Open your heart. I’ve been grinding my teeth a lot lately about this whole Ten Commandments debate and the entire church and state issue. I stayed up past 2 a.m. on Friday relishing a debate with a friend on the subject. The sermon this morning focused on opening your heart and getting past the tradition and selfishness of seeing things your way.
Initially I took much of the sermon to be backing me up. I feel like I’ve done that a lot lately, heard what I wanted to hear in a sermon. That’s a dangerous way to approach God. And while much of the sermon did seem to back up my point (especially the text, Mark 7:1-23 where Jesus rips into the Pharisees for honoring human tradition over God’s law: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” [Mark 7:6, NRSV]), I may have missed something.
The focus of the sermon was how our Associate Priest had been so worked up over unfair dealings at his other job that it was causing him stress-related health problems. When he simply let things go, he found that it wasn’t that bad. The lesson here is that I probably need to calm down a bit. It’s not that I’m having stress-related health problems, but I am so eager to dive into this issue that it’s a bit fanatical. It’s an important issue and worth debating, but not to the point that I should relish finding faults I can jump on. Now I’m reminded of the sermon I heard two weeks ago, which extolled the virtues of unity, despite how intensely we may disagree. Focus on the Family may have blacklisted me, and we may completely disagree on a number of issues, but God still calls us to unity. I’m being just as much the Pharisee, if not more so, when I point out and triumph over the flaws of others.