Message for Sunday 26 April 2020: “Your Faith Journey”

Here we are two weeks out of Easter. As time passes, many people struggle to maintain their spiritual momentum. Thankfully, today’s scripture is a reminder that God’s message continues to live through people of faith.

Luke 24:13-35 has 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 recent events, culminating in his crucifixion and resurrection. But to their credit, Cleopas and the other disciple responded superbly to Jesus by correctly summarizing the momentous events.

A helpful lesson from today’s story is that Christians are called to share their faith with anyone willing to hear it. Cleopas and the other disciple did well in this. The curious bit about Jesus disguising himself suggests that, for various reasons, God’s presence is not always recognized. Have you ever felt that God was with you but you couldn’t specify how? With life’s many distractions it is no wonder that people are detached from spiritual awareness. The result is that many today still do not recognize God in their life. Others, like Cleopas and his companion, 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 you feel reluctant to share the gospel you can push through your hesitation, overcome your shyness, and take heart in that God is there in your midst, listening and responsive. It’s not that you have to rewire your personality to become an extrovert but unless you make contact with those around you they may never know about the God you profess.

Next, there are insights in other of today’s lectionary readings in both Acts and 1 Peter. The verses from these two scriptures are related in that Peter is the messenger, attesting to a powerful proclamation: 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. “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).

Receive Peter’s words and put them into practice. Let the light of your faith radiate as you practice compassion and demonstrate love. Authentic spirituality means that your faith walk matches your faith talk. The alternative is hypocrisy, as happens with those people who teach one thing and yet do something entirely different. No matter how you say it, love is always at the root of your relationship with God and one another. In this manner, rest-assured that anything tied to love and truth strengthens your Christian witness.

Spiritual renewal and transformation involve recognizing and emphasizing God. If you understand and live through the power of your resurrected Lord then your priorities will become aligned and you’ll help build a stronger faith family. Speaking of which, 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 from point A to point B. An effective faith family utilizes personal and church resources toward fulfilling the gospel, which will foster better organizational decision making. None of this is easy, but the journey will be joyous and fulfilling.

A crucial part of your mission is to demonstrate God’s presence in the way you love other people. Ideally, as people spiritually mature it becomes increasingly evident how their attitudes and actions reveal how God empowers them. As how best to accomplish this, note that there are different styles and some folks are not as comfortable in certain social situations as in others. However, each person of faith is called to share love and the faith behind it. People you encounter in daily living need to have what you have, which is a transforming relationship with God. Each person of faith can share the responsibility and privilege of proclaiming a life guided by the Almighty.

How you think and act is evidence of how you value the resurrected Lord. You can share words, which sometimes are the only way your relationship with God is known to others. Even more powerful than words is when your behavior illuminates your walk with God. How is your journey with Jesus lately? What did you learn about yourself and how did you feel when sharing the good news of the Gospel? Even if you feel inadequate, don’t allow fear to determine how and when you share your spirituality. Jesus is comforting you in the most inconvenient and awkward situations. Beyond the road to Emmaus, God is with you on all of life’s highways and byways. Embrace your spiritual walk and continue your wonderful faith journey.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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