Monday, April 2, 2012

A Change of Heart...

Jeremiah 31:31 – 34

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt--a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Since it appeared in the lectionary a few weeks ago, this verse has stuck with me, as has the idea Pastor Jeff preached about our hearts being changed.

That Sunday, there was much buzz on Facebook about Trayvon Martin and what would be said about his shooting in church that Sunday.  Nothing specifically about this young man and the situation was said in our church.  And I have pondered that throughout the last several weeks.  Nothing was said either about human trafficking or civil unrest in Africa or about domestic violence or about road rage or bullying.  Not specifically. 

But we did talk about what it means to have God written upon our hearts. 

I want to dream about the practical reality of that with you, just a bit.

I heard a heart-breaking series of stories this week on the radio about bullying among children.  I was bullied.  In my adult life, I have to catch myself from using my power to bully others.  My children have been bullied and have bullied in return.  What change of heart do I need to experience as a human, as a parent, as someone who works with kids to truly make a difference in the way children see, encounter and treat one another?  Lord, change my heart.

I am overwhelmed by the debate about healthcare in the United States. While politicians and accountants are tied up in questions of cost and equitability and who shoulders what burdens, I long to hear someone answer this question, “Why is it ok for any human to go without the basic healthcare they need?”  Lord, change our hearts.

I operate in a denominational system where there are many layers – layers of approval and vetting and review and paperwork…all to determine someone’s worthiness to respond to a call they believe God has placed on their lives.  I understand that due diligence prevents people from getting hurt.  But I also understand that layers upon layers make it easier for us to hide behind the rules and the processes.  It makes it easier to forget that we are sitting with another human with a heart for God, with a life to live for the good of the Kingdom.  And our actions in response to one another in that system have ripple effects.  Lord, change our hearts.

I sit in meetings where we debate about furniture, job descriptions, curriculum and budget lines.  Those are important things, but we get so locked in to our own understanding of what is right and what is wrong. What should be done and what should not be done.  We forget that the person “on the other side” of the issue is just that, a person.  Lord, change our hearts.

In this season of Lent, I have been newly aware of the gift of grace in my life, of the movement of God all around me, and I am grateful for that.  Also in this season, I have become aware of what seems like a simple solution and I believe in a God that has the power to walk with us if only we choose to let our hearts be changed, if we choose to let God write on our hearts.  Jesus sat with the sick, the possessed and the outcast and named their pain, looked at their suffering and changed their hearts.  I confess I need the same.

We are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and soul and strength.  Second we are called to love our neighbor.  Period. 

Lord, in your mercy, change my heart.  And help me be someone who inspires and encourages and supports others as they seek to have their hearts changed.