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"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," form the words for our guided meditation this Sunday, from Luke 12:34. In everyday language, it's close to saying "where your heart is set," or "having your heart set on something."
Talking about our hearts this way is really talking about what is valuable, what our bodies and emotions and, yes, our whole selves feel attached to as something precious. The everyday phrase "having your heart set on something" even helps us think through the mental image that the phrase gives us: you can imagine, literally, your heart outside of your body and set on something like a mug on a counter or a lamp on a desk. If the desk gets suddenly pulled away, the lamp crashes to the floor.
For parents with young children, caring for them, helping them build up endurance amidst dashed hopes is a really common occurrence. With age and time, the stakes grow higher for enduring the potential of a sudden crash with a heart precariously perched on something: especially something that you've invested intensely in.
Jesus says, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," and these words are a starting point for self-examination: what, in fact, have I set my heart precariously on? What am I really treasuring? Whose attention and approval? Which goals and dreams? Which relationships near and far away? What am I setting my heart on that isn't truly, as I come to reflect, worth treasuring?
The spiritual life, the life of Christian faith and of many other traditions or paths, asks these questions and gives time for the questions to grow in focus and attention. Eventually, the words of the question may transform the heart.
"Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15
"Take care." It's a phrase often heard in daily conversation, frequently in the context of saying goodbye to someone.
Whether it's a friend going into a difficult situation or facing a problem, and you expect to see them again soon on the other side. Whether these words convey the depth of care you feel about someone you may not see again for a long time at the time of a goodbye. Whether you sense that someone could be in some kind of danger, and all you find to say is "take care" : these simple words carry a subtle yet strong range of meanings.
Jesus in these words invites us the listener to take care for our lives. A deeper sense of taking care than that of a feeling in a passing moment, but for reflectively taking in and appreciating what life truly consists of. Do we live as though our lives consisted only in the things we hold on to, and hoard, and keep? What is life, if it is not at first a gift we receive, and at last we will one day let go?
Our spiritual exercises on Sunday July 31 will invite participants to "take care for one's life" in movements that convey a feeling of gratitude for life, and for releasing the feeling of hoarding and grasping.
What are Spiritual Exercises at United Lutheran Church?
A fifteen-minute time for breathing exercises, guided meditation and movement. Our wider culture and society longs for spiritual connection in ways that are experienced, embodied, and practiced. These exercises are meant to serve this wider need. We invite and welcome people of any religious persuasion, of all faiths or none, to join us for spiritual practice.
For Christians and for members of ULC, you're invited to think of the exercises as a "warm-up" for the worship service which begins at 9:30. The words for the guided meditation come from either the Scripture passages for that Sunday or from the worship service (the liturgy). Experiencing these texts in an embodied way will help prepare those who stay for worship for a richer engagement with the texts in the sermon and prayers. For "Spiritual Exercises" the texts selected will emphasize not specific Christian belief, but more general themes, postures, movements, feelings, and values that relate to a wide audience seeking spirituality.
If you are walking by in the north-east Oak Park area on a Sunday morning and looking for something like this, then "Spiritual Exercises" is for you!
Spiritual exercises will be led together by Ole Schenk, minister, and Cacie Miller, music director, both staff members of ULC, or a guest leader.
These blog posts for each coming week will be written by either Ole Schenk, Cacie Miller, or a guest leader.