Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Surprise!

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

May 4:

Call:    1 Peter 1: 17-23
Text:    Luke 24: 13-35
Closing: Communion
Prayer:  W&S #174
Psalm:   Psalm 116: 1-4, 12-29    (837)

            Surprise!

Last week I wanted to make it perfectly clear
   That the first Easter was a full 24 hour day
   Despite our tendency to think it ended that morning when Mary said to the disciples,
         "I have seen the Lord."

To make that point, I shared what was probably more about DST
   Than anyone here had thought he/she needed to know.

It is possible that I spent more time on the subject
Than a normal person would have
But
if you remember the point,
I'll gladly accept - or endure - whatever comments
      any of you might have made

After I made my point,
   You and I took a look at the evening of that day
The evening in which Jesus appeared to his disciples
Or most of them anyway (for Thomas wasn't there)
   And then we moved ahead a week
And looked at the following Sunday
         When Jesus made a second appearance to them
         This time   the group included Thomas
Thomas had been out Easter night
And then had refused to believe what his fellow disciples told him:
that Jesus had visited them.

And he told them of his disbelief forcefully and with gusto
   Saying that he needed
to see the nail holes in the hands
   And he needed
To put his hand in the hole
That was made when they pierced Jesus' side

But, of course, when on the second week,
Jesus appeared again and offered Thomas that opportunity,
Thomas crumpled and fell to his knees.

And so there was morning and there was evening
   On that very first Easter

However: There were also      several hours in between:

And this morning's scripture helps fill us in
on what happened during some of those intervening hours.

For Easter afternoon came after
   Mary's morning declaration that she had seen the Lord
And it came before
Jesus' evening visit to the disciples.

This story of that afternoon     tells us about a man named Cleopas
   A follower who had been shaken by the crucifixion

So the story begins with Cleopas and a companion
   Trudging discouragedly along the road to Emmaus
And it ends with Cleopas getting quite a surprise.

This story - like all the stories of that day -
needs to be experienced and not just heard.

To get a feel for this scripture,
   Let me tell you the story about
      Two young lieutenants in the middle third of the 19th century
      Who like Cleopas, got quite a surprise

These two young men were recent graduates of West Point.
   They took pride in that
And it was indeed    a worthy accomplishment

However, their pride in their accomplishment
And their enthusiasm for starting out in the world
Combined - as they often do -
   To make the young men a bit too self confident.

These two were assigned to Fort Smith.  That's in Arkansas

On their first morning there,
they encountered a heavy set man
   Whom they quickly identified as a farmer

Enthusiastic as they were, they called out
   "Good morning, old fellow"
and anticipated that this farmer would be quite pleased
   to be greeted by people of their rank and importance.

The older man returned the greeting.

After a few minutes of conversation about crops
   The recent West Point graduates invited him for a drink
He accepted and while he didn't actually drink himself,
He had quite a chat with them.
I don't know exactly what the chat involved
   I assume, however, that much of it was the young men
      Boasting about their backgrounds and education
      Conveying their thoughts that their presence would
make the army much better.

Still the "farmer" must have revealed
that he was married  and that he had a daughter,
   For as their informal get-together broke up, they called out
      "Give our best to the old woman and the gal."

My sources do not tell me what happened immediately after the "farmer" left.

But I suspect that the young lieutenants probably
   Had a few more drinks
   Laughed about their encounter with the "farmer"
   And thought that the man would forever remember
      Having met people as important as they were.

Later that day, they formally reported to the commanding general

The general was Zachary Taylor

Their faces immediately turned ashen and their jaws dropped lower than they ever imagined that they could

Notorious for not wearing his uniform or putting on airs,
   Taylor was the man whom they had misidentified as a farmer

Taylor, accompanied by his wife and daughter,
   Returned their salute and
I suspect with an inward smile -
Introduced his family saying,
      "I'd like you to meet   the old woman and the gal."
Like Thomas, who got quite the surprise
when Jesus appeared and offered to let him see and touch,
These two enthusiastic young lieutenants
   Got quite a surprise when they met General Taylor

Both Thomas and the lieutenants
Probably felt like crawling away
   And hiding someplace where they couldn't be found.

Our lieutenants undoubtedly
Tried to figure out a way that they could avoid the general
for the rest of their tour

I am also sure that all those emotions came back to them some years later,
when in 1848 Taylor was elected to be
the 12th President of the United States.

With that story in our minds
   Let's turn to the scripture
   And observe the surprise another couple of guys received
         [Luke 24: 13-31]

The surprise that Cleopas and his companion experienced
when Christ revealed himself
      Resembled the surprise of the young lieutenants
      When General Taylor revealed himself

But the stories have some significant differences.

In the first place
   In their ignorance, the lieutenants were playful and proud
But   Cleopas and friend were saddened, discouraged, and hurt.


In the second place
   It is likely that the lieutenants did most of the talking
   Cleopas and friend, however, after starting the conversation
        Spent their time listening to the remarkable interpretation
      The unrecognized Jesus gave to them.

Most importantly, in the third place
   Whereas the lieutenants wanted to crawl under a rock, hide,
and not let anyone know about their experience
   Cleopas and friend responded differently     [Luke 24: 32-35]

Still the Taylor story gives us a chance to feel the Emmaus surprise
   and thus to experience
the lessons or messages of the entire 24 hours of Easter.

The first message
   Like the stories
of Christ's appearances  to Mary    and to the disciples
is, of course, the revelation that Jesus is alive.

The second message logically and necessarily follows.

That message is that we - you and I must respond to the first -
   By going out and telling the story.

We can't be like the lieutenants who wanted to run away and hide
We can't be like Peter and John on Easter morning
When they simply went back home
Leaving Mary Magdalene alone in the garden
We can't be like Thomas
who refused to believe the testimony of his companions.

We must instead be like
   Mary who told the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"
   Like the disciples who told Thomas they too had seen him
And   Like Cleopas and his companion who spent that afternoon walking and talking with him
   And having their hope - and ours - resurrected and restored

They spent Easter afternoon walking the 4-7 miles
   To get to Emmaus
And then after Christ revealed himself
      Turned around and walked all the way back
         To tell the eleven and their companions.

Today we accept Christ's invitation to His table
   I pray that when we experience his revelation in the bread
That we are like those we have met in the scriptures
   And thus, like them, go out to tell the story.