Lent 2017 - The Road to Emmaus, Mondays in Lent at Broad Street Methodist church, PE11 1TB, 7:30pm; all welcome. Poster created by the Weatherly-Bartons (with design by He Qi) available for download at the foot of this page along with the slides of Bob Earl's Notice of Intent - 'Prophet's duties and competencies'.
Monday 3 April: The suffering Servant
The last in this year's walk along the Emmaus Road was introduced by Jane Baldwin, reflecting on words from Isaiah 53; the 'Servant Song' (by Richard Gillard) was sung and thanks were offered to all involved, especially our speakers, Steve & Annie Weatherly-Barton.Annie reviewed the previous sessions and offered various layers of meaning in the word servant: ebed (slave), el (ranked servant or divine hero), shamash or shamas (sexton, also the ninth menorah candle) and asked 'Who is the Servant of the Lord?' God refers to people like Abraham and Moses as 'My servant' with an intimacy of relationship.
The Greek for servant suggests a 'bond servant'; 'diakonos' means servant of the king, with emphasis on sacrifice of oneself for the good of another. cf Matthew 20.25-28
Steve Weatherly-Barton introduced this week's them of The suffering servant with the song 'I am a servant' by Larry Norman
Reflecting on this year's passage Luke 24.25-27, the place of Isaiah as the 'Rolls Royce of prophets' was illustrated with a sample from the Dead Sea scrolls; Isaiah has been described as more of an evangelist than a prophet.
The lecture continued by looking at the servant songs, highlighted by Isaiah 53.3a
Isaiah was familiar to the Christians of the New Testament; in Acts 8.26-40, Philip uses Isaiah 53.7f to explain the Gospel
The songs of Isaiah were first identified by Bernhard Duhm in 1892. We looked at the songs in two ways: first the predictive words as seen in 50.6 & 53.5, 7, 9 & 12. 'Who did the prophet think he was speaking about?'
Steve suggested that Isaiah may have simply been overwhelmed by the presence of God or the spreading of the suffering of God's people Israel.
The prophet is seeing that the people of Israel have been on a journey of suffering in slavery, exile, hatred and scorn even today. But the passages are too personal.
Secondly the songs could be seen as prophetic, explaining and proclaiming what God is doing and prophesying something amazing that God is going to do.
Song one 42.1
Seeing something new in the journey of God's people, on a mission to change the world
When Jesus came out of the water, something visible happened...
Song two 49.1-4
Predictions of someone who will be anointed by the spirit of God but who would also be discouraged
Song three 50.4-9
Mocked and physically abused, the Servant puts his trust in God.
Song four 52.13 - 53.12
The suffering and atoning death. The well known verse 'He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.'
Steve concluded exhorting the Church to rediscover the vastness of the Gospel, that speaks of the death of Christ without apology, open to the power of the spirit, and to be passionate about justice. His prayer was that we see the same passion for our land, proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, the resurrection and the power of the spirit. As we reflect and celebrate, fill our hearts with the winner of the Gospel of the kingdom of God
The evening concluded with the song 'Were you there' by the Annie Moses band
Monday 27 March: The suffering Prophets
Bob Earl introduced the fourth lecture in this year's series with a light-hearted 21st century look at the 'Duties and competencies of a prophet' (slideshow available at the foot of this page), followed by the song 'Days of Elijah'.
Annie Weatherly-Barton outlined the meaning of the word Shalom, reflecting further on the Greek as eiréné. The word Shalom appears many times in the Bible; Annie highlighted Psalm 85.10 and Colossians 1.20, noting the place of shalom on the cross, breaking down barriers and bringing reconciliation.
Steve Weatherly-Barton welcomed Kevin Pallister (and his baritone euphonium) who introduced and played the piece 'God help the outcasts'.
Prophets throughout the Bible have experienced suffering in various ways. As well as those in the New Testament who have spoken and lived prophetically like Peter, our speaker took a moment to describe some of the Old Testament prophets that Jesus may have referred to on the road to Emmaus:
* Jonah - who ran away but was caught in a storm, prayed from inside the great fish and ended up on dry land.. God reissued his call and this time Jonah obeyed; and his ministry was described as astonishingly effective, even with the government issuing a call to repentance. In Matthew 12.40 Jesus quotes Jonah 1.17.
* Hosea was noted as the only prophet from the Northern Kingdom who left a written account. His whole life was taken over by his calling to be a prophet. Hosea was commanded to marry an unfaithful wide, Gomer and named his children as a warning message - and yet he still prophesied about God's call and love. And if that wasn't enough, God called Hosea to buy back his wife even though she has left him (implying she was in slavery).
The prophecies included 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings' (Hosea 6.6)
In his lifetime, Jesus quoted from the book of Hosea in Matthew 9.6-13 in conversation with the tax collector.
* Jeremiah was described as a constantly rejected prophet (Jeremiah 2.1-11); Steve said how it sends shivers down the spine to see the scale of idolatry these days. When Jeremiah complained to God about that he was ridiculed (Jeremiah 20), the Lord God replied 'Is not my word like fire...?' (Jeremiah 23.29)
The prophet includes one glorious glimmer of hope with the foretelling of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31.31).
The picture by Caravaggio of the supper at Emmaus was shown; Jesus asked the disciples on the road if they remembered what he had said - and they remembered him in the breaking of the bread. Jesus opened the scriptures to them and showed that he indeed had suffered for them.
The song 'Waiting for a miracle' by Bruce Cockburn was played to conclude the evening
Monday 20 March: The suffering Psalmists
The third in this year's series was introduced by Ros Lukins, reading from Psalm 13 and drawing from Bear Grylls' autobiography - God's peace comes in the midst difficult of circumstances. The contemporary song 'What kind of love is this?' (sung by Sarah Lacy, written by Bryn & Sally Haworth) was played.
Annie Weatherly-Barton expanded on the meaning of the word Torah, the books of the law, helping Old Testament readers to "love honour and obey, not eBay." The Torah teaches the way to live - holding someone's hand rather than using a stick.
Torah was translated into the Greek as nomos - which misses some of the rich depth of the original meaning of teaching - doctrine of life. The English translation 'Law' misses out even more.
Steve Weatherly-Barton developed the lecture on Luke 24 25-27, The suffering psalmists, looking at how Jesus fulfilled the words of the psalmist - not just, not even mainly - in the fulfilment of predictions but in the fulfilment - the filling out - of the spiritual journey of the Psalmist.
Noting that about one third of the psalms are laments where the psalmists face the realities of life and share them with God, the book as a whole moves from a concentration of laments to a focus on praise. It is an example of a young person maturing and working out their faith as they grow. No-one has been more honest with God than Jeremiah.
Example: the lament of Psalm 6 1-3 turns to acceptance in verse 9. On the road to Emmaus, surely Jesus would have drawn on this and other psalms to explain that the messiah had to suffer? The gospels record our Lord quoting from scripture throughout. On the cross, Jesus cries out with words seen in Psalm 22. In his earthly ministry, the most frequent quotes from these books was:
1st: Psalms - more than any other book
Peter, on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.24-28 quoted from Joel (the prophecy of the coming of the Holy Spirit) and then Psalm 16 and Psalm 110
Our speaker noted how Heaven is mentioned very briefly in the Old Testament; the average OT believer was not full of hope.. And yet, Peter said how king David knew God's promise that one of his descendants would be placed on his throne; seeing what was to come, his evidence was taken from the hope seen in the Psalms. Acts 2.33-34 continues with God's plan for the risen and exalted Christ to pour out his Spirit.
Jesus quoted the same Psalm 110 in Mark 12.35-37, inviting the listener to 'Have a think about this.. Don't you understand?' Jesus had to suffer so he could enter his glory. After traveling through the darkness, Jesus calls out it is done.
The tide will turn in our land when people hear God's call to be real intercessors but true intercessors will be required to feel God's pain, to mourn, to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Music to conclude: Annie Herring, 'I lift my song'
Monday 13 March: Beginning with Moses ...
Rev John Bennett read from Deuteronomy 31.1-8 and led a time of prayer and the singing of 'Abide with me'.
Annie Weatherly-Barton shared a story of the last days of a terminally ill friend who was accused of having no faith, recalling how Peter had little faith when he stepped out of the boat. The Old Testament is a treasure trove; the word salvation first appears Exodus 14.30 - Freedom from oppression.. 'Yasha' is like the freedom of running free on a beach.
Steve Weatherly-Barton returned to Luke 24 25-27 as he introduced episode two: Beginning with Moses - exploring what Jesus may have recalled from the spoken and written Torah, the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses.
Jesus never refers to Abraham and Isaac in the gospels. He may have talked about it on the road to Emmaus because of it reflects the things that came to pass in those recent days. Most fathers would offer their own life rather than their son - sacrificing their whole future. And yet God the Father allowed his Son to be sacrificed.
See also Hebrews 11.17-19, Romans 8.31-32
Our speaker also suggested that Jesus may have explored the Bronze serpent in Numbers 21.4-9; Moses did what God told him to do with the bronze serpent; those who looked up at the serpent would find healing; cf John 3.14-15 & John 12.20-23
Noting how only Jesus can help us; time was spent reflecting on verses of 'The Royal banners forward go' by the Bishop of Poitiers. The testimony of Spurgeon's conversion during a snowstorm, sheltering in a Methodist Chapel and responded to Isaiah 45.22 - which in turn brought out the revelation from his mother that something wonderful had happened to him that morning.
Steve drew on the words 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob' from the Burning Bush Exodus 3.1-21 and concluded with Matthew 22.31-32.
There was time to reflect on the song 'Where you there when they crucified my Lord' by the Annie Moses band
Monday 6 March: Introduction - why look at the Old Testament?
Introduced by Rev Frances Ballantyne with the hymn 'Because he lives' and Psalm 23, Steve Weatherly-Barton suggested we 'eavesdrop on the conversation' on the road to Emmaus with Jesus himself explaining all that was said in the scriptures concerning himself. So why start with the Old Testament?
1 Because the Bible is recognised around the world as part of the God-inspired authority for Christian living
2 Because it was Jesus' Bible, recalled from memory - even from childhood (Luke 2 44-49 and 4 18f)
3 Because it tells the story of a people learning about God (Amos 5 23f, Micah 6 8)
4 Because it is fulfilled in Jesus; the Old Testament not primarily a Book of Predictions or random prophecies
5 Because the Lord hasn't just offered us a label or a taste of the new wine, but rather offers to fill our glasses - our life - to the brim
The Steeles song 'On the road to Emmaus' was played; over refreshments, everyone was invited to share advice and problems about reading the Bible.