It seems easier to just cover our ears, close our eyes, ignore, or condemn messages that are too hard to digest, or condemn people we just don’t like; and yet…. we are still forgiven; and we are still loved.
As I was covering my ears or my eyes at various points, the 8-year-old daughter of a friend of mine walked by and asked: “Why are you covering your ears and eyes? Are you playing a game aunty Vivian?” ….. “well…no, I am just feeling uncomfortable with the scripture readings, and I feel sad”. She then asked, “don’t feelings come from your heart?” I said, “well…. yes, a lot of feelings come from the heart”. Then she said, “why not put your hands over your heart instead, then you will feel better?” It sounded like such a silly thing to do, but who was I to say, since I had just been reading scripture covering my ears or eyes; then she prompted, “try it aunty Viv……try it, and let me know after I am done playing what happens.” I humored her and tried it. I opened my ears, opened my eyes, and put my hand over my heart, and read the readings again. Surprisingly, these readings weren’t about the end, they weren’t just about what I deemed as the impossible task of Christian unity and somehow loving my enemies enough to forgive them and pray for them, the readings were about new beginnings, life, sustainable love, and reconciliation; the readings were about having our sight on something greater than ourselves and living in love for the greater glory of God. I almost missed that message. With my hand over my heart, I realized that I am in Christ and Christ is in me, and has never left, and will always be. With my hand over my heart, I realized that our unity as the body of Christ, the church, was not about sameness, thinking alike or worshiping in the same building, it was about oneness of heart; many hearts beating as one; many hearts in concert conducted by the love of God. I didn’t have the opportunity to let my friend’s insightful daughter know what I had discovered because she didn’t want anyone interrupting her favorite cartoon, and she told us to be quiet. However, I became more appreciative of the many ways God speaks, and the encounters with unexpected teachers of life’s secrets.
My hand on my heart became my pledge to be a bridge builder for the kingdom of God, and with my eyes wide open, I will see the face of God in all those I meet…. yes, including those who are a little difficult. This world is full of disunity, divisions and still, Jesus prays for us to be united in love. Unity, as in finding common ground rather than a focus on our differences. Unity, as in knowing that we are all children of God, and even those we don’t find agreeable are also part of the family of God. The readings today invite us, to above all, look to God, live in love, forgive ourselves and others, see beyond the present situation of our life, reach for the embrace of God rather than the acceptance of our fellow travelers in this life, and come forward and drink life-giving water that quenches our deepest thirst for more. With my hand over my heart, I lift my eyes up in anticipation for this new beginning, the dawn of a new day, and the nourishment of the Holy Spirit. Good morning Jesus, he who is always coming to us; he who is already here; he who never left us; he who unites us and prays for us.
So, as I get on with my day, I ask myself, ‘for whom do I pray for today?’…my family…..my friends…myself…the poor, or other people I know and love who are sick or struggling, but honestly, it is still difficult to pray for those who have hurt me in anyway, or those who have let me down; I am still working on that. So, I ask you, for whom do you feel called to pray for this day?