Personally I don’t really mind that much if you tell me the end of a movie before I’ve seen it. But this isn’t a characteristic shared by many, most people I know hate to watch a movie, or read a book, if they already know the end. To not even talk about watching a rugby match if you couldn’t see it live, and have already heard the outcome. And even to me this is understandable. I mean, there is little tension if you know that you’re team are going to win, that the heroin are going to marry the hero, or that the underdog will triumph in the end.

Similarly, we seem to have lost the tension between hopelessness and hope in Easter, because we already know the outcome. We already know that the “hero” is going to live again. Actually, we have told ourselves over the centuries, the hopeless part of Easter was not hopeless at all. If it was all part of a big divine cosmic plan, then why should we see hopelessness when we read about Jesus being crucified?

For the past year of two I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the narratives about the empty grave and the living Jesus on resurrection Sunday. The past few months Luke 24 has been pulling me in, all the more making me part of the Jesus story. The more I’m reading it, the more I realize that we have an absolutely amazing story here. In writing this narrative Luke really outdid himself, I think. The way he use tension and surprise, the way the narrative develops, the way in which it climaxes (think Eucharist), the whole story is just constructed in an amazing way.

Also this narrative is making me part of an experience which is not satisfied with simply saying: “Oh, we know we celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion, but don’t worry, in two days we’ll celebrate the resurrection and then all will be better again. It tells of Cleopas and his friend (wife?) who really isn’t expecting anything good to come out of the resurrection. In Luke’s gospel the followers of Jesus didn’t expect a resurrection. For them, Jesus was simply dead.

Which make the hope climax all the more exciting when we get there. When Jesus take the bread, pray, and hand out the bread, and they realize that there is life after death we find the real hopelessness turning into hope. Yes, and maybe we’ve been programmed to know what the end of Easter will be in such a way, that we forget that part of Easter is opening up new possibilities. Where there is hopelessness, we find the possibility of hope. Where there is death, the message of Easter is that life is possible. The resurrection is the story of new possibilities.

Many of us have broken the bread on Thursday evening in remembrance of the night Jesus introduced the Eucharist. Maybe we should now break the bread in remembrance that hope is to be found in the words: “oντως ηγερθη ο κυριος”, “indeed, the Lord has risen”.

A lot can be said concerning Christians gathering on Sunday mornings (and sometimes evenings) for some form of a primary worship event. In spite of critique concerning what happens, about the so called hypocrisy of those who attend, or the comercialization of the service, fact is that still thousands attend. What is happening in this hour is for most people still their primary understanding of “church”. So on a positive note: think potensial. What is the potensial if this hour could really be done in a way that give people an idea of the kingdom of God.

This was my theme for Sunday’s service. Actually a difficult theme, concidering that I didn’t really consider Sunday mornings to be a missional activity, not in the sense of a “seeker” type of setting. Rather, I considered what happened the rest of the week, wherever members of our community went, to be the missional part of a congregation. Reading Patrick Keifert’s Welcoming the Stranger helped form my thinking on this, attempting to point the way towards something that is both worship and missional.

Sermon came from Luke 24, Jesus’ journey from with two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Starting out on the journey, Jesus is called a “stranger” because he pretends not to know about the crisifixion that took place in Jerusalem 3 days before. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the disciples must be the strangers, since Jesus was the one who actually knew what happened, and they didn’t understand. So Jesus start explaining everything to them. I’ve many a time wondered why Jesus didn’t just pop up and say “hallo! this is me!”, rather, a softer approach is followed, and little by little they are introduced to the ideas that would change the world for ever. And then, with the breaking of the bread, they suddenly realize who is it that was journeying with them…

I think our worship gatherings is a lot like this. It is also a journey, and everyone who join on a given occasion take part in this journey. I don’t think the preacher is neccesarily the Jesus figure, rather that on this journey we become Jesus figures for each other, and in the relationship between us, Jesus appear to journey with us. The challenge of our times of worship is to be able to do what Jesus did. To journey with people, slowly introducing them to what we are doing, in such a way that they can understand this. The dream is that we can see people connect to God, to their community, and to an alternative community in our worship times.

And the end of the story of Emmaus is people connecting with an alternative community, a community which radically changed the world, by radically doing what Jesus would have. Just a thoughtin spite of all the criticism against the institutional church, recently I’ve started thinking: “What would happen if 1000 preachers in 1000 Dutch Reformed congregations of South Africa start to preach the Kingdom of God on Sundays?”. Think potensial!