A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Saturday, May 3, 2014

From Polar Vortex to Burning Hearts

Polar Vortex is how we describe this past frigid winter season. Temperatures were often minus zero. Record snow falls were recorded. Schools were closed. Even churches struggled to keep the doors open during those really cold and snowy Sunday mornings. My philosophy is that if the coffee and donut volunteers can make it to church in blizzard-like conditions, then we're open for business.

I am not a fan of winter or cold weather. I do cheer on Mother Nature to provide a thin blanket of snow for Christmas morning, but that's about it. I've never understood why people like to brag how snowy and cold it was back when they were kids. After living through this past nasty winter, I think it's time that we nominate summer for "Best Season of the Year" award.

We have finally arrived at the month of May. You never looked so beautiful than you do now. We missed you, month of May. Where were you when we needed you this past January, February, and March?

This year, the month of May is the month of warmth. I'm not necessarily referring to the temperatures, although 60 degrees does feel a lot better than minus 60. I'm referring to Emmaus Sunday which is tomorrow, the first Sunday of May. Since Easter came late this year, this pushed the reading of the Emmaus story to the month of May.

The Emmaus story has that famous scripture verse where those two people who were very sad all of the sudden realize that it was the risen Christ who had been with them the entire time. When they realized that it was Jesus who had been speaking with them, 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?"

 The chill of Good Friday gave way to burning hearts when Jesus revealed himself to these two disciples who were on their way to the little village of Emmaus.

The warmth we will experience as we reflect on the Emmaus story tomorrow in church will continue to the end of this month when we celebrate the May 24th anniversary of John Wesley's Aldersgate heart-warming experience. In 1738, John Wesley, an Anglican Priest was at a low point in his spiritual journey. He was seeking and praying for an assurance that Christ had forgiven him of his sins.

On May 24, 1738, Wesley's chilled faith was melted during a prayer meeting that was held on Aldersgate Street. In his journal, Wesley writes about that event, "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."

John Wesley and his brother Charles went on to share the good news that we can have an assurance of Christ's love. The coldness that John Wesley had felt in his faith had been melted by this assurance.

This weekend, an Emmaus weekend is being held for some members of my church. It's a three day retreat where they hear talks on the Christian faith, have small group discussion, eat plenty of food, pray, and share in worship. I give thanks to God that their hearts are being strangely warmed.

No Polar Vortex is too great for God.

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