An Easter Heart Burn

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Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from: John 20:1-9 The Resurrection: Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” 3 Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. 4 The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. 8 Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and believed – 9 for until then they hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said he would rise from the dead.

Easter is all about a four letter word — and Christians are full of it. Or at least we’re supposed to be full of it. The four letter word is LIFE. New life. Whole life. Abundant Life. Redeemed life. Resurrected life. The purpose of life is not death, Easter says. The purpose of life is life . . . a life that triumphs over death forever.

Celebrating Easter is the best thing that the church can do because it is a celebration of all that is good, all that is true, and all that is beautiful. In fact, I would make the case this morning that celebrating Easter is the greatest public service the church can perform for the world. Why? Because it is the reality of Easter that makes everything else we would do possible. Remember Jesus’ final words on the cross? “It is finished.”

When the soldiers taking Jesus’ body down from the cross stabbed him with a spear point, “blood and water came out” (John 19:34). That rush of fluids revealed what was the actual final cause of death for Jesus — a burst aorta. Jesus died of a broken heart. The breaking of Jesus’ heart was what “finished” Jesus’ sacrifice. On Easter morning the great surprise is that sacrifice was not the end of Jesus’ mission. Out of Jesus’ broken heart there emerged a new heart, a resurrected heart, an unbreakable, unstoppable heart. Out of the Last Adam’s split side a new Eve was conceived, the bride of Christ, the church, whose life revolves around the water of baptism and the blood of communion. On Easter Sunday “It is finished” becomes “Now it begins.”

The “beloved disciple” looked in at the abandoned grave clothes and “believed” that Jesus had risen. At that instant his Easter heart started beating.

Mary Magdalene heard her name called with her beloved Teacher’s own voice, and she saw and believed that the risen Lord stood before her. It was at that moment Mary’s Easter heart started beating.

When Jesus walked and talked along the Emmaus road with two of his disciples Jesus was practicing heart massage. His disciples later recalled “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road” (Luke 24:32). But only after Jesus blessed and broke the bread did those disciples suddenly see and believe. It was the final jolt that jump-started their Easter hearts.

So, the title of today’s message is: An Easter Heart Burn. Is your church full this morning with people whose heart are full of Easter? Do you have an Easter heart? Here are 5 ways you can tell.

1) An Easter heart is full of a new mission, of new possibilities. An Easter church that is filled with Easter hearts continues to offer signs of new life to the world.

2) An Easter heart church throws off the old grave clothes. You might say that we shred our shrouds. Instead of wrapping ourselves in costly, starchy grave clothes, we have a custom of wearing our finest clothing on Easter Sunday. The church I attend does the opposite. The pastor wears blue jeans. You see, an Easter heart church is a blue jeans church.

3) An Easter heart church is full of rock-rollers. Notice I didn’t say rock-and-rollers . . . I did say Rock-Rollers. The first sign of the resurrection, as noted by a distraught Mary Magdalene, was that the rock had been rolled away form the tomb’s entrance. Everybody, just like Jesus’ resurrected body, needs to be offered a way out. Christian rock-rollers offer ways out to all sorts of people, trapped in all kinds of tombs.

4) An Easter heart church is always in a state of arrhythmia, always experiencing adrenaline surges, always skipping beats, and always a racing pulse. An Easter heart is an arrhythmic heart because in an Easter heart church the unexpected is always happing. Resurrection happens. Miracles happen. Truth happens. Goodness happens. Beauty happens. Jesus happens.

5) An Easter heart church is filled with laughter. The resurrection is a testimony to the adage, “he who laughs last laughs best.” The Sanhedrin thought they had the last laugh. The Roman authorities thought they had the last laugh. The cruel crowds and sadistic soldiers thought they had the last laugh. But the resurrection proved God has the last laugh. Those who thought they had triumphed over Jesus were soundly trumped by his triumph over death itself.

6) Finally, and this is the most important “sign” of an Easter heart church of them all: an Easter heart will be a broken heart.

Brothers and sisters, if Easter is not the symbol of a heart that will never break, it is the symbol of this: that out of that broken heart, God will birth a new heart, a whole heart, a beet-red blood rich heart.

I’m dating myself here, but how many of you remember Speedy Alka-Seltzer or the Alka-Seltzer commercials. Now we have all kinds of antacid commercials and products. It seems Americans are consumed with heartburn. As a result we have Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec and Nexium.Now there are so many more choices that I’m lost. But one thing I haven’t forgotten or lost is the kind of Heart Burn that Cleopas and his companion experienced on the Road to Emmaus. It was that Easter Heart Burn that came, not from an encounter with a fiery hot bowl of Tex Mex chili but with an encounter with the Risen Christ. Let’s look at Luke’s description of that event:

Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. [32] 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?”

Lets now shift our thoughts to Experiencing Hearts Burn

A. This Easter Heart Burn isn’t really something for which you can prepare.

B. I read in “The Salt of the Earth” about a Brazilian priest tells how he was studying and meditating on this very passage of Scripture dealing with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. It seemed incredible to him that after living with Jesus for three years these two men failed to recognize Him as He walked down the road and talked with them.

C. But you don’t need to have go on a Walk to Emmaus to experience this Easter Heart Burn. Emmaus isn’t the key. It’s just one of the side paths on this journey of faith we’re all on.

D. The Risen Christ meets us wherever we are on our faith journey. In an old magazine titled, “Preaching Magazine”there is a story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted.

Time for my little Easter laughter story: In Winnie the Pooh, Pooh and Piglet take an evening walk. For a long time they walk in silence. Silence like only best friends can share. Finally Piglet breaks the silence and asks, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” answers Pooh and then asks. “And what do you say, Piglet?” Piglet says, “I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today?”

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