“Were Not Our Hearts Burning within Us” was the title of the Summer Theological Conference at PLU this year. The then was a development of the story of Jesus walking with Cleopas and another disciple as they walked away from Jerusalem on Easter afternoon. Luke 24 is the chapter which relates the Easter stories, and in this one, Jesus meets the dejected disciples on the road, opening their own scriptures to their understanding of what the role of the Messiah will be. As they sit down to dinner with Jesus, and he blesses the bread before eating, they suddenly recognize that they have been walking with the Messiah all along.
We explored how worship and study and service are formative of the faith of individuals in church communities and of the communities themselves. We looked at Biblical interpretation as a path to new understanding of God and of ourselves as God’s people. We thought about how adults learn and how sometimes we must unlearn something to absorb something new in our growth of understanding and of faith.
And we worshipped. Opening Eucharist with organ and sermon and communion. Compline before going away at the end of the day, and Morning Prayer at the beginning of each day. Psalm 95 is the sung psalm at Morning Prayer, and our soloist sang the verses of the psalm and we sang the refrain (antiphon), “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” I can still hear it in my mind and heart. It captures for me the whole experience of learning, fellowship, and, yes, the formation of new understanding that we walk with Jesus in our continuing unfolding of faith as it informs the life we live. Now to lift up the experience in my own community so that the walk with Jesus becomes not only mine, but ours, as we journey together into the future God has in store for us.