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  • Rev. Daniel Benson

Social Distancing on the Road to Emmaus

3rd After Easter, Sunday, April 26th

Preamble / info.

In the light of the good advice from health authorities that we practice ‘physical distancing’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not worshiping in person at the church.

However, Jesus promises that where two or three are gathered, He will be there. So, we can gather in spirit, sharing the Word, hymns, and prayers that bind us together as followers of Jesus and the people of God.

We may not be in the same room, and we may not even be doing this at the same moment in time; but, along with millions of people around the world in any number of languages, we are worshiping God and caring for one another.

In preparation, you may want to have a candle handy (either a real candle or one of those little battery-operated ones). We always light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God.

God be with you!

A Prayer:

“Don’t be afraid,” you repeatedly tell us, God. But it’s so hard to do that. Our world seems turned upside down and danger seems to be around every corner. We’re nervous about the pandemic, and just as we’re getting used to staying home and washing our hands every fifteen minutes, a horror unfolds in Nova Scotia, and families and communities are torn apart and people die – senselessly. And you say, don’t be afraid! Lord, of course, we are afraid, so we come to you for comfort, strength, and assurance that in our darkest and deepest moments of fear, you will be with us. Guide us through this valley of shadows, that we may emerge into the light once again. And, with your guidance, we will not be afraid. Amen.

Lighting of the candle.

In the light of the Risen Christ we light a candle, celebrating our faith that God raised Jesus from death to life. We confess, in the truth of the resurrection, that no darkness can overcome God’s light in the world. Thanks be to God!

Scripture Reading: This is Luke's story of Jesus meeting his friends on the road to Emmaus, a small village not far from Jerusalem. Listen to these words of sacred wisdom, shared today by Jennifer McLaren (you can also read along with Jennifer -- the text is just below the video screen).

Luke 24:13-35 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Meets his Friends On the Road to Emmaus

Now that same day two of [Jesus’ followers] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Music for reflection from Emma Wallace, St. Paul's music director.

The Sermon: where faith, the scriptures, and our world collide.

"Social Distancing on the Road to Emmaus"

Only when we've achieved the 'right distance' between one another and with God will we recognize the angels, know Jesus, or hear the music of God's wondrous creation.


In Easter God promises that life will triumph over death, good over evil, love over hate, and faith over fear. This is the Good News, given by Jesus, shared with one another. It is both a gift and a birthright of those who follow Christ.

Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continue:

· Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;

· Mail your cheque to the church;

· Go on PAR (call Rosie for details);

· Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).

May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered be used faithfully to do build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven!


Our prayer today begins with words by Rev. Penny Nelson, the United Church minister in Tatamagouche, near to Portopique. We hold all the people of Nova Scotia and across our country gently in prayer and offer these words and our hearts to God.

Holy God, Hear the prayers of our hearts this evening. We pray for those who have died in the shootings this weekend, that their souls might find love and peace in your presence. Sustain and uphold all those who are grieving this night, including those who have not yet received word of a loved one's safety. Strengthen with your presence all who are numb with fear and distress, and enfold us all in your love, protection, and care, O God. All this we ask, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Rev. Nelson has asked people to light candles in their windows (artificial battery-operated ones are the safest) as a sign of compassion and solidarity with the families affected by the horrors that have taken place in Nova Scotia.

We continue in prayer,

And, in prayer we give thanks and pray for:

Front line workers and the behind-the-scenes workers:

Doctors, nurses, personal support workers, therapists, and aides;

Caretakers, cooks, admin staff that keep our hospitals, long-term care, and residences running;

The other essential workers that are keeping society running in low-gear so all the rest of us can do our part by staying home and flattening the curve;

Grocery clerks, truck and transit drivers, city workers that keep the water and electricity flowing and the garbage collected;

All those who are practicing physical distancing, often alone and lonely. All those living in self-isolation to ensure the safety of others;

All those who are living in the middle of this pandemic: themselves or loved ones infected;

All those affected by the downturn in the economy: loss of jobs, financial stress, uncertainty;

And, in our own St. Paul's family, we pray for Jean Richardson, Gloria Tracy, Lillian Lowens, Don Lowens and the Lowens family, Sandra Vousden, our members who are teachers and students, and all those whose names dwell in our hearts if not on our lips.

Hear these prayers, gracious God, and in your love, answer.



Let us go into the world with a daring and tender heart; let us go in peace, the world is waiting.

And whatever we do, may we do it as a Resurrection People: followers of Jesus, bearers of God’s Light, and living signs of the Spirit’s fellowship.


One Last Thought.

Paul and Joyce sent this in this week. It’s a bit of magic and a lot of Scripture. It comes out of a Catholic sensibility (note that they observe seven sacraments and we Protestants only two). Nevertheless, there’s much wisdom and humour to be found here. I don’t think I want to play cards with this priest – we’ll have to stick to curling instead.

Closing notes:

· Don’t forget to extinguish your candle!

· As an exercise in keeping in touch with your SPUC family, we’re inviting everyone to open their Church Directory, find your own name and then count up the list by 9 names and call that person. They might be a good friend, they might be a casual acquaintance at church, or they may be someone you don’t know. Give them a call and wish them peace in the name of Christ, and just see how they’re doing.

· I’m grateful for Rev. Penny Nelson for her eloquent prayer.

· The opening prayer was inspired by the words to "Don't be Afraid,” by John Bell and Graham Maule, MV 90.

· Remember to Zoom in to Coffee after church at 11:30, and to Emma’s Hymn-a-long on Easter Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

Rev. Dan is inviting you to "After church coffee time." Time: Apr 26, 2020 11:30 AM America/Toronto Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 829 432 3094 One tap mobile +15873281099,,8294323094# Canada +16473744685,,8294323094# Canada Dial by your location +1 587 328 1099 Canada +1 647 374 4685 Canada +1 647 558 0588 Canada +1 778 907 2071 Canada +1 438 809 7799 Canada Meeting ID: 829 432 3094

Emma is inviting you to St. Paul's Hymn Sing-a-long

Time: Apr 26, 2020 02:00 PM America/Toronto

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 608 875 9725

One tap mobile

+14388097799,,6088759725# Canada

+15873281099,,6088759725# Canada

Dial by your location

        +1 438 809 7799 Canada

        +1 587 328 1099 Canada

        +1 647 374 4685 Canada

        +1 647 558 0588 Canada

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Apr 26, 2020

Thank you! Thank you Jennifer for your reading of scripture, thank you Emma for prayerful music and thank you Paul and Joyce for the much needed gift of laughter. Rev. Dan, thank you for this worship service! You brought such meaning and hope to me as you connected the walk to Emmaus with our time now! Given the tragedy of this week and the on going uncertainty of this time you reminded me that the loving spirit of Christ walks with me and with each one no matter what we are facing.


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