Created to be together, we join in the collective work of God’s healing and love.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
Texts: Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
I recently ate an artichoke, pulling petal by petal away, trying to get to its heart. If you’ve had an artichoke, you know that it can be quite the process pulling away each petal. And then there gets to a point when you are so close to the heart, or what looks the heart, only to realize that there is still one more hairy layer, what’s called the choke, to pull back, revealing the long-awaited heart.
A vegetable metaphor is odd, I know, normally we hear about peeling back the layers of an onion…but we all know that just makes us cry…and really once you pull back the layers you are just left with tears and more onion than you know what to do with.
Getting to the heart of an artichoke is a process, one the takes patience and honestly a lot of perseverance. But the thing is, is that once you start tasting the nourishment on the petals and get a glimpse of what is at the center, you won’t stop until you get the heart.
Now if you’ve never had an artichoke before, or even if you have, you may be wondering what an artichoke has to do with reformation. But reformation is all about getting to the heart and the task at hand for us today is to peel back the layers of shame, guilt, fear, and sin in the world and in our lives to get to the heart of who God has created us to be.
Sometimes we think about reformation as change and that we have to work to create something new and innovative in order to make an impact. But what if reformation is about revealing what has already been inscribed on our hearts.
Unconditional love is on your heart.
Forgiveness is on your heart.
Passion, and energy, and community are inscribed on your heart.
This is what God, through the prophet Jeremiah, reminds us today. God says “I will put my law within [my people], and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
Most of what we know about who we are as God’s beloved has already been inscribed on our heart: God’s grace and love is at the center of who you are. Knowing that love and grace, experiencing that love and grace, tasting that love and grace, is going to lead us into the world where our hearts break open and forgiveness and healing are poured out.
God made a covenant that changed our hearts. That dealt with the core of who we are. So that when we are wondering in the world wondering what we can do to deeply love God and love our neighbor, all we have to do is listen to our heart.
God’s justice, and healing, and mercy, and love are the pulse of our lives and they are what flows through our entire body. Transforming us with heartbeat of our heart.
We are capable to bring forth reformation, real change in our society, that goes beyond what we can imagine for ourselves and our neighbors if we can just get to the heart and confront the sin in our world and in our lives, knowing that God’s grace, shown through the life, and death, and resurrection of Christ, frees us to live boldly in service to our neighbors.
It can feel daunting to think of reform when so many intertwined systems are involved. It feels daunting that it is our collective sin of not loving our neighbors, of putting our own needs and comforts before the needs and comforts of others is what makes up these systems.
But what is collective sin is also a collective task at hand. It is not just me and you that has “beloved” written on our heart, but every person. We—all of us—were created to love our neighbor and love ourselves.
God’s promise for our lives in Christ is at the center of who we are and at the center of community.
Through you, God is changing things. God is moving things. God is breaking down systems and peeling back layers to expose what is at the heart of it all…
And as we join in the work of Christ, we experience the truth of who God is, the Holy one who created us, reformed us, changed us, transform us, and leads us to the heart of the needs of the world where are heart join together and love and grace pour out.