Daily Office Readings for Friday of the First Week of Lent: Year 1
“Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” (Hebrews 4:12 and 13)
I can remember being counseled, while still a seminarian, about using language like “being naked before God’s scrutinizing gaze.” I was told that such language might be very uncomfortable to some parishioners. Now I say, “Let the shoe fit.”
The writer to the Hebrews is trying hard to let the reader know that God breaks us down to the intentions of our hearts. What we end up saying or doing is one thing. What we intend to say or do makes all the difference. God will get at what is in our hearts. And God, through God’s experience in the person of Christ Jesus, has fully experienced what it means to be one of us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
My beloved of the Lord, we are not able to fix our own hearts. God has made us dependent on God alone. So we can, and should, pray. When, not if, we feel we are spiraling down a negative or hateful path, we must stop and petition God to change us. I guess the big decision is, do we want to let go of deceitfulness and hate? If we find ourselves thinking or saying, “I wish I was different,” this then is the time to pray, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of [my] heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that [I] may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 355; modified to first person)
This evening we enter into God’s Holy Rest. This is an ideal time to ponder about a Lenten change in our spiritual life. What kind of person do you wish you were? You can be taken from you are, to where you want to be, through God’s Holy Spirit.
My friends, for this evening, and all day tomorrow; Shabbat Shalom.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John