Greetings, beloved community!
It has been a weird few weeks in the wake of my husband Tristan’s heart attack, but I believe our family is slowly regaining our footing. Perhaps it’s the hospice chaplain in me, but it feels oddly reassuring to move forward with an increased sense of our mortality. I feel as though I, at least, am looking at the world with fresh eyes, and it is a remarkably beautiful world.
Those of you who have been at church on the second Sunday of any month will know how foolishly obsessed I am with construction paper cut-out hearts (which, if you don’t know, we use as part of our monthly Manna Project offering for Our Place in Bellows Falls). There is just something so cheerful about hearts, I find, and cutting them out of colorful paper is pretty much the only craft I’m any good at, which makes it doubly fun.
Well, let me tell you, in the wake of a major cardiac event, hearts have become even more central to me. When Tristan had to travel not long after coming home from the hospital, I sent him off with a small glass pocket-heart as a talisman. I see hearts in nature all the time ~ rocks and leaves and shadows. And a surprising number of my hospice conversations relate to the heart, whether it be the physical organ or the heart as center of human emotion. The heart is passion and compassion, courage and strength, love and the steady beat that undergirds all of life.
I recently engaged with some colleagues who are contemplating working together to name and address some of the very real needs within our communities, and one of the questions we were given to discuss was something like “what is your vision of your vocation?” I admit that I felt a little silly about how simple my response was: to seek, through worship leadership, pastoral care, and courageous interaction with the powers that be, to show God’s heart to the world. That’s a stripped down version of my understanding of my call, of course, but that might just be the gist of it.
And what is God’s heart like? When Jesus uses parables to teach his followers, he often begins with “The Kingdom of God is like …” and then tells his surprising stories. I once heard a brilliant Jesuit preacher talk about his preferred understanding of the phrase Kingdom of God. He suggested that when we wonder what the Kingdom of God refers to, we should think of it as “God’s dream for the world.” I think if we know God’s heart, we’ll understand God’s dream for the world … and we’ll know that it is a very good dream indeed.
Regardless of our faith path, I believe knowing and sharing God’s heart, which is full of love for every single one of us, is the main point of our existence. In the church, one way we explore that love is to study the life of Jesus, who is for us the very Incarnation of Love. During Advent and Christmas, we’ll be recalling his birth story and wondering at the fact that, despite it all, God’s heart still brims with love for us. I hope you know we’d love to have you join us in church as we celebrate and honor that great love through song and prayer, laughter and challenge, tradition and newness. Please join us!
Wishing you and yours and all the world peace and love,