Heart health is an issue in my family. On my paternal side, my great grandfather died from heart issues, and so did my grandfather. My own father has had one heart attack, when he was in his 50′s, and then a few years ago underwent bypass. Then as well, there is a tendency for high cholesterol.

So I monitor my health as best I can. My cholesterol tends a bit too high, but my blood pressure is excellent, and I do exercise. My heart is doing good physically.

Spiritually I have also had to learn to care for my heart as well.

Jesus cautions against hard heartedness (Mk 3:1-6) which he saw as doing evil. Hardened Hearts was what kept the 12 disciples from understanding Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

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One of my favorite images comes from Ezekiel, when he talk of God taking away our stoney hearts and placing into us natural hearts.

Natural Hearts! Soft Hearts! These are life giving. They are hearts that feel emotion; anger, sadness, fear and happiness. They are hearts that give see beyond our own personal needs, wants and desires, and sees the larger picture.

Natural hearts are ones that forgive when we have been hurt; that look for hope in times of sadness; that trust in fear.

Natural hearts are ones that are free!

Each day, we must exercise those natural hearts, through prayer. Grace gives us the capacity to look inward, to see those harden parts in which we harbor resentment, in which we are only concerned about my stuff, my things, my rights…. Then to work on resolving them so that the hardness does not spread.

Fear is what hardens my heart. It had kept me from being engaged in others, and engaged in life. Each day in prayer, I have to hand my heart over to God, and trust in God. Each day, I have to realize, through Ps 95, that God is in control, and I am not. God is king over all the earth, and I am not.

To be honest, it is easier to do 30 minutes on a treadmill than to spiritually work on my heart. However, I understand it does me NO GOOD to have a beating heart, if I don’t have a loving heart.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way of peace.
Come into the brokenness of our lives and our land
with your healing love.
Help us to be willing to bow before you in true repentance,
and to bow to one another in real forgiveness.
By the fire of your Holy Spirit, melt our hard hearts
and consume the pride and prejudice which separate us.
Fill us, O Lord, with your perfect love, which casts out our fear,
and bind us together in that unity
which you share with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

from The United Methodist Book of Worship

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