When I was interviewing to be the Senior Minister at FCC Fulton, one of the questions I was asked was along the lines of “What is a scripture that is particularly meaningful either in your life or in your ministry?” I sort of cheated in that I gave two scriptures.
The first is from Romans: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom. 5:6) This one is recent in my lexicon of meaningful scriptures, but I think it speaks to the very real scandal of the Gospel. God forgives sinners.
God does not wait until we are perfect. God does not wait until we have it all together. God does not wait until we have proven our worth. God does not wait for us to have a robust prayer life, a calendar full of volunteer hours, our feet sore from marching for the right causes, or a wooden pew worn down in the shape of our behind.
No, Christ died for the UNgodly, for us, while we were still weak. While we were mired in anxiety. While we were stuck in selfish ways. While we could not get out of our own way. While we still refused to acknowledge the ways we participate in Sin.
That’s the right time. That’s the time God chose to save us. That’s the time God chose to rescue us. That’s the time God chose to come near us.
I think that’s a reminder we always need to hear.
The second scripture I spoke about was one of Jesus’ resurrection appearances when he visited the Cleopas and an unnamed disciple on their way to Emmaus. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 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?’ (Luke 24:30-32)
I love this Scripture and have for a long time. I think as a Disciple, there is something about the Jesus’ presence becoming real when we break bread together, whether it be at the Communion Table or around the dinner table. Christ is present in the conversation. Christ is present in the laughter. Christ is present in the tears. Christ is present.
And this experience of Christ does not leave us changed; we have an emotional response. Luke describes it as a “burning heart;” Maybe you’ve heard it as one who has their heart on fire. When we experience Jesus’ presence, when his grace is made real, it does not leave us flat-footed but causes something to well up inside of us that cannot be contained.
I love these scriptures because I want to help others experience the presence of Christ that leads to their hearts burning. I want them to know Christ is for them, especially when it seems like no one is (or should be).
And I want you to know, trust, and believe it too.