Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 11 April 2021

You’ve probably read or seen news about a possible side effect of Astra Zeneca’s COVID vaccine. As is often the case, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks. For example, like many of you, I take low dose aspirin daily. It can cause stomach bleeding, and without an offsetting Nexium each day, it would cause ulcers. Its proven efficacy in helping to prevent stroke and arteriosclerosis outweighs those risks. But aspirin is still probably implicated in my episodes of indigestion, or as it is sometimes called, “heartburn”.

Funny word. It sort-of crops up in scripture, but not in the same context, in Luke’s (ch24) account of the encounter between a couple of disciples and the risen Jesus on the Emmaus Road. “Did not our hearts burn within us … ?” And all good Methodists will be familiar with John Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Chapel as he listened to the preacher expounding Luther’s introduction to Romans:  “My heart was strangely warmed”.

As to the first, what always strikes me about the passage isn’t the usual breaking of bread or explaining the scriptures, but the simple line (v32) “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road … ?” And as to the second, it’s not the assurance of salvation through faith, but the encouragement that even if you don’t feel that assurance (or Wesley’s “joy”), you’re not alone in that doubt, but your salvation is just as assured.

“About a quarter before nine, while he 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, 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.

"I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, 'This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?' Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.”

Your road might be one of doubt, of discouragement, of mourning, of who except you and God knows what, but allow your heart to be warmed anyway because the risen Christ is on that same road with you.


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