It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
–C. S. Lewis
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (From the Lectionary)
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 NIV)
PRAYER FOCUS: The Extreme Question
“What do I do with this?”
Shelda was the first to speak. Tears were streaming down her face—not sad tears, but the grateful tears of one who has begun to comprehend the awesome measure of grace she had received through the Cross. Her hands were outstretched, palms up, as though she held the precious thing itself.
My wife and I had been teaching a Sunday School class of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, mostly the teenage children of suburban working people. Shelda was just enough different from the other kids that she stood out. Her wardrobe style could have been described as semi-goth, and we understood that was the crowd she most often hung out with at middle school. Sometimes she participated in our class, sometimes she held back. Sometimes she wasn’t there at all. But there she sat, asking the question that confronts and compels every Christian.
This day’s lesson was part of the Alpha for Youth Course, centered on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We had read from the four Gospels. We had discussed the accounts of ancient historians Josephus (Jewish), Tacitus (Roman), and Lucian (Greek). Then we followed with a (very short) clip of the crucifixion scene from The Passion of The Christ.
After we paused the video, these normally chatty young people were speechless. Some, like Shelda, were in tears. The usually outspoken ones were silent.
Shelda’s question pierced that silence like thunder. Despite the tears, her eyes shone bright.
Jesus had done that for her because He loved her. She got it.
While all the other kids were pondering what they had just seen, wondering what to say, Shelda had already jumped ahead to the next step—what do we do with this gift, this grace? She gestured at the blank TV screen that had just showed the video. “I mean, how can you know this and ever be the same again? You just can’t go back to living like you used to…”
She paused, then added, “I just want to tell someone.”
[Teachers Note: More. Powerful. Than. The. Video. (Testimony is like that, Christian.)]
Shelda’s heart was burning. And she did tell someone. She started bringing friends. Not long afterwards, she brought her parents to church for the first time.
This week’s Lectionary Gospel transports us back to the road to Emmaus, where two of the disciples were confronted by a man they knew but didn’t recognize. This stranger walked with them and asked them about themselves. He spoke to them about the Scriptures and made sure they understood them. Then, at the breaking of bread, their eyes were opened and they realized it was their beloved Lord and Master. And they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning?”
Matthew’s Gospel records what we now call The Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19). The Gospel of Mark relates the Lord’s words a little differently, but the message is identical: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
It is one thing to have faith in Jesus; it is quite another thing to have the faith of Jesus. If we are to have the faith to do this, to go into all the world, shouldn’t we first make sure our hearts are burning within us? Let us pray for that fire!
This week let us also pray that God will open the eyes of our faith, so that we may behold Him in all his redeeming work.
It’s Monday Morning. Now that the Easter hymns have been sung, the Lenten fasts have been completed, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection is over, what will you do with this?