Finding God, self, and community in wild spaces. The better we know our wild neighbors the more we'll discover ourselves.
A vision informed by Henry David Thoreau’s interpretation of sauntering, Jesus’ understanding of neighbor, Aldo Leopold’s concept of thinking like a mountain, Rachel Carson’s prophetic voice and John Muir’s way of capturing the beauty and uniqueness of wild neighbors with words.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Gift of a Broken Heart Filled with Love

 Here is my sermon manuscript from this morning; I'm sharing it here because I believe it contains some things worth thinking about as we work to live into community with all that has life in Jesus' name in a way that is directed by the work and leading of the Spirit of God who lives in all of us.

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One of the most encouraging and inspiring things for me is to see people boldly responding to the call that God has given them in a way that their spiritual gifts are fully activated; like the way our friend Linda Grogan so kindly and generously gives of her time and energy to a number of people who just don’t have transportation; I’m thankful for Linda and she is not the only one. 

Romans chapter 12 shares with us that the Spirit gives gifts for doing certain things well; for prophesy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing kindness. 

1 Corinthians 12 shares with us that the Spirit gives gifts for serving in various capacities in the life of the church such as apostles (those who are sent), prophets (those who speak truth to power), teachers, doing miracles, healing, helping others, leading, and speaking in unknown languages.

When we consider what Paul tells us about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, that’s some pretty useful stuff right? It’s also a representative list, not an exhaustive list, because there are many ways in which the Holy Spirit equips people today in ways that are beyond the scope of the representative lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are recorded in these two chapters in the Bible.

Perhaps the greatest gift that the Spirit gives is the gift of a broken heart filled with love, clarifying for us the context within which we are to make use of the other gifts that the Spirit has given us.  

When I speak of a broken heart filled with love, what I mean is that the Spirit also gives gifts in the form of longings and direction...Paul, was a very gifted individual who possessed the gifts of leadership, teaching, and apostleship; and Paul was given the gift of a broken heart when he heard his call from God that he was to be sent to be an apostle to the Gentiles.
 
Peter was given the Gift of a broken heart when Jesus told him, “Peter, take care of my sheep.”

In the story of the Exodus, Moses was given the Gift of a broken heart when he received his call to lead the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land.

In the story of the great flood, Noah was given the Gift of a broken heart when he heard his call to build an Ark for the safety of his family and all of the animals.

Each of these individuals we read about in scripture received the Spiritual Gift of a broken heart filled with love and that is how God led them to engage in the specific call that God had given each.

...it’s important that as we lean into the Spirit’s lead we seek to understand the Gift of a broken heart that the Holy Spirit has for us...when we understand our Gift of a broken heart filled with love, the other gifts that the Holy Spirit gives will find good use. 

What good is it for me to understand that the Holy Spirit has given me the spiritual gift of leadership if I have no idea about the ministry context to which God calls me?

 Am I to lead a church, lead a business, or lead an army into war?

It is vitally important that each of us grows to understand the unique nature of the Gift of a broken heart that God has given us. The good news is that figuring that out is much simpler than you might think.

...when we feel and recognize the Holy Spirit breaking our hearts, filling our hearts with love and compassion for certain people and groups...that’s the Gift of a broken heart being given to you in that moment!

Have you ever felt a sense of love and of compassion for a particular person or group that instills in you a desire to help?

It’s like what happens when that Sarah McLaughlin song “in the arms of the angels” comes on during the SPCA commercials. If you’re like me, in that moment you feel a sense of love and compassion for those animals that makes you want to reach out and help. 

Sometimes when I think of the Spirit's Gift of a Broken Heart Filled with Love I think of a jelly-filled doughnut; when the doughnut is broken the jelly filling can't help but pour out everywhere! This seems to me a fitting metaphor for what happens when God breaks our hearts and fills them with love...the love is poured out in a Spirit-directed manner.

Often when we notice broken people in this world that move us to say things like “my heart goes out to them,” that is an experience of a broken heart filled with love.

We as the church have a responsibility to support each other as we respond to the Gift of a broken heart that the Holy Spirit gives.

And without fail that gift moves us to live in a way that is faithful to the Good News of the Kingdom of God and in so doing follow Jesus.

The Good News of the Kingdom of God is this, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19 and Is. 61:1-2)

The Holy Spirit’s Gift of a broken heart moves us, as Christ’s witnesses, to work for the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and the other Gifts of the Holy Spirit help to equip us for the unique Personal Mission Field to which we are called.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes the Spirit’s Gift of a broken heart is for a moment, sometimes for a season, and sometimes for a lifetime.

At this time, one of the Spirit’s Gifts of a broken heart to me has been to fill my heart with love for refugees at our southern US border. You don’t have to join me and others who feel that heart that is broken and filled with love for refugees, but we do have a responsibility to support each other, to build each other up with encouragement and prayer, and to not fight against each other because together we serve as Christ’s witnesses in this world.  

In the same way, not every member of our church is engaging in worship by serving those who live at Broad Acres, but Carol Delaney should know that she has our full support as she responds to the Spiritual Gift a broken heart that is filled with love for those living at Broad Acres that the Holy Spirit has given her. 

There are many ways that the members of our United Methodist Church of Wellsboro are responding to the Gift of a broken heart given by the Holy Spirit.

…Karen Reasinger in her service to those who’ve been admitted to the hospital…

...Maryann Fisher in her service to those held captive by the chains of addiction...

...Lory Albin as she works to give hope to those affected by suicide...

...Barb Williard as she partners with Oasis of Hope to put an end to human trafficking and offer hope to those trafficked...

There are those among us who are experiencing this Gift as hearts are broken and filled with love for those members of the LGBTQ community who are feeling rejected by their church at this time, for those whose hearts are broken and filled with love for all creatures and are moved to advocate that as a global community we work to remediate the current climate crisis, for those whose hearts are broken and filled with love for people who are minorities and are feeling isolated and struggling as they seek to find a space of belonging…

Yes hearts are breaking and filling with love for all the broken people, communities, and places of the world where the poor live in despair, where people are held captive, and where creatures of God are being oppressed.

What Gift of a broken heart has the Holy Spirit given you? Who does your heart break for? What people, groups, or communities has the Holy Spirit filled your heart with love for?

 If today you are feeling a Gift of a broken heart from the Spirit of God, I want to affirm that this is a gift...and perhaps the greatest gift is, that as we give ourselves to serve in these contexts, we will find Jesus there...and with that gift comes a cross...

Jesus said to his disciples, "I am leaving you with a gift; peace of mind and heart; and the peace I give is a gift that the world cannot. " (John 14:27)

Jesus also said to his disciples, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Jesus totally invested himself in the Gift of a broken heart that the Holy Spirit had given him, and a very special gift it was, as Jesus’ heart was broken and filled with love for the whole world that God loves; and the world rejected him because of it.

Those who do not understand and are blind to the Kingdom of God will fight against us as we respond to the Gift of our broken hearts that that the Holy Spirit has given us. 

There will always be those who make life hard for those who live for those on the margins...who make it a challenging task to live for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. There will always be those who, due to spiritual blindness, will reject others for “stirring the pot.”

If you have felt that way, or if you are feeling that way…

You are not alone...

We are not alone...

Trusting in Jesus, let us resolve to welcome the gifts that the Spirit gives, and partnering with God and each other give ourselves in service to others as we work for peace and justice in Jesus’ name.




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Action Step: Spiritual Gift of a Broken Heart
  
Who does your heart break for? (People group, individual, part of God’s world, etc.)

Who/what has the Spirit of God filled your heart with love for?

If you would not describe it in the same way, what words would you use to articulate the feeling of “a broken heart filled with love”?

Who/what has the Spirit of God given you special love for at this time in your life?

How will you respond to the Holy Spirit’s Gift of a Broken Heart to you?

2 comments:

  1. What a great sermon, Rich! I love the analogy of the jelly filled doughnut and the reference to Sarah McLaughlin song! When I read this I thought of how I have been spending time lately with a couple people who have Alzheimer’s or struggle with depression. I just did it because it seems like the right thing to do but your sermon made me notice that that is Jesus working Through me. What a blessing. Thank you

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