Sunday, February 17, 2013

All my hope - a response to this morning's "Together at Ten"

"God unknown
He alone calls my heart to be his own"

we sang this morning, to that wonderful Howell's tune "Michael"....and that theme unfolded in so many ways, both intended and unexpected, as the service went on.

We listened to Luke's account of the temptations and realised once again that Lent was our opportunity to make sure that it was God that had our hearts.
We looked at some of my very favourite temptations....the joy of shoes, of white chocolate with raspberries, of lovely shiny technology
Not bad things in themselves, obviously (I do SO love those purple shoes) but not the place to give our hearts.
More insidious, perhaps, is the temptation to let our churches, both the buildings and the whole wonderful, exasperating, joyous muddle of congregational life become an end in themselves.
How often do I substitute doing things FOR God (in the form of God's church) for doing things WITH God......or better yet, allowing God to do things WITH me.

We considered too the temptation to worldly power, that Jesus resisted.
I thought I might not be so very troubled by that one - til I realised how much it matters to me that things in my church are done "properly" (whatever that means - and whatever mad yardstick I may use to measure it)
And I wondered whether the whole "busyness" thing was part and parcel of the same temptation - to make myself indispensable...
"Look how much I'm doing. You can't possibly manage without me. See how full my diary is!".

By the time we'd thought about all that, I was glad that I'd given everyone a scrappy bit of paper on which to note those things which might hold our hearts in thrall, when truly they belong to God.
We talked about spring cleaning our hearts and then shredded those bits of paper, before making new acts of commitment to God, represented by paper hearts to carry with us as we continue our journey through Lent.

For me, it all came together at the offertory, as we sang "Purify my heart".
"My heart's one desire is to be holy, set apart for you Lord
I choose to be holy, set apart for you my Master, ready to do your will".

I choose to be holy.

I know I'm a long way from being able to sing, or say, with complete truth, that this is my one desire...
I want so many things - those caricatured in the "tempting objects" of the morning, but others too, things good in themselves that too easily crowd in to fill the space belonging to God alone.
But for all that, holiness IS a choice...a choice to continue, despite all the innumerable distractions and false leads, despite the lead-weight of baggage that we insist on carting with, to try to come close to God, who promises that, as he has called us, he will make us worthy of that calling.
"God shall call one and all, We who follow shall not fall"

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