Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Heart Smart Spiritual Exercises and a Holy Lent: an Homily for Ash Wednesday with reference to Joel 2, 2 Corinthians 6 and Matthew 6

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6:21) 
Tonight, is our annual invitation to engage in a little spiritual cardiac health assessment. Interesting that this should be the day before the day of hearts, Valentine’s Day.  

Tonight, if we so choose, we begin a forty day spiritual cardiac stress test using some spiritual exercises or disciplines, to see how well our spiritual hearts are working and how efficient they are. We’ll be watching for signs of spiritual arrhythmia and disease. We’ll be checking where our hearts are, and making sure they're where we think they are, where we, and The Lord, would like them to be. This is an important process, because, as we’ve just heard, where our hearts are, our true treasure is to be found. 

I said spiritual cardiac stress test. If you think stress is too strong a word and I’m being over dramatic, consider the language in Holy Scripture this evening. 

Joel’s words are urgent (2:1-2): 
Sound the alarm! …the day of the LORD is coming, it is near—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.
And Paul writes of (2 Cor 6:4-5): 
afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger, dishonour and ill repute (v8), dying and punished (v9), sorrowful, poor and having nothing (v10). 
Even Jesus is on about dismal hypocrites with disfigured faces (Mt 6:16), moths and rust that consume, thieves that break in and steal (Mt 6:20). 

Serious, and when we have live through such things, stressful, stuff. How do we get through life when it’s like that? 

By leading with our hearts. "Return to me with all your heart," writes Joel, "with fasting, with weeping and with mourning. Rend you hearts." (Joel 2:12-13) 

Here is the prescription for spiritual cardiac health and a Holy Lent. 

We are about to be invited, in the Name of The Lord, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God. (BAS 282)

These are absolutely trustworthy and effective heart-smart spiritual exercises, guaranteed to fight off spiritual arrhythmia, hardening of the arteries, or any other spiritual heart disease.  

Why is this so important? Because of Jesus who’s heart on earth now beats in his body, the Church. Do these faithfully and your heart will come to beat in time with his. When that happens, we find real, everlasting, abundant life giving, grace filled treasure and our heart’s true home.