On Sunday 17 May 2020, Apostle Peter Lambert conducted the Sunday morning divine service at Silvertown congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into sign language at the altar.
He was accompanied by Bishop Leon Ravell and a small NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Victory through grace (EH 222)
Bible word: So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” (Luke 24:15-17)
My dear brothers and sisters, I welcome you to this divine service this morning, and for all of us, I wish that we experience God, His presence and His love today. We live, in South Africa, in lockdown and we have many restrictions. We cannot go where we want to, but it is wonderful that despite all the restrictions, we can have a taste of the kingdom of God. No restriction can stop the kingdom of God from visiting us.
Today’s Bible word refers to the day when Jesus rose from the dead and two disciples were on their way to the town of Emmaus. They were incredibly sad, as they had just experienced the suffering and execution of Jesus. Jesus had just left them, perhaps in a manner, they never would have thought would happen. As they were walking, Jesus Himself joined them – but they did not know it was Him. He asked them “what kind of conversation is this that you are having?” This is today’s word – Jesus is asking us today “what kind of conversation are you having?” The disciples asked Him “are you a stranger here, because do you not know what everyone is talking about?” Jesus, of course, knew exactly what they were talking about.
What made them not recognise Jesus immediately? This was not someone they heard about or saw occasionally. This was their Master – this was the One whom they followed, and they could not recognise Him. Today, the Lord wants to say to us that what happened to the disciples can happen to us. God allows our lives, He allows His work, He allows the path to the day of the Lord not to go the way that we thought or would have liked it to go. When you go through sorrow and suffering alone it is even more difficult. It is saddest when you do not know comfort. The One who can help is right here. When you go through terrible suffering and all the things that are unpleasant and you feel there is no hope, the hope is here. Jesus promised His Apostles that He would send a Comforter. Today the Comforter leads us. Do we recognise that the Comforter is still here? This is not always easy because of our concerns. The Lord says, “I have given you my Comforter to save you” and this has not changed. Jesus hears every conversation. Jesus hears not only the negative - perhaps our despondency, and maybe our unbelief. God is faith, God is truthful, and our Lord hears every conversation. The Lord even hears the unspoken conversation.
We could ask; “Is the Lord saying that we cannot be sad?” Not at all, since all we need to do is to look at the example of Jesus when He went through suffering. If we look at His life, we can see that there were moments where He expressed fear when He said to His Father “if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me.” That was not His choice, but He immediately said, “not My will, but Your will be done.” Perhaps on a simple level, we can say that God’s will was for Jesus to die, but God’s will is to save us! The will of God was to save all the souls of humanity. When Jesus said to His Father “Your will be done” He was bowing to the higher will of God. He knew that dying on the cross meant the saviour of the souls of humanity. Perhaps we can also have this kind of conversation with the Lord when we can say Lord, there are certain things I would never have chosen for my life, certain things I would never have chosen to suffer, but I bow to Your will so that I can become worthy and I can be lead to Your kingdom. This the will of God. God wants to save us; is that not a comfort? Despite how we are affected in this life, the will of God is for all of us to be in eternal fellowship with Him – what a wonderful comfort! When Jesus was on the cross, He asked His Father “why have You forsaken Me?” – an expression of loneliness. This came from Jesus who came from His Father. This confirms that we may express our loneliness and hurt. Let us consider how the conversation of Jesus transformed. When Jesus drew His last breath, He said to His Father “into Your hands I commit My spirit.” He moved from “why have You forsaken Me?” to “into Your hands I commit My spirit”. Can we do the same? Jesus knew that His Father was there, and His Father would look after Him, raise Him and receive Him. So we come to our Father and say “into Your hands I place my life, my struggle, my battle, my sorrow, my pain, my fear, my loneliness” – whatever it is, I put it into Your hands.
Another conversation Jesus had on the cross was with the criminal to whom He said: “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus, in that moment despite His own suffering, found time to care for the soul of His neighbour. He did not offer to help the body of this man, even though Jesus had performed many miracles in the past. He prioritised the soul of His neighbour. In this time where many suffer the Lord asks if our conversation is only about saving the body, is our conversation only about caring for our neighbour and their earthly needs or can we, like Jesus in the moment when He was in the greatest suffering of His life, say; ‘today, you will be with Me in paradise’. He shared the grace and love of God. He shared what was eternal in the moment when it seemed as if everything was lost and hopeless.
Jesus, while on the cross, also said to His mother “Mother, behold your Son.” In His moment of suffering, when everything was at its end, in a moment when Jesus could have said that He did not care about the people and their future because of how they treated Him, He took care of the future. He took care of His mother - He took care of His loved one ensuring that someone was going to care for her. Our catechism explains that the statement was also symbolic of Jesus entrusting His church to the Apostle ministry. Jesus teaches us that we could be in hopeless situations but, that our future is what matters, not only the present. We remain a people who think of the future. Often in crisis, it brings out the best but also the worst. Our children are the future generation. When they sit and listen to us in a time of trial, crisis and suffering, what do they hear? Will they one day be able to say that we had examples of faith? Let us sow the seed of faith in the young those and take care of the future. Is it the kingdom of God that we live for? Do we desire for the return of Christ more than our desire for a change in our present circumstances? Dear brothers and sisters, our longing for the coming of the Lord should be stronger than this.
Another beautiful conversation that the Lord would love us to have in this time is a conversation of gratitude. Gratitude is a wonderful antidote for negativity and dissatisfaction. I am reminded of the story of a man who always prayed to the Lord filled with thankfulness. Thankfulness was a feature of his prayer all his life. Then came a time when he fell into the most terrible circumstances - suffering and need like never, unlike what he was used to. He then went onto his knees and said to the Lord “dear Lord, I thank you that all the other days of my life were not like today.” He could look at what God had done for Him all the other days of His life. On a practical level in this time one hears here and there a complaint that we must do without one thing or another. I must ask myself, is what I must give up really the worst, and is it everything?
In conclusion, something wonderful happened to these disciples when they reflected afterwards. Later, when Jesus broke bread with them, they realised this is Jesus and then when He left, they said: “did our hearts not burn when He was talking to us?” Brothers and sisters, when Jesus was talking to them while they were walking, they did not know it was Him. Afterwards, they realised their heart was burning – that conversation touched them even though Jesus did not reveal Himself as they would have liked. The Lord could ask us today as well, when Jesus reveals Himself, “does my heart burn?” Jesus decided to reveal Himself to the visible church. Do our hearts still burn? We want to take this word today and accept that the Lord says to us that He listens to every conversation. He knows what we feel. Let us change our conversation to “into Your hands I place my spirit”. We want to do so gratefully so that our hearts may burn when Christ speaks to us. Amen.
Please pray the Lord’s prayer.
Thoughts from Apostle Peter B Lambert