Monday, September 24, 2012

Thinking about the words, about the heart

As Americans, we like to focus a lot upon the heart, upon what our innermost feelings are, upon what we actually think.  It's part of modern American culture -- but it's a part that makes some things in the church harder to understand.

We know that we can't judge each other's hearts -- I'm sure you've heard that phrase often.  But what we can and often do is look at a person's words.

I will go back to the wedding well one more time.  I was at a wedding - I officiated at a wedding.  Why did I do so?  Had I judged their hearts to make sure that they were really in love?  Nope.  Not at all.  In fact, that's not the point at all.  I didn't worry about the emotion of love or the truth of their hearts -- I paid attention to one thing.

What they said. 

And that's what I directed the folks to listen to as well -- as they have given their vows, I pronounce them to be husband and wife.  On the basis of what?  Their... vows.  Their words.

Or consider Confirmation -- what is that?  Words.  Or the installation of a pastor -- words.  Or even Confession and Absolution - on the basis of this... this what?  This, your confession.  This, your words.

Everything in the Church revolves around words - be that the Word of God which gives and creates life and faith, or be it the words of our response.  We see things through the lens of words.  So no, I cannot judge your heart - but I can hear your words, and I will speak God's Word of Law and Gospel, God's No and God's Yes, in accordance with what you have spoken.

Which is why we sing, "O Lord, open my lips" -- because without Him, all our words would be but horrible dross.

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