A Case of Heartburn
Words for 3rd Sunday of Easter – 26 April 2020 – Parish of Felixstowe
A Cyber Sermon from the Vicarage
Text: 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?’ (Luke 24v32)
God give you peace my sisters and brothers.
Whilst I was still at Primary School, and just tall enough to reach on tiptoe to see what mysteries the medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink held, I was always entranced by the tin of Andrews Liver Salt that sat there, unmoved, gently rusting away.
‘Why’, my younger self would ask, ‘would you make salt from liver?’ Perhaps that was why liver was so unpalatable when served up braised for Tea, all the salt had been removed from it and put into tins! I also used to wonder why I needed my own tin (there being no other ‘Andrews’ in our household) and, if it was mine why was it being stored well out of my reach? An older self also wondered why he wasn’t more wealthy seeing as he, of course, was the owner of a company called ‘Andrews’.
Now that I am older, and allegedly wiser, I have discovered that Liver Salts (of whatever brand) have nothing to do with the liver, are supposed to help tummy ache and heartburn, and are pretty rubbish at either task!
A life of poor choices in diet and drink has meant that I have graduated from the tin of Andrews, past Milk of Magnesia, through Gaviscon liquid and tablets (Standard and Double-Action!) to the relief of queasiness found in a daily capsule of Omeprazole. Heartburn is never nice.
But there is a kind of heartburn that we should cultivate. Cleopas and his friend, walking away from all the trouble that had happened in Jerusalem had this heartburn. A heartburn that caused them to believe the unbelievable, to hope for a brighter future, and to get up late in the day and hurry to tell others the story of this dis-ease with which they were more than happy to be afflicted.
Does being part of the church family give all of us a case of heartburn?
Perhaps I had better rephrase that… 😉
When we are able to be in church
When we are praying, either together or by ourselves
When we read and study the Scriptures
When we are busy about the Parish serving the people of God
Do our hearts always burn within us?
Sadly, my experience (and sometimes it’s my own fault), is that ‘No, not always’ is the answer to that question. I would even venture to say that some of the Ecclesiastical activities with which I am involved induces moments of physical heartburn and I need to reach for the tin of Andrews Liver Salt!
How do we ensure that we ‘suffer’ from the correct sort of heartburn?
I get cases of physical heartburn when I over indulge. Too much rich food and drink. Eating a heavy meal followed by exercise. Snacking late at night instead of helping my body get ready to rest. I know this is why I grab my chest and tummy every so often but I don’t always remember to do what is best.
How do we acquire a case of spiritual heartburn? What do we need to remember to do so that we are ‘afflicted’ with Emmaus Road Hearts. Instead of, as with the physical illness, giving up on things, we need to dive in to the heavenly smörgåsbord that is our faith.
There were three things that made the hearts of Cleopas and his friend burn within them;
They spent time in the presence of Jesus.
They studied the Scriptures in the presence of Jesus.
They broke bread in the presence of Jesus.
Even during this time of Isolation and Social Distancing these three things can still happen;
We do not need to hear the Bible read aloud in Church to read and study the Bible.
We do not need the priest to say the words of communion to ask God to bless every meal we eat.
We have never believed that Jesus is only present inside the Church building.
After all the first condition of having a case of Spiritual Heartburn is to remember that Jesus wants to be in our hearts and not only in our buildings. He is our Personal Saviour and not the family patriarch with whom we have a formal visit one day a week.
Yes, it is easier to have a case of Spiritual Heartburn in the presence of other members of the faith – after all it is a contagious condition – but just because we cannot be with them it does not mean our God is no longer Emmanuel, God with us.
I hope that we will not be absent from each other for many more Sundays but until we are able to be together again let’s plan to be together in and with God’s Holy Spirit each day by doing three things.
Consciously and deliberately spending a set amount of time in God’s presence in prayer each day.
Setting aside time to read and reflect on a portion of the Scriptures each day.
Remembering to say ‘thank you’ for all the gifts we do have, especially food and shelter, (rather than complaining about that which is lacking for a season).
‘Over Eat’ in this way and when we finally return to our usual routines we, like Cleopas and his friend, will be eager to pronounce ‘The Lord has risen indeed!’
[This blog ‘A Case of Heartburn’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]
The Walk to Emmaus
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19 He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 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. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 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?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.