They came to the edge of the village where they were headed, and keep in mind that liminal spaces, the boundary lines, are often where spiritual experiences happen.
Jesus acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.”
There are several sermons just in that verse. They didn’t recognize who Jesus was, but they felt compelled to invite him in. It makes me think about that verse about entertaining angels unaware.
So, he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them.
Bring to mind every fairy tale image of eating that you know. There’s Persephone with the pomegranate seeds, and Snow White with the apple. There’s the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel, and the witch’s garden in Rapunzel.
Tables are where deals are made, where relationships bloom, where important things happen.
So, Jesus sat down as a guest, and then he made the table his own. He did what the host would normally have done: he picked up the bread, blessed it, broke it, and started handing it out.
And here’s the fairy tale detail: that’s the moment when Cleopas and his friend recognize who Jesus really is.
And then, Jesus disappeared. They see him for who he is, and then he’s gone. Their eyes are opened, but they can’t see him before them anymore.
Isn’t that how it goes? A glimpse of glory, then it’s on to the next holy scavenger hunt.
They had a feast, though, at that table. They had communion at their moment of deepest grief. And they realized that their dinner guest had been the Risen Christ.
The tragedy was that Jesus had been crucified. The comedy was that Jesus was walking right beside them, unrecognized.
But the fairy tale, as unrealistic as it sounds, is where we’re called to live. That’s what Easter is all about. Death is defeated, believe it or not. Powers are at work that we can’t fully comprehend. And love and light will win.
And here we are, with the feast. Here we are a stewards of a well that won’t run dry, servants of a God who provides manna day by day. We just have to dig in.
So, what feasts are you attending? How are you, in this tragic moment, finding communion with friends and with Christ?
Sharing in Silence
During waiting worship, we listen together for God’s voice. As a virtual participant in this service, this may mean a time of waiting worship with those gathered in your family or small group. It could also be an individual experience. These breath prayers may be helpful to you, as you wait for God’s presence. If you want an online experience, you can join the Ben Lomond Quaker Center Online Meeting.
Blessing and Sending
Close of Waiting Worship
Thank you, Friends, for blessing us with your mindful and loving presence here. As we move toward the end of our time of worship, join us again in song.
Worship Christ the Risen King
(Lyrics available at the link.)
Thank you for sharing this virtual space with us! All week long, may the Spirit of Christ teach you new ways of living into resurrection. May you be fully present to your tragedies, ready to laugh at your comedies, and willing to believe in the fairy tale of resurrection. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and always. AMEN.
Cleveland Baptist Church | Christ The Lord Is Risen Today