Posted by: Walk.Build.Proclaim | February 28, 2014

Return to me with your whole heart

Looks like March is definitely coming in like a lion in the midwest. March is still roaring with cold, wind and more of the dreaded “S” word….snow.
Hopefully, as the month continues, winter will loosen its grip on the Midwest and give us
some glimpses of new life.

Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten Season is just a couple of days away. Most people look at what they can strip away from their lives during this season and I am looking at different ways to re-engage in various parts of my life that have fallen by the way-side. Blogging is one of those practices that has sadly fallen away.  I thought Lent would be a good time to try and post at least twice a week.

Lent is a season of conversion. A time to return to God with our whole heart. We’ll hear that invitation to return to God with our whole heart on Ash Wednesday, its one of the first lines of the reading from the prophet Joel.  Before we can return to God with our whole heart we need to take a step back and look at what is preventing us from giving God our whole heart. This weekend’s gospel reading and reading from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians invite us to take an inventory of our lives and our hearts and find a way to let go of the extra idols / masters in our lives.

Jesus says very clearly to his disciples in this weekend’s gospel;

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  Matthew 6.24-34

I have spent  the last six weeks, reading the “Book of Wisdom” with someone that I visit. Over and over again is the same message, you can’t possibly serve God and your idols at the same time. You need to make a choice, to serve, honor and worship the one living God or your idols that are man-made – widdled out of old knotted wood. Idols that have no arms, no legs, no breath and can have control in and over your life if you let them.

The Lenten season is about banishing those idols out of our lives, whatever they may
be: greed, prejudice, anger, frustration, bitterness…. this may seem like a daunting task
to let go of those idols and change our hearts. If we don’t find a way to relinquish control of the  idols, masters, mammon in of our lives, we will have a very hard time accepting the invitation from the Prophet Joel.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,

Returning to God with our whole heart will  take a little bit of time. The idols that are part of our lives didn’t just show up one day; slowly they made appearances. We now have 40 days to kick them out of our lives for good and return to God with our whole heart.

We know we can’t do this alone. We’re going to need the help of our respective faith communities, families, friends and prayer!

Maybe lent is a good time to include some new forms of prayer in your life. I have slowly started adding the Liturgy of the Hours to my daily prayer life. I’ve been fairly successful in incorporating night prayer, my goal is to include morning prayer as well. (I’m hoping it will warm up enough to walk with my dogs and listen and pray along). Each part of the Liturgy of the Hours includes some time for self-reflection an inventory of our day if you will. What do we need to let go of?  There is an app called ibreviary so you can read along as the day progresses, I also found a podcast that is very well done .Liturgy of the Hours

Whatever practices your going to add to your life during lent or take away during lent, I hope that they help you return to God with your whole heart. As St. Paul said to the Corinthians, this is an acceptable time.

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says:  In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Cor. 5.20-6.2


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Gary Neal Hansen

Theology. It's good for you.

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