Hearts of Stone to Hearts of Flesh
Ezekiel 36:24-27: I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
At the end of February, we will be entering the season of Lent. Lent is a penitential season of the church. This means it is it time for inward reflection and recognition of our sin in our feelings toward God not so that we are miserable, but so that we might look toward Christ as our true and only hope even more than we already do. As we enter the season of Lent you’ll notice a common theme that keeps coming up – the human heart. Our heart is an interesting thing. And I am of course not talking about the physical organ which pumps blood throughout the body, but the spiritual organ that pumps our desires and longings throughout our soul. The spiritual heart is fascinating; it has the capacity to be rock hard or it can be compassionate. Our spiritual heart can be unmoving, or it can be gracious. Our spiritual heart can be unforgiving, or it can be merciful.
By ourselves, by our own powers, our hearts would never change. They would remain hard, unmoving and unforgiving our whole lives. But this is NOT your heart. The scripture passage above says that God will “give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” This is a divine prophecy fulfilled when God baptized you and switched out your hard heart and has given you Christ’s compassionate heart. God has switched out your unmoving heart and has given you Christ’s gracious heart. God has switched out your unforgiving heart and has given you Christ’s merciful heart.
God has truly made you a new person. God is not talking metaphorically above, or symbolically above or using some flowery language from a poem. In Christ, you really ARE a new people with new hearts – Christ’s heart.
As we prepare to enter this season of Lent, I pray that it will be a time for our congregation to look honestly into the depths of our hearts and yearn more and more, every day, to be transformed by Christ’s compassion, graciousness and mercy toward ourselves and others.
In Christ’s Love,