Open our Eyes of Faith

Oh God, whose blessed son made h­­­imself known to his disciples through the breaking of bread, open our eyes of faith.

In our first reading this morning in Acts, Peter preaches his first sermon. Many in the crowd respond: “What are we supposed to do Peter? Peter says: “Here’s what you need to do. You need to be repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Where have you heard this message before? This is the message of John the Baptist, and after John is killed by Herod, it then becomes Jesus’ message. The next part of the sermon is distinctly the message of Jesus. Remember when John says, I baptize with water for the repentance of sins, but He that comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Peter is using the same message of Jesus with these words: “And, then you shall receive the Holy Spirit”. This is for you and your children—the invitation is open to everyone”.

Those that welcomed his message were baptized, and about 3,000 people were added to the church. Baptism is a sign. It’s also a part of our Christian heritage, whether we are baptized as children or as adults.

We are baptized into Christ’s death, and we are raised into the shared resurrected life of Jesus Christ. In our reading in 1 Peter, the Scripture says “Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God”. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one anotherdeeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Notice that word purify: “Purifying your souls by being obedient to the truth”. What’s another word for purification? Transformation! Transformation starts with a change in the heart, a change from the inside out, an inner change of our spiritual person. Change has become kind of “pop” word. When I use the word change here, I’m not using it in a political or socialization context, but I’m using change in the context of the transforming power of the love of God. It’s a change process that literally transforms our lives.

When Scripture uses the words sanctify, purify, holiness, cleansing, washing and transformation, the communication is about an inner change that brings about an outward manifestation of that change. What is the evidence of this life change? Show me the fruit! You say you’ve been changed, transformed, and are in the process of becoming a different person. Okay, so show me the fruit. There should be some evidence. Is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? Show me the evidence. That’s what I’m talking about when I use the word change. So we are changed by the overpowering love of God, and through this transforming purifying of the soul that comes as we respond in obedience to the truth. It will result in a genuine mutual love, a deep love from the heart for one another.

There are times that doing the work of “church stuff” can feel like just “going through the motions kind of work”, and you might say “where is the love in that Father Dave?” And, I would have to say: “I don’t know.” Sometimes I plow through my work, change liturgies, plan meetings, write sermons and articles, and it feels like I’m just going through the motions too, but I hope I am doing it for all the right reasons, but I’m sure sometimes it’s just a job, something I have to grind out. In the process of serving other people, sometimes we just have to go through the motions, and the motions are important. But, at unexpected times and unexpected ways as we are going through these motions, God breaks in. We have all had what some people call “Aha Moments”; moments when God breaks into our awareness; moments referred to in Celtic spirituality as “a thin place”; that place where your space and God’s space meet and for a short time or extended time you know you have entered into God’s space and God has entered into yours.

In our Gospel passage today, Luke tells us a story about the disciples who were on their way to a small village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking about all the things that had been happening lately, and while they were talking a traveler came and began to walk with them. And he says to them “What are you discussing?” And they reply; “Are you the only one that does not know the things that are going on?” And the traveler says: “What things?” So they tell the traveler the story.

Then the traveler begins to talk to them about this messiah, explaining to them from the Old Testament how all these things are to come to pass. And, when they come to the village they invite him to their lodgings for the evening.

When he sits down to eat with them, he takes bread and breaks it and gives it to them, and their eyes are opened and they recognize Him.” And then he vanishes from their sight.

Then they say to each other after Jesus leaves them: “Did you notice the fire that was burning in our hearts as he was talking to us as we walked down the road, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?” The Holy Spirit is confirming to them, the spoken Word of God. Sometimes God comes to us at unexpected times and opens the eyes of our hearts. In the midst of our daily routine, our daily schedule and routines, at times God breaks in with an “Aha moment”, and says: “Here I am. I have not forgotten about you. I’m with you all the time, but I want to remind you of that from time to time.” And, we like the disciples traveling on the Emmaus road will respond as they did: “Wasn’t our hearts burning within when he was with us?”

Oh God, whose blessed son made himself known to his disciples through the breaking of bread, open our eyes of faith.