A sermon about Christ as a priority

HEART BURN

LUKE 24: 13-35

MAY 4, 2014

I. ZEAL

A. There was a small fire in the church and the firemen were able to contain it quickly.  The pastor noticed one of the firemen who was an inactive member of the church. The pastor said, “I haven’t seen you in church for a long time.” The fireman said, “It’s been a long time since there has been any fire in this church.”

B. There was no fire in these two sorry followers of Jesus walking to Emmaus. They believed that they had bet their lives on the wrong man as savior. And so they were making their way slowly back home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It was only seven miles. But it was one of the longest journeys any follower of Jesus had ever made.

C. Do you know the longest distance in Christianity? It is the 12 inches from your head to your heart. Sometimes we recite our beliefs in a spiritual monotone that indicates that it doesn’t really matter to us. Knowing about Jesus does not a disciple make.  It’s only when that knowledge gets personal enough to make that journey down into your heart; into the center of who you are; into that place that makes your heart burn with zeal.

D. Now zeal can be a dangerous Witness the zeal of those who believe that killing honors God. Or witness the ones who hate zealously in the name of God. Zeal without Biblically grounded guidance is dangerous. But faith without zeal is just a head game.

E. The two men on the road to Emmaus had cashed in their chips. They had seen what had happened to Jesus. The faith that they had and the zeal that went with it were gone. They had as S Eliot wrote, “Learned to avoid excessive expectations.” And even when Jesus himself comes and starts to walk with them, they are so blinded by their minds concept of death that they don’t recognize him at all. They tell him the bad news about crucifixion and lost hopes. The road to their hearts was closed. And that can happen to us as well. Unanswered prayers; unfulfilled expectations; the frustrations of human limitations can all wipe out our zeal to the point where we can’t recognize Jesus even when he is walking right beside us.

II. RISK HOSPITALITY

A. I must tell you that something has to happen here. There needs to be a revival of spirit in our church. We need to catch fire. We need to have burning hearts for what God is calling us to do. We need to get beyond our heads. We need to move beyond church as a lower priority than just about everything else.

B. But how? How does that happen? Three words emerge as a recipe for revival. They are WORD and SACRAMENT and HOSPITALITY. Minister of word and sacrament is what they used to call us ordained types. I like that title much more than Teaching Elder.  So it starts with the Word. Jesus spends most of the journey (and the story is set in the context of a journey Hint Hint!)  Jesus spends most of the journey teaching them scripture truth.  Study of the Word is not just an intellectual endeavor. It is the way the heart is prepared for Jesus. Parents, take note. Making sure your children know the stories and ultimately the truths in those Biblical stories is a sacred expectation and an eternal priority

.C. Then the two travelers get to the house and Jesus offers to leave them alone. Jesus is never rude. He never insists on coming in. He waits to be invited. And they invite him in for supper. They practice hospitality before they know that it is Jesus

.D. Our call to practice hospitality is a sacred responsibility even if there is risk involved. What if you invited someone to come to this supper? They might turn you down. They might think you are a religious nut.  Or they might come and not like it.  But hospitality is a ministry that is expected from ALL of us. Cleopas is mentioned by   But the other traveler is not. I think there is another chance to insert your name here. Next time, YOU invite that stranger or friend or co-worker or family member to come in and join you in this sacred meal. The most important thing this church can do to grow is to practice hospitality to the stranger that develops burning hearts.

III. WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES EASTER MAKE?

A. Many of those who were here on Easter have started back on the road to Emmaus. Sometimes Easter takes more than three days. Sometimes the zeal doesn’t follow for some time; even after belief.  We might ask, “What difference does Easter make if we go right back into lives dominated by death?”

B. There are so many weary travelers out there who had hoped that Jesus or Easter would have changed their lives into something filled with joy and meaning. But now they are on the way back to plain old existence instead of living with a purpose. Maybe you are one of them.

C. Jesus won’t force his way in. But even if you have blocked him with intellectual arguments or self-driven priorities; even if you have failed to invite him in, he is still there waiting for you to invite him back. And when you do, he always says yes.

D. In any event, there are three stages. There is the planning stage, the actual doing of the thing, and the remembering of the event when it is past. In the planning stage it is hard to really grasp the excitement of the event because at this point it is just an idea. While the event is taking place you are busy and it is hard to really reflect on its meaning. It is in the remembering stage that you really come to grips with the significance of what has happened.  Couples get weary planning a wedding. Then the big day comes and goes so fast and they are so nervous about every detail that they almost miss the experience. It is later when they are looking at the photos and remembering the day that they are really able to rejoice in it That is a little like what happened to the Emmaus travelers. They don’t really grasp what has happened and feel that burning in their hearts until it is over. But what opens their eyes to it?

IV. BREAK THE BREAD

A. I mean how could they not recognize him? How can we not recognize him? And more importantly what does it take for us to recognize the truth of the written word and the living Word?

B. Jesus goes into the house. Luke tells us that he took the bread, he blessed and broke it and gave it to them. AND THEIR EYES WERE OPENED AND THEY RECOGNIZED HIM.

C. He broke the bread. The sacrament begins with an act of hospitality. Only now it is Jesus who invites all of us to come and be fed. And when he breaks the bread, they remember; and all the scriptural lessons make sense and they say, “Did not our hearts burn with us?”

D. Then, just like that, Jesus is gone. And now they want nothing, NOTHING more than to be with other believers to share the good news that he IS alive and that Easter makes ALL the difference. Luke tells us that they stood still in the presence of Jesus. They were stopped in their tracks by the living good news

.E. What do we do when our hope is gone? Break the bread. What do we do when our faith is nothing more than a stale, passionless idea? Break the bread. What do we do when the truths of the Bible are incomprehensible? What do we do when we feel frustrated that Jesus doesn’t seem real or present in our lives? Break the bread. Break the bread and be renewed and revived and enlivened and aware and prepared and committed

.E. Some amazing things are about to happen in this church. I may not be there to experience it with you. But Jesus is walking along side each of us and teaching us and breaking the bread for us and causing some serious Maybe you better get the fire department on speed dial.