Commanded to Love: With All Our Heart

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 12:30 and Matthew 6:19-21

Andrew and I ventured out the day after Christmas to complete a few errands. We waited until after lunch as we did not want to be caught up in the rush of returns at local stores. We arrived at a retail store and where stunned to see all of the Christmas-related items had been slapped with clearance tags and heaped into a corner to make room for the pink-violet-velvet-lace of Valentine’s Day. I guess I should not be that surprised…retailers haul out Fall candy and decorations midday on the Fourth of July…

The commercialism and consumerism of our culture tells us that occasions like Valentine’s Day are how we best express the depths of our heart. Buy a sentimental card. Send flowers. Make reservations for dinner at a trendy restaurant. Smile. Laugh. And then on February 15 all of the feelings and sentiments garnered for the day previous are heaped into a corner donning clearance tags.

In the immortal words of Marcie from Peanuts, “Duck, sir; Easter is coming.”

When I think back on the most memorable heart days in my life, very few are associated with Valentine’s Day. They are associated with family, friends, and congregants that invested in my heart by sharing their kindness, gifts, humility, and humor. These persons poured into my heart and that nourishment is truly life-giving.

Confessions: I like material things. I like nice things. But I do not treasure material things. I treasure time. I treasure that sort of attention – giving and receiving – where all else falls away and two people or a small group of people are able to simply be and enjoy the gift that is each other. This is a gift we share because we are all God’s children.

I remember Bonnie, a member of the first congregation I served in the Florida. Her gentleness flowed like a mighty river and this woman was sharp as a tack to boot. Her body was failing due to metastasized cancer, but nothing could claim her spirit because God’s Spirit had claimed her long ago. I was called to the hospital in her final days and there we prayed and wept and dreamed of how she would continue serving the Kingdom in her eternal life. With joy she shared how she followed Jesus all her life and now she was about to look him in the face and serve with him side by side.

Bonnie then grasped my hand and ushered me closer to her face. She whispered her care for me and told me her final gift to me would be a gift card to buy more fabulous stilettos that she loved to see me wear. I am sorry to tell you, Bonnie, your shoes were not the final gift, but I did you proud by them! Your final gift is that your pouring into me – your witness of Christ – continues to sanctify me, continues to make me holy. You touched me. Your heart connected and remains connected with mine. Your legacy of care lives on in me and I hope I am a worthy tribute of your example and teaching.

This day in my life continues to be a powerful teaching about the holiness of heart and the source of true treasure. Where and when have you experienced these heart moments? What have they revealed to you about treasure?

Thank you, Bonnie. I cannot wait to see you again.

Prayer: “Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart. Here is the citadel of all my desiring, where my hopes are born and all the deep resolutions of my spirit take wings. In this center, my fears are nourished, and all my hates are nurtured. Here my loves are cherished, and all the deep hungers of my spirit are honored without quivering and without shock. In my heart, above all else, let love and integrity envelop me until my love is perfected and the last vestige of my desiring is no longer in conflict with thy Spirit. Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart. Amen.”*

*”For Holiness of Heart,” The United Methodist Hymnal 401.

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