John Paarlberg serves as a volunteer and retreat leader for Camp Fowler. John is pastor at First Church in Albany, New York.
How is your heart?
In biblical thought the heart is not just the source of our emotions, nor only the seat of memory, but the center of our being. Located midway between your head and your gut, your heart is the meeting place where mind and feelings combine to form convictions, where thoughts and desires are merged into purposes. Your heart is your emotional, volitional, and moral center. It is what you decide in your heart that determines your actions.
Hearts can be hardened, rebellious, deceitful. Jeremiah was not at all encouraging about the proclivities of the human heart in chapter 17, verse 9: “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?”
Apparently God can. And God does not give up on the heart. The people of Israel had broken the covenant and turned from God in their hearts. And that is precisely where God goes to work—on the heart.
All of the action here is God’s: God will make a new covenant. God will put his law within them. God will write it on their hearts. God will forgive.
Is there hope for the human heart? Not if left to our own devices. But we are not left to fix our own hearts. God does that. Therein lies our hope, “and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
Prayer: Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ our Lord. (From the Book of Common Prayer)
The 2015 Lenten reflections were submitted by staff, volunteers, board members, campers, and friends who have spent time at Camp Fowler in New York.
For this year’s Lent devotions, the days follow the Common Lectionary texts. Each author was invited to: 1.Read the passage.
2.Read a couple passages before and after the assigned day.
3.Do something else for the day, keeping the passage in mind.
4.Find a word/phrase/concept that connects with your own experience. Reflect on that.
You are encouraged to do the same.