“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32
This has always been one of my favorite passages of scripture, titled in my Bible, “On the Road to Emmaus.” Two followers of Jesus meet him on the way to a village called Emmaus, shortly after the crucifixion. They do not recognize him and tell him how their teacher was crucified, and that some of the women in their company claimed that He had risen. Jesus proceeds to lead them in the greatest Bible study of all time:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27
Finally he reveals himself to them at the evening meal, when he blesses and breaks the bread and gives it to them. Wouldn’t you love to have an experience like that? Well, guess what, you can. We have the very words of Christ, recorded for us in the New Testament gospels; we have the opportunity to meet with Him in the celebration of communion. You can meet Him on the road of your own journey. Ask Him to open your eyes; do you feel your heart burning?
I’ve always belonged to a liturgical church and I can’t imagine my spiritual life without it. The liturgy isn’t just a ritual; it doesn’t lose meaning because it’s familiar. The liturgy is a powerful tool for teaching.
In the liturgy, I learn to know Christ better. I meet Jesus through the words of Scripture, the confession and absolution, the sacrament and the sermon. It’s personal. Jesus speaks to me through these human and physical means.
Liturgy teaches me that my faith isn’t just about me and God. It’s about me, God, and my sisters and brothers in Christ. I’m joined with my fellow members in a mystical way that doesn’t happen anywhere else. We become one body as we sing, recite the creeds, and pray. I see Christ on the faces of others and I know that they see Him in me.
Through the liturgy, I learn to feel comfortable in the larger church. If I visit another Lutheran congregation while traveling, I find myself at home in the faith. The service may be more contemporary, the logistics of communion different, but the elements of the liturgy themselves provide a reassuring familiarity. I belong without knowing a single person’s name. This comfort runs through time as well as place. The earliest Christian services from the 4th and 5th century are strikingly similar to the Lutheran liturgy today. I am connected to my forbears in the faith through our shared worship experience.
My participation in the weekly liturgy makes the unseen real to me. When we say in our service that we worship along with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” we’re serious. It is a “foretaste of the feast to come.” My actions outside the sanctuary take on a heavenly significance and temporal concerns pale.
The liturgy teaches not only through words, but through shared experience. It can be heard on the lips of preschoolers and whispers of the aged and dying.
The liturgy is the song of the church. Live with it. Learn from it. Love it.
This isn’t on topic, but I came across it and really liked it. God should be with us all day long. We need him every hour!