Luke 24:13-35

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?”

In the name of God: Benevolent Creator, Heart Warming Savior, and Great Wisdom. Amen.

When I was a kid, I often heard about the cockles of a person’s heart being warmed. Usually followed by a sigh of satisfaction. What are things that warm the cockles of your heart?

  • Babies that when you hold them, fit “just right” on your shoulder, with the baby fresh scent.
  • Baby anythings… puppies, kittens, polar bears, etc.
  • Long married folks holding hands and sneaking a kiss.
  • Kids bringing up the elements at the offertory.

Anything else?

So, let me share with you a little piece of church history. Who knows what Altersgate Day is? Aldersgate Day is celebrated on May 24 (or the Sunday closest) to commemorate the day in 1738 when John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation.  Wesley reluctantly attended a group meeting that evening on Aldersgate Street in London. His story goes like this…

John Wesley writes this journal entry during a time of defeat, depression, and despair. John Wesley was almost in despair. He did not have the faith to continue to preach. When death stared him in the face, he was fearful and found little comfort in his religion. To Peter Böhler, a Moravian friend, he confessed his growing misery and decision to give up the ministry. Böhler counseled otherwise. “Preach faith till you have it,” he advised.

John stated:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

The cockles of his heart were warmed…. Not by a baby, or whatever… but by the word of GOD!!! At a very low and dark time in his life!

Today, we hear in Luke, about two disciples going to Emmaus, talking about the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. These were pretty dark times for them…. As I have said in previous weeks, they really were a mess at this point.  In their recounting, Jesus gets to a point that he butts in saying, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe.” (Perhaps slightly exasperated!)We know the rest of the story in that they invite him to stay for supper, which was a very kind and thoughtful gesture, towards this “stranger” they met along the way. Then he vanishes and they realized that their “hearts were strangely warmed” or as they said… BURNING.

My question for us all today is this…. “when was the last time the word of God made your heart ‘strangely warmed’?”  When has the message from God, the word of God, the example and actions of God, set your heart and lives on fire?

What would it take for this to be a reality for you? Do you pooh pooh it as simply over-emotionalism. Only religious nuts experience that sort of thing? Or are we open to the work of the Spirit in our lives, no matter where we find ourselves, in order to have times of consolation and the warming of our hearts and souls? As with John Wesley, it can come when we are at our lowest ebb, at points of great resistance, that the grace and mercy of God can light a fire in frigid and frozen conditions and hearts. I pray that we set off some fire alarms!

Let us pray….

Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people. Amen.