Exodus 16 + Luke 24:13-35
May 3, 2014 – The Third Sunday of Easter
with burning hearts – a meditation for the Legacy Campaign
Roy W. Howard
Heartburn is a horrible feeling. I don’t need to tell you that; if you’ve had it you know it and don’t want it again. I have a friend who thought he was having a heart attack. The ER doctor said, go home, it’s only heartburn. He left embarrassed and determined to change his diet. Some of you may be experiencing heartburn when you think about our campaign to pay off the sanctuary! I hope not, because this campaign could produce a different kind of heartburn; the kind that sets your hearts on fire like the early disciples of Jesus. I want to talk about that heartburn today. Let’s begin by listening to Shelby’s testimony in this video clip.
That’s a heart on fire. Now listen to this story.
Marilyn McIntire is a writer in California who tells of the time she came to worship and the elders handed out paper and pencils to parishioners. During the sermon, which was a consideration of God’s provisions, even in hard times, the pastor gave an assignment. Write your spiritual autobiography in six words. McIntire accepted the offer. “The radical limitation posed an inviting challenge.” In the silence, six words came that addressed her anxieties about spending and saving, keeping and letting go, prudent stewardship and faithful generosity. She wrote: “Eat the manna. More will come.” She said this is the way her mother lived, not far from the edge of poverty. “She was careful about making dollars stretch to the end of the month but she also knew when to eat the manna. She knew that some things – most things – are to be used, enjoyed, and shared rather than stored.”
McIntire says, besides being a parable about relying on God’s provisions, the story of manna in the wilderness is a story about how grace often comes in odd, unsettling and barely recognizable ways. “Eat the manna. More will come.” Remember this as you make your financial pledge to fund our sanctuary and pay off our debt.
On Easter Sunday, Cleopas and another disciple are walking along a road discussing current events: terrible turmoil in Jerusalem and the death of Jesus. In a rare example of men sharing their lives at a deeper level, they share their dashed hopes while clinging to the slender hope of Easter announced by the women. These two men are asking the deepest questions. What do we do now that everything we set our hopes on is over? What’s next? Is there any meaning to our lives anymore?
Soon it’s three guys on the seven-mile road to Emmaus that must have felt like a hundred miles, at least for two of them. We know it’s Jesus walking with them, but all they know is a stranger with an uncanny capacity to set their hearts on fire. Rather than send the him away when darkness descends, they offer the stranger a place to stay and share a meal. It’s a simple unforced act of hospitality. The stranger at table took the bread, blessed and broke it and gave the bread. In that moment their eyes are open to recognize him. Then he’s gone. And soon they are gone too; not vanished as Jesus did, but filled with joy racing to share the news that Jesus is alive! Alive!
What do you make of this story that moves from isolation to community to testimony? Is there a word from the Lord for a congregation whose renewed sanctuary is the center of our life together? Within this sanctuary we learn the practices of faith. We learn about radical hospitality in worship remembering our baptism, sharing scripture and gathering around the Lord’s Table to share a meal just as Jesus’ early disciples did for him.
Like the story of manna in the wilderness, this story turns on God choosing to show up in a manner we least expect, at a time we most need. It turns on an ordinary act of hospitality – welcoming One whom they knew only as a stranger. Sharing a meal with a stranger becomes the eye-opening, moment of spiritual communion that can only be described as hearts on fire.
That is what we believe can happen everywhere, including in this beautiful sanctuary. It’s why we invite our children to be with us every Sunday so that in this sanctuary they may come to know Jesus and learn the practices of faith.
We want our hearts to be set on fire. Do you agree?
I ask you to give generously to the Legacy Campaign to fund this sanctuary and pay off our debt.
Eat the manna. More will come.
Join me in this prayer:
Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided
for building you a temple for your Holy Name
comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.
All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.
And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Amen. 1 Chronicles 29:16-17