Did you realize that the heart was the first organ to form in your body? And it began forming within twenty-one days of conception! There are some amazing pictures of first heartbeats in a video called "Life before birth in the womb" which you can access here.
Before we had a brain, stomach or lungs, we had a heart. Our hearts were the first gift God gave us. Our first act of stewardship is to be good caretakers of our hearts. Our bodies need them to keep beating strong. Our world does too.
In our worship series we have thought about practices of healthy heart care, physical and spiritual. The heart is a metaphor for the center of life. But think about this basic understanding of your heart. It does not exist for itself. The heart's sole purpose is to take the resources it receives (oxygenated blood) and see that it gets distributed (pumped) to the rest of the body. In other words the heart serves to serve.
No wonder the heart is a great spiritual metaphor. We all serve to serve. That is why God made us. Sunday we will learn ways to serve others. We all are called to make a difference, but that difference is never inwardly focused. It must be directed toward the rest of the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is directed toward the world, (Remember, this is why Martin Luther started a Reformation - because the Church had turned inward) and the mission of the church starts with individual hearts.
Next Sunday, November 12, we will consider this analogy of the heart's purpose a little further as we have opportunity to pledge our support to St. Luke's in the coming year. We will learn about our budget and plans for ministry in 2018. We will be moved by the difference our giving has made in 2017. And we will be encouraged to evaluate all God has given us in preparation for this sacred act of dedication. I invite you to begin praying about the difference God wants to make through your life in the coming year. This Sunday we focus on where we want to serve, then next week how we hope to give. The act of writing a commitment of our talent and treasures on a card and placing it in a basket is like giving our heart. There is nothing more sacred and significant than the one Sunday a year when we all fill out commitments together and place them at the altar. It's a way of saying to God, "my heart is with you." As the psalmist declared, "Blessed are those who...seek God with all their hearts."
As we get ready for a wonderful Sunday ahead and then our Commitment Sunday next week, I want to offer this prayer. I encourage you to use this in addition to your daily devotional we gave out in week one.
Loving God, thank you for blessing me. Encourage me to begin each day with that truth, I am blessed! Help me realize and claim all the gifts you have put in my charge. Encourage me to see my delight in life coming from what I can share with and do for others rather than what more I want you to do for me. As I take inventory of my gifts, guide me in considering ways I can give back. Help me grow in my generosity, and in my trust in you as my Provider. You are a Good God and life gets better as I share more and more of your goodness. Amen.
See you Sunday,