God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Heart for God


The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark a prayer journey, Day 34

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people honours me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
   teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’
   Then he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, “Honour your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban” (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.’
   Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’
   When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’                                                                   Mark 7:1-23
       What makes your heart acceptable to God?  What is it that causes you to be separated from God?  
       In this section of Mark, Jesus is again confronted by religious authorities, including a contingent form the center of power in Jerusalem. They have come to question Jesus about how you practice religion, what rules should be followed. So the outward argument is about washing hands before eating. And just for the record, I am all for clean hands before eating in order to prevent the spread of disease. But they aren't really arguing about handwashing. They are arguing about how do you follow God and faithfully practice your faith. The religious leaders are arguing for following the oral tradition, what has been passed down from generation to generation as the way to be faithful. While Jesus is quoting the scripture, the written tradition, Jesus is pushing this argument even further, he wants us to consider where our hearts are. While talking about purity being about outer rules, Jesus wants us to think about purity being a matter of the state of our hearts. If inside your heart is evil, you will produce evil. If your heart is pure, you will produce good. So this discussion ends with Jesus talking about what produces hardened hearts or a heart for God. Jesus says that what comes out of us is what shows our goodness. If in our lives we have evil thoughts, fornicate, theft, murder, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness - these are the things that separate us from each other and from God. When this evil comes forth from our hearts; it keeps us from experiencing a connection to God. Jesus invites us to heal these wounded hearts. But he is also arguing against the rules that keep people out of our community for not following a certain practices. Those boundaries, like hand washing, keep people set apart with some viewed as undesirable, wicked, thugs, different. These barriers keep us from connecting with each other and with God. Jesus is coming to break down these separations and draw us into relationship with each other and with God. We are invited to turn back to God, repent. We are invited to let go of the traditions that hurt our hearts and the hearts of others. We are invited to draw people into a new way of living that is open to the movement of God in our lives that allows us to look at other differently and to help people change their lives around the big follies - fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. Repent and believe the Good News, God has come to change your heart.

Prayer practice:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
St. Patrick's Breastplate (7th or 8th century).
St. Patrick's Breastplate

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