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I Will Write Them On Their Hearts…

March 18, 2015

Jesus I Trust in You

While traveling in Ireland, we saw a number of these signs on the side of the road. I would often chuckle and say, “Yes,  Lord, as I drive on the other side of the very narrow roads, I put ALL my trust in you!” The picture is actually on a prayer card that I have in Gaelic as a memento from our trip.  The picture is called “Divine Mercy”.

One of the things I noticed as we traveled around Ireland was the number of religious sites, shrines, holy places, wells, and other places where you could literally feel the centuries of prayer soaked into the very atmosphere. What intrigues me and draws me to this picture, Divine Mercy, is the light emanating from the heart of our Lord. The light almost seems to invite you to draw closer to the Lord and be warmed by the light of his love.

There is another icon called “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” which also reveals the heart of the Lord for us to contemplate. While it is different from “Divine Mercy” in many ways, it also calls you closer to the heart of our Lord.

Sacred Heart

So what’s up with the icons and images, Padre? Aren’t you a Presbyterian? Well, while I am Presbyterian, I have been drawn through the years to artwork which speaks to my soul. And Icons can do just that for me. As a visual mage to contemplate, the picture can draw me into the subject and beyond the subject. There is a particular form of contemplation called Visio Divina which uses art or photography as a way to draw closer to God and to perhaps hear God speak through the image. I find it a wonderful balance along side of the more traditional Lectio Divina which is the contemplation and meditation on Scripture or other Sacred Writings.

These images also remind me of the passage from Jeremiah which is the Lectionary text for this Sunday. In Jeremiah 31, we read the following verses — “‘The day is coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors’… ‘I will put my instructions deep within their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.'” (vss. 31-32a, 33b)

The people of the Exile had their Temple, the center of their worship and identity, stripped from them. Without the land and the Temple, how could they possibly keep the Law which made them unique among all their neighbors? What would set them apart as God’s chosen people?

Too often today, it appears that outward trappings are what Christians use to “set themselves apart” from others. The size of the cross you wear… the church building you have… the memorials and plaques… the size of your Bible… is that what makes an individual a Christian?

When I was in the US Air Force as a Chaplain, I always had a cross as a part of my uniform. I wore the cross above the left breast pocket of my uniform. It was my distinct occupational badge. It made it easy to distinguish immediately who I was. The downside was that I could easily rely upon the cross to represent who I was instead of my words or actions. Now don’t be mistaken, even with a cross on his or her chest, a Chaplain could very quickly “show their colors” to others and leave people wondering what sort of a person of faith that Chaplain was!

Jeremiah speaks to me of something different. The people, without the Temple or the Promised Land to set them apart, have another challenge in front of them. For me, it speaks to a new and radical way of being. I have taken to calling myself a Christ-Follower instead of Christian these days. Sadly, too many Christians busily drag the name of Christ through the mud. The phrase Christian is too often synonymous with hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and intolerance. Something has to change… and I believe that Jeremiah is pointing us towards that change. The people were told that the new covenant would have nothing to do with outward trappings like the Temple or the Promised Land, but rather with what was written on their hearts.

Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but rather to fulfill them. And how do you fulfill them? Love God and Love Neighbor! That is the law which is supposed to be written upon our hearts. That is the law of love which the Divine Mercy and Sacred Heart remind me of.

Lord, help me to be more like you… Help me to be a Christ-Follower… One who seeks to live out your love in this world… May your law of love be written upon my heart!

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