Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hearts and Ashes

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." These are the words we hear or sing or recite each Ash Wednesday when we come before God in petition.  When we invite God to make our hearts new, having failed to love God or God's people as fully and wholly as we should.  We are marked with ashes as a reminder of our humanness - that very thing that identifies us as created in Gods image and that causes us to mess up.

Still God is faithful.  God's heart is for us.  As we progress through Lent this year we will hear in worship (or you can follow along yourself here) the story of God's covenant love for all creation and for us in particular.  One of my favorite texts of this season comes near the end. "I will put my law within them," God says, "and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." This is written in Jeremiah to a people longing to feel connected to God again.

This is an intimate kind of law.  It is a law of love that will be known to us because God is within us, loving us from the inside out.  A love so known to us that we cannot help but show it and live it.  A love so strong and so much a part of us that when we don't show it and live it, it will endure because God endures.

People often give something up for Lent.  I have, myself, opted for the classic giving up coffee or chocolate.  I've also fasted from Facebook or other media.  If that's a practice that works for you as a posture of prayer, a way to connect your heart to God's heart, great!  If that's not your gig, or if you're looking for something to practice with others, or with your family, what about some of these:
  • send a handwritten card or note to someone each day (or let's be real: each week)
  • deciding on an amount per ounce of water everyone consumes to donate to a water charity
  • collecting and donating a bag of toys, clothes or clutter, one item each day
  • doing a random act of kindness each day
  • reading through one of the Gospels, (this year it's Mark - the shortest)
  • print out a 'Praying in Color' lent calendar and fill in each day with a doodle or a color that illustrates a prayer (scroll down a little to see the pdf links) or make your own.
  • Create and decorate a donation box and put something in it each day to bring to a local foodbank
  • Create a thanksgiving wall or poster and add a note to it each day. Or go the extra step and make it a tree - by the end, as spring arrives, the tree will be full of leaves
Most of the suggestions above are from the Practicing Families site or my own head, but for more and more detail try Traci Smith's website.  Her book Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Spaces at Home has wonderful ways of making room for God in the everyday life of family. 

May your hearts be pliable to God's to the writing of God. 
May God's heart be the heart in which you find home.

No comments: