Celebrating Sacred Inner Wisdom

Celebrating Sacred Inner Wisdom

The Walk to Emmaus
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah[j] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

LUKE 24:13-35 (NRSVUE)

In our storybook today, we heard about how sometimes, without understanding why, we just know things in our hearts. Now some of what we know in our hearts comes from lessons we’ve learned in the past, experiences we have experienced, or even rules or morals that we’ve been taught.

As it said in our book, “I know in my heart, what’s wrong and what’s right. And I know good from bad, like I know day from night.” And later we heard, “How do I know this? I’m not sure, I just do. My heart makes me feel things. And I’m sure yours does too.”

Well, in our scripture reading today, the disciples felt something in their hearts. Do you remember? Just as they realized that the man they had been walking and talking with was Jesus, scripture says 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?” 

Somehow, they knew in their hearts that something special and sacred was happening right in front of them, but they were so busy walking and talking that they didn’t pay attention to what their hearts were telling them.

I wonder, have you ever gotten a “gut feeling” about something? You know, when you know in your heart, or in the pit of your stomach, that something is true, or there is something you should do, or that something might not be what it seems? Some people call that “intuition” or “insight,” but today I’m going to refer to it as our “sacred inner wisdom.” And we all have it; it’s just that some of us can connect with it more than others.

I once heard it said that prayer is us talking to God, but intuition or sacred inner wisdom is God talking to us! But to truly understand sacred inner wisdom takes listening to your heart and more importantly trusting what you hear. Sacred inner wisdom is not the same as intelligence or intellect. It’s not something that we learn through formal education or study, but it is something that we can practice. Sacred inner wisdom comes from being humble, from putting our own wants and needs aside, and from simply listening. That’s why children often have a strong sense of sacred inner wisdom because they are not afraid to listen and follow their hearts. And they don’t carry with them the world’s judgment that says facts are facts and intuition or sacred inner wisdom can’t be proven. But our faith can’t be proven either, can it? And it’s because of our faith that many of us are here!

Now, most people that have a strong intuition or have experienced sacred inner wisdom though they can’t prove it or explain where it came from, know in their hearts that it is meaningful and true.

For me, my call to the ministry was something just like that. No, God did not call me on the telephone or send me a letter in the mail, but for years, from the time I was a young teenager, I had a burning feeling in my heart. I tried to ignore it for a long time, doing other things, but it would always come back. It was a nagging feeling inside that just wouldn’t go away. And it took years of listening and connecting to that sacred inner wisdom to figure out what to do next.

Finally, at the age of thirty, after attending college, getting married, and having three children, I stopped running from it, and I began my journey in seminary. Immediately the nagging feeling subsided. But in the last twenty-five years, that feeling has returned many times, leading me in other directions or helping me to notice people or things around me.

Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my heart and to pay attention when I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach because usually, it means “stop and pay attention. Let go of your need to control, because you are standing on holy ground.” It’s in moments like that, I’ve learned to look at and listen more closely to the world around me and to just be present in the moment.

Now is our sacred inner wisdom always, right? No. But it often opens our eyes to things around us that we would not have seen otherwise. There are, however, other times when we think we hear something in our hearts, but it is really just our own opinions, judgments, and desires. That’s why we always need to practice: to practice being patient, to practice listening closely, and to practice allowing God’s still-speaking voice–and not just our own thoughts and opinions–to guide us.

Each Sunday here in Oldtown, just after the scripture reading, we all take a deep breath and take a moment to listen for the voice of our still-speaking God. But I wonder, do you ever do that at other times during the week? The truth is, we often get so busy in our everyday lives that we are just like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. We are so busy sharing our opinions on the lasted news stories, gossiping about something someone said or did, or even just working hard at our jobs or raising our families that we don’t pay attention to the presence of God, or to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

Now there are lots of spiritual practices that can help bring our attention back to the divine. We can read scripture. We can spend time in prayer. We can do mission work, or we can sing hymns and spiritual songs. But sometimes, rather than adding more to our already busy schedules, we might be better off doing less–taking more time to just breathe and listen, remembering that we, too, are disciples. And just like Jesus was walking and talking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, sometimes Jesus walks and talks with us too. But like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we are too busy to see and hear him.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, don’t forget to stop every once in a while and take a deep breath. Pay attention to your sacred inner wisdom, and listen for God’s Still Speaking voice. Because if and when you do, you just might begin to realize that, as you’ve been walking this crazy journey called life, Jesus has been right by your side, the whole entire way.

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!


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