Sermon for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Selena Gomez’ song, “The Heart Wants What it Wants” looks like a song about love and betrayal and how “There’s a million reasons why I should give you up,” except that – and this is the refrain – “the heart wants what it wants.” “The Heart Wants What it Wants” looks like a song about love and betrayal and not giving up and “the heart [wanting] what it wants,” but Gomez’ song is really a song about Lent.
Gomez’ song is about Lent because, like the song, Lent is about love – Lent is about opening ourselves to how much God loves us: which is absolutely, infinitely and without conditions. Like Gomez’ song Lent is about betrayal – daily we betray that love (or, at least I do). Like the song Lent is about not giving up – even though we may have messed up, we are not to give up. And Lent is about letting the heart want what it wants; letting the heart want what it really wants, deep-down.
I’m going to be very bold in saying this… I know what your heart really wants, deep down. To get at what your heart – all of our hearts – really want, we’re going to go back to St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, in 4th century Cappadocia. One day Gregory was studying the scriptures and looking even further back in history, to the creation of the world. As he prayed about Genesis chapter 2, Gregory imagined that the very first thing we human beings saw when we opened our eyes was the face of God, inches away from ours, having just breathed into us the breath of life. Noting this, Gregory said that all human beings, in what we now might call our “ancestral memory,” remember this first vision of God. And Gregory says that all of us – all human beings – yearn to return to that vision, to once again see God’s eyes looking into ours, to have God’s arms embracing us, to feel God’s breath on our cheek. All our life, said Gregory, is a journey to try to return to that first vision and experience of God. That’s what our hearts want, really; your heart, my heart, all human hearts.
In Lent we often take up a discipline or practice, to try to get at what our heart wants. Whatever discipline we may take up this Lent, keep in mind that the purpose of Lent is to let our heart want what it wants. (Lent is not about losing weight; it’s not about doing something merely because we think we’re “supposed” to do it.) Lent is about love – opening ourselves to God’s passionate, abundant love for us. Lent is about coming to terms with betrayal – I know I betray that love. Lent is about not giving up – how, in spite of the fact that we’ve messed up, we don’t give up. And Lent is about letting our heart want what it wants: doing whatever it is we need to do (or not do) that our heart might be freed, opened, to receive what it really wants: an intimate, loving, faithful, close relationship with Jesus Christ.
I wonder, this Lent how might you let your heart want what it wants?