Saturday, December 17, 2016

Open Your Heart

One of the texts for today is   John 3: 31-36

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things.
 The one who comes from heaven is above all. 
He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 
Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 
He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.
 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath.

I think the word "believes" in this is so tricky - because it always seems like intellectual assent.  Instead I like to think of this phrase - "whoever opens their heart."  There is, in faith, a leap of faith where at some point  we choose to trust in God's presence and to following the "way" of Jesus. In the evangelical  tradition there is often a moment of "being saved" (born again) and giving our life to the Lord.  I remember going to the Jerry Falwell Museum in Lynchburg Virginia and that date was displayed because it was so pivotal.

My experience is that faith is a series of those moments of awareness coupled with times of decision.  And "opening our hearts" is as good of a term to describe it.  We open our heart and receive the spirit that guides us in forgiveness, peacemaking, and just plain loving life.  But it also means we give up our plans and our control.

I have a picture that Wendy gave me that is in my prayer room and it says this:


What I keep finding is that when I finally do open my heart - or say yes again - what is waiting for me is richer life - feeling more deeply both joy and sorrow.  And I have a greater awareness of God's blessings in the midst of the mess that is me, the trials of people I love , the grave concerns I have for our country and the world.  I wish I could stay in that place of openheartedness but it doesn't take long for the defense, the distractions, the denials, to close me up again.

It is almost as if we open the door to God and then close it again.  And the good news is that God keeps knocking no matter what.  In the book Soulcraft Bill Plotkin includes this poem by Adrienne Rich:

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises,
it is only a door.


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