Hearts Burning Within Us


Lots of people were baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church over the Easter weekend! I don’t know how many. Not sure if Kirk Hadaway has a way of finding that statistic out for us or not! But, suffice it to say, it would be in the thousands. They, or their parents and godparents, were asked to make a number of promises before receiving those sacraments of initiation. And one of them is, “Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?” The expected answer is, “I will, with God’s help.”

Christians have been making that promise for centuries now. And we’ve been acting out that promise for even longer than that. The vow itself is taken from Luke’s account of the early Church when he writes, in the book of Acts, that “those who welcomed (Peter’s) message were baptized and that day about 3,000 persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

But those practices even go back farther than that. According to Luke’s Gospel, one of the resurrection appearances involved just those same practices. Two disciples, walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, joined by a stranger, sharing with him their grief and confusion on the death of their prophet and the reports of his resurrection. Conversation with the stranger about Moses and the old prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. And a shared meal…recognition…and burning hearts, as he is made known to them in the breaking of the bread!

And I wonder how many times those same two disciples had experienced those practices with the historical Jesus before his resurrection. Journeys together along the road, conversation with him and the other disciples about the scriptures, a shared meal – and hearts that burned with love and commitment for this rabbi, this prophet, this one they increasingly believed was their messiah!

You and I get to have that same experience at every Eucharist. Apostolic teaching from the Word of God, read and preached; fellowship with one another liturgically acted out in the passing of the Peace; the broken Bread and the poured-out Cup…and, of course, the prayers. Not just the prayers of the people – although they allow us to bring our concerns and thanksgivings before the Lord and the community.

But the prayers of preparation, the songs of praise, the Great Eucharistic Prayers which rehearse the story of our salvation, re-member his words at the Last Supper, invoke God’s Holy Spirit upon the elements and upon ourselves!

We are one with those disciples who slept alongside Jesus on the road, with those two on the road to Emmaus, with those 3,000 who were baptized after Peter’s sermon. And with those thousands baptized just a few days ago! We are one with all those people in the Eucharist!

Are not our hearts burning within us as we gather to share this meal?


I hope so. Because “The Lord has risen indeed…and he has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:32, 34)



8 Responses to “Hearts Burning Within Us”

  1. Ann Says:

    Emmaus is one of my favorites –I like to think they were a couple who lived in Emmaus serving the Roman garrison there. Inviting the stranger to their home – they experience the risen Christ. How often Christ events happen in this way. Another view from the artist Philippine Garibay.

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