Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bethany Bullet - September 8, 2010

Yesterday was my 39th first day of school. Part of my “first” days of school, I was a student for 20 years (21 years if you count vicarage, in which I paid tuition and received a grade, though I did not take any classes). I was also an employee for 19 years at a congregation whose ministry included a school (18 years, if you don’t count vicarage, though I received a paycheck and taught a few classes). Yesterday was the FIRST of those first days in which I was actually chilly! I can recall coming home a sweaty mess more often than not, but I cannot recall ever once coming home to pick up a jacket as I did yesterday. Of course, not all beginnings are isolated to annual occasions.

New school years begin every August or September depending on where you leave and where you attend. New school days however, begin each morning at 7:50, 8:05, and 8:30AM or whatever time your particular school starts each morning. New classroom periods begin with the ringing of each bell throughout the school day.

As we begin a new Parish Theme at Bethany, we do so with the acknowledgement that its purpose is to lead us to begin anew with each breath we take. Our Parish Theme this year is “A Heart Like His.” You can thank Reva and Rona Kramer for the beautiful banners and Max Lucado for the concept which was garnered from his book, Just Like Jesus.

Yesterday, I began the school year and later our Board of Elders meeting with a little game of word association. If you are not familiar with word association, I will freely admit that it works better face-to-face rather than through this medium; yet I believe we can make it work.

  • I say, “Christmas” and you reply… “tree”
  • I say, “Tap” and you reply… “dance”
  • You say, “Monday Night” and I reply…”Vespers.” Though I will admit that once-upon-a-time I would have replied “Football”, but now the first thing that comes to my mind is worship.

And that is exactly how word association works…you reply with the first thing that comes to your mind.

Let’s play! God’s heart is… _______________

There were dozens of incredible responses at chapel and our elder’s meeting. I can’t say any were better than others, but I did have some personal favorites.

One middle school student said,
“God’s Heart is…BIG!” Wow! God’s heart has room enough for everyone. EVERY one! EVERY tribe, EVERY tongue, EVERY race, EVERY, every, every nation belongs to Him. God’s heart not only has room for Americans - He loves, welcomes, and has room for Austrians and Algerians just as much as for us. God’s heart isn’t so small that it can only hold members of one political party (i.e. yours), one ideology (i.e. yours), one denomination (i.e. yours), and one geographic region (i.e. ours). God’s heart isn’t too tight to include the Gentiles is it? “Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles too? Yes, of the Gentiles too...” (Romans 3:29)

One of our elders said,
“God’s Heart is…Open.” Hmmm…It is always available, ever ready, and never too busy. It is constantly beckoning, inviting, wanting and waiting. God’s heart is continually focused on us.

Perhaps my favorite was a kindergartener, who said,
“God’s Heart is…loveful.” Now I know that “loveful” isn’t a word; perhaps that is why it is my favorite, as I am prone to make up a few of my own words every once in awhile. But God’s heart is “loveful.” Doesn’t that put a smile on your face?

That is when it hit me…
-> So often my heart is resentful. I find myself brooding over old wounds, refusing to forgive, nurturing pain, and harvesting bitterness.
-> So often my heart is spiteful. I gossip, spread rumors, or just point out the “facts” as I see them even though there is no reason to do so.
-> So often my heart is prideful. I look down on others who, (let’s admit it) do not have it as together as I do, or are not nearly as bright as I am, obviously lacking the skills I possess, and let’s never get into looks.
-> Come to think of it, my heart is also often closed. It refuses to forgive and therefore can’t forget. At times it is so focused on me that it must keep everyone and everything else out.
-> My heart is too often too small. Big enough for those who agree with me completely and at times not even for them. Big enough for me only! At times my heart is even too small for God’s wisdom, God’s will, and God’s way. My heart is nothing like His!

No matter what our “words” are, our “association” is perfect isn’t it? It’s okay to admit that your heart is nothing like His! For here is the good news you need to hear! God’s heart is “loveful” for you, for me, for anyone!

  • Though our hearts are resentful, spiteful, and prideful - His is “loveful” towards us on account of Christ.
  • Though ours are closed, hardened, barred, and boarded up all too often - His is open unto us always!
  • Though our hearts are small and constricted - His is big enough even for you and me!

Pouring out His heart for us, living within our own hearts through faith, though by nature they are not anything like His, by His power in Word, worship & sacrament, He would give us A Heart Like His and it begins anew with each beat.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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