From Pastor's Desk

REND YOUR HEARTS AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS

12“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel :2:12-13).

Interestingly, this year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, which is on February 14, 2024. As
one devotional points out that both, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have a lot to do with hearts. On Ash Wednesday, the prophet Joel from our Old Testament reading will ask us to rend our hearts and not our garments. It was common practice in the ancient world to tear their garments and sit on ashes as a way of repenting for the things knowingly or unknowingly committed. The prophet reminds us that it is not the garments that need tearing but hearts – how telling as we begin this season. On that same day, the Psalter will point us to Psalm 51, where King David pointedly tells us that God does not reject a “broken and a contrite heart.”

Again, on Ash Wednesday, Jesus’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 will point us to prayer, fasting and alms giving. Jesus will ask us to guard our hearts against the desires to accumulate and acquire more. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21). So central to Ash Wednesday is the activity of the heart.

On Valentine’s Day, the emphasis will still be on the heart. This is about the heart that madly falls in love with the person of their liking. I think on Ash Wednesday this heart needs to be reoriented and counter cultural to the one that the world suggests if we want to be a true disciple of Christ. Jesus will ask us to love people not only whom we like but even the unlovable. Just a thought!

Our understanding (the modern human) of heart is more to do with the physical.Human life is centered in the heart and so if the heart stops beating, the person ceases to live. Heart, in the Bible, goes a little further than the physical. In the Hebrew thought, the heart has to do with the physical, intellectual, and emotional.

As one blogger writes, ancient Israel “[They] imagined that all of a human’s intellectual activity takes place in the heart. For example, you know with your heart.”They desired with their hearts and that’s the reason the Psalmist says that if we delight in Him, He will “the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4). So, heart for them “is the center of all parts of human existence. As in the well-known Proverb, “guard your heart because from it flows your whole life.” (Proverbs 4:23).”

No wonder the people of Israel and later, Jesus emphasized the importance of the heart in all human activity. The Shema called for the Israelites to love God “with all our heart, soul, and strength.” This is about loving God with the totality of our being. Will this also mean that we are called to love God even when things don’t happen our way? At times when God seems silent to our pleas, we are called to love and obey Him with all our being. May be that is the call as we enter this season of Lent.

I think it is a great start to think about hearts as we begin and journey through the season of Lent. On Ash
Wednesday, we are called to examine our hearts and to see if we are right with God and humbly seek His forgiveness. During this season, we will be asked to guard our hearts from all the practices that take us away from the things of God. And if have done this examining and guarding well during this season we can come to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, with grateful and joyful heart for the salvation of our souls thru the sinless death of a Savior. In the end, we can journey thru the season beyond Easter with confident hearts knowing of the promised presence of the Risen Savior among us.


Rev. Kamalesh Stephen

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From Pastor's Desk

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From Pastor's Desk

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From Pastor's Desk

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All through the month of April, we celebrated the presence of the Risen Christ among us. Jesus comes thru closed doors, appears to his disciples, and offers them words of comfort in their moments of pain, guilt and ‘locked attitudes’ of their own. Few things that really stood out for me as I read the … Continue reading “MOTHERING GOD “

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