The First Congregational Church of Darien

United Church of Christ

A community of faith since 1737

FINDING OUR CONTRITE HEART

Hearing the story of Christ’s passion, as we did last Sunday, I can hardly believe the likes of Gary and I must retell that story, and that you must hear it again. Why is that? The story is so heartbreaking. As Gary reminded us, God’s was the first heart to break at this turn of events. In hearing it, it breaks our hearts afresh. We go deeper into hurt and suffering, hoping we might arise with Christ into his joy.

What is the alternative? Today a church member sent me the notice of the official Darien Easter Egg hunt this Sunday morning.  All right, we have an Easter egg hunt as well, featuring the Easter bunny. But it is a concession to our very young, not a replacement for everything else we do on Easter morning.  Maybe it would not bother me if they scheduled it other than Sunday morning when the churches are offering services.  The point is, we don’t want to splash in the shallows, but rather swim out into the depths of what God was up to in Jesus’ dying and rising.

I am glad for the reassurance of the Psalmist, that God will not turn away from a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51.17)  My friend Mary Luti writes the best translation is that God will not spurn a contrite heart.  God cannot turn away from such a heart.  What is it about a heart that has been shaken, shattered, opened, and made pliable that God cannot resist?  We tend to recoil, but God draws near.

That makes me ask: what would it be like if I took on a contrite heart as a way of life, not just for the shame I feel at having done something in particular wrong. Frankly, that’s what Holy Week is all about: letting our hearts become broken with God through Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.  Why do something so counterintuitive?  Because the promise is God will draw near to us.

I am not talking about wallowing in guilt.  I am not talking about perpetual self-loathing, posturing self-abasement, or gloomily beating our breast and wailing. I am talking about gaining a heart aware that we make hurtful mistakes and will do so again.  I am talking about assuming that as our baseline as human beings.

Yes, again, it’s counterintuitive. But notice, as our hearts accept and welcome frailty, and take on the vulnerability of others’ hardship and adversity, our hearts become magnets for God.  Every soul needs a heart conversant with failure.

The Psalmist prays for a heart truthful about what it lacks, a heart that lives on its knees at hearing of misfortune, a heart surrendered to the grace all around us. That is the heart I want.  That is the heart Holy Week would gladly impart to us.See you tomorrow for Maundy Thursday Tenebrae at 7, or Good Friday walking of the cross to St. Luke’s (where I am the first preacher), or Good Friday vigilant, reading through as much of the New Testament as we can cover.  God hears us. God knows the broken parts of our hearts, because his was broken so deeply.

See you tomorrow for Maundy Thursday Tenebrae at 7, or Good Friday walking of the cross to St. Luke’s (where I am the first preacher), or Good Friday vigilant, reading through as much of the New Testament as we can cover.  God hears us. God knows the broken parts of our hearts, because his was broken so deeply.

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