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Pastoral Letter, May 9, 2023

May 9, 2023 To the Saints in San Carlos The Rev. Lataunya Bynum, Regional Minister of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, paid us a visit last Sunday. She read the scriptures for us and delivered an inspiring benediction. She is one of those people who add a lot to a gathering just by being there. We are honored by her visit and hope she comes again. Mother's Day impends in just a few days, Sunday 14th. Members of our Samoan congregation will lead us in spirited worship with special music, dance and scripture. Come and bring a friend. Likewise Hometown Days - - approaches; the following weekend, May 19-21. Watch the parade with us from the front steps of the church. The parade should arrive there sometime around 10 am. From the town web site: The Hometown Days Parade on Laurel Street is on Saturday morning, May 20, and begins at 9:45 a.m. from Central Middle School. It circles around for all to see and is a highlight of the Hometown Days weekend. Contingents include antique vehicles, floats, fire and sheriff vehicles, marching bands, dance troupes, local organizations and more! Map: Sermon Be Refreshed and Renewed San Carlos Community Church Fifth Sunday of Easter May 7, 2023 “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” At Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York, where I studied from 1974 to 1977, there is a refectory. “Refectory” is an old-fashioned Latin-derived term for a dining hall. It comes from a couple of words put together to make a word that means “a place of refreshment or renewal.” Surely the dining hall of a great institution or the kitchen or dining room of a humble home is a place of refreshment and renewal, as is a church, of whatever size. The refectory at Union Theological Seminary is a fine old place, where King Henry 8th would be at home, with a high Tudor ceiling, tall windows filled with leaded glass, dark wood paneling and a Latin phrase inscribed on the stone work at the entrance: Cognoverunt eum in fractione panis. Which means “They recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

What an appropriate saying at the entrance to the dining hall of a Christian institution. You could say that the church began with the first celebration of Holy Communion after the Resurrection, when Jesus sat at table again among his disciples, and he said the customary blessing over the bread and they recognized him. They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. And they were refreshed and renewed. One could say, as I often do, that every breath we take provides the opportunity to recognize what a miracle it is to be alive. Now if so, why bother with church? In our individualistic society in which self-help is expected and self-help books and web sites abound, why not just commune with God, with Spirit, with the miracle of life on our own? Why not? Because it is so much more difficult. Read the writings of any saint or any great person and you will find that they begin with thanks for all of the people who helped them. We gather of a Sunday morning because we need to. We need to learn together, listen together, sing and pray together, practice together. The first disciples were blessed to have the Savior amongst them. They had it easy. With Jesus amongst them, they must have been just about knocked over by the divine presence. Yet they too had to practice. In today's lesson we read that only when they renewed their regular practice of giving thanks at the breaking of the bread did they recognize the risen Jesus. There is nothing wrong with needing practice, with needing help, with repeating something basic over and over: reading the psalms, singing hymns, celebrating Holy Communion with the same words we have used so many times. I have mentioned Martha Graham before. Hear what she says about practice: “I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living. . . . In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.” We are about to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, almost exactly as we have done it many, many times before. It is a practice, a spiritual practice, an athletic practice, an opportunity to perceive the workings of God in something very simple, in the breaking of bread. Let our eyes be opened. Let us recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread and be refreshed and renewed. Luke 24:13-15; 27-35 Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

- Pastor RichardHyde

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