It was December 24th last Sunday, the day of Christmas Eve, and we gathered in the morning before worship (the morning worship was Advent themed). For many gathered it was the beginning of a couple services held on Christmas Eve! And as the conversation nearly immediately turned to the check-in we opened with prayer.
And then we talked. The homework had been to consider if love does indeed cover all offenses or if it does not. There was talk about individual or collective forgiveness, forgiving children, forgiving those who hurt or harm children. There was the reading of the text (Proverbs 10:12) out of the Message paraphrase,
Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.
And there was the honesty that the assignment was hard — or perhaps more than the assignment itself, to believe that love covers all was hard. The confession we don’t always get it right — and the reality that we cannot do this (forgive, believe love covers all) on our own. There were the mentions of people who forgave for acts that were unforgivable. There was the desire that people would repent before the forgiveness — and the challenge that Christ never waited for our own repentance before being born or heading to the cross. We even were honest about the often daily need of love (God) to help us look past (or forgive) offenses that can come weekly (or daily) from those we continue to be in relationship with!
Then we turned (as we do!) to a selection of scripture, Proverbs 7:1-3. We sat seeking to listen to what the Holy Spirit was highlighting. There were some questions about Jewish practices of dress and affixing Scripture to their body, and there was the observation that in the keeping of God’s commandments life is found — which is HARD! And as we listened to writing that was nearly touchable in the way the words painted pictures to engage we heard this quote from Anne Lamott (from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)
There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.
What beautiful imagery! And a perfect way to frame the homework for this week — to write scripture on the tablet of our own hearts. The question was asked if the scripture must be from Proverbs, and the answer is no it does not have to be. The invitation is to write scripture on the tablet of our hearts and see what happens (and see how exactly we do that!) So — Merry Christmas & happy writing!
In the joy of Christmastime!
~ Rev. Sabrina Slater