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Cultivating: The Intent of the Heart

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You can watch the video of Pastor Kris’ reflection, Cultivating: The Intent of the Heart, HERE.

Cultivating and letting go. This is our theme for the next 6 weeks. We will be reflecting on what God is cultivating during these days of inbetweeness. The past year has been really Lent-y, full of grief and ashes. In fact, in many ways, it seems like Lent 2020 (when we first went into full social distancing mode and moved worship online) never ended.

A few weeks ago, I shared 8 faith practices with you from the Abbey of the Arts. This is an online abbey which encourages “transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts.”[1]

Each of these faith practices can inform how, and where, God is leading us to cultivate… and to let go. Throughout Lent we will be reflecting on how we live, as people who follow Jesus, can bring new life. Today our focus is Radical Hospitality. This practice encourages us to:

“Commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. Recognize that when we make space inside our hearts for the unclaimed parts of ourselves, we cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.”[2]

The stranger within, and the stranger without.

As we continuing living into a time of climate extremes, economic disparities, and a global health crisis, what does radical hospitality look like out on the streets?

What about within our own lives? In our very being? Are you being gentle with yourself as we continue to physically distances ourselves, trying to stay warm and not too overwhelmed by the winter weather?

How are you holding God in your heart?


Now… when you have a really good story to tell, you don’t just share it one time. You repeat it. Thus, as I listened to Jesus tell the story of the treacherous road from Jerusalem to Jericho this week, I envisioned him telling the story once again… to Mary and maybe a handful of other followers (because, of course, as we socially distance ourselves not many people can fit into Martha’s modest living room).

Masked. Six feet or more apart. Jesus begins…

“Who is your neighbor? Once, during the polar vortex of 2021, the heat was knocked out for millions of people. Water pipes froze, and burst. A mayor of a town in the impacted area posted on social media, “Let me hurt some feelings while I have a minute!! No one owes you are (sic) your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice!”[3] The next day, a high-ranking statesman was seen at an airport, his bags packed, leaving for a warmer climate as people in his state, “grappl(ed) with the fallout of (the) winter storm that crippled the state’s power grid.”[4]

At about that same time, volunteers were calling people in their homes checking in to see how they were doing. They encouraged people to go to warming shelters as needed. Others found their “neighbor” in the thousands of cold-stunned sea turtles who were washing up on shore. One person commented, “The love and support of people who just want to help things that can’t help themselves is overwhelming”[5] As the turtles are cared for during the deep freeze, volunteers are looking forward to the day they can witness the mass release of the animals back to the gulf. 

Jesus said, “Which of these, do you think, was a neighbor to the those who fell victim to the deep freeze, collapsed power grid, and water crisis? The listener said, ‘The ones who showed mercy.’ Jesus responded, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

This is it. God has given us a “to do list” of 3: Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself. A Holy Trinity of sorts. A Holy Trinity outlining what we can each to do give life… to yourself, to others… and joy to God.

Love God. Love neighbor. Love yourself.

The caution does arise if we do any one of these things in isolation. There must be a balance. An interweaving. Writing about the parable of the Good Samaritan, Martin Luther King, Jr., offered this understanding, “I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”[6]

If I do not stop to help, if we do not stop to help, what will happen?

In this question, love intertwines with compassion and radical hospitality. Beginning the season of Lent, how might we use these weeks to cultivate something new? What will resurrection look like for us, for the Church, for our community, in 2021?

We started to think about those questions this past week on Ash Wednesday. During the service we made time for a Zoom conversation around the question “What is God cultivating?”

In Zoom and on Facebook responses included:

“Seeds of revival”

“Healing and wholeness”

“Hope that going back to ‘normal’ is a new and improved normal after COVID”

Another commented, “Perseverance”

And someone else said, “Patience while we wait for spring and for ‘herd immunity’”

Yet another, “Hoping to regain my optimism”

There were also these comments:

“A greater appreciation of creation and the joy of time spent outdoors”

“Seeds of reunion with loved ones”

And for our community:

“A place for affordable housing in a context of a community where all can share and contribute”

“A greater understanding of all the gifts we can share with each other”

And finally:

“May we all come out of our Covid-time as better and love-changed people”

God is purposefully planting. May we become love-changed people. Recognizing that when we make space inside our hearts for the unclaimed parts of ourselves, we cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.

That is it—God’s Radical Hospitality.

May we cultivate THAT seed in our hearts.

~ Pastor Kris

Reflection on Luke 10:25-42 offered February 21, 2021

[1] “Monk Manifesto,” Abbey of the Arts, July 7, 2020, https://abbeyofthearts.com/about/monk-manifesto/.

[2] Adopted from “Monk Manifesto,” Abbey of the Arts, July 7, 2020, https://abbeyofthearts.com/about/monk-manifesto/.

[3] Matt Young, “Tough-Guy Texas Mayor Tells Residents ‘Fend for Themselves’ and Resigns,” Chron (Houston Chronicle , February 17, 2021), https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Colorado-City-mayor-Tim-Boyd-electricity-resigned-15956559.php.

[4] Steve Peoples, “AP Source: Cruz on Vacation in Mexico as Storm Slams Texas,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, February 18, 2021), https://apnews.com/article/ted-cruz-mexico-vacation-amid-storm-b0cdc326db95bf25d93de9e877e05862.

[5] Rachel Treisman, “Volunteers In Texas Are Saving Thousands Of Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles From The Storm,” NPR (NPR, February 17, 2021), https://www.npr.org/2021/02/17/968719492/volunteers-in-texas-are-saving-thousands-of-cold-stunned-sea-turtles-from-the-st.

[6] Martin Luther King, Jr, “A Quote from Strength to Love,” Goodreads (Goodreads), accessed February 16, 2021, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/937813-on-the-parable-of-the-good-samaritan-i-imagine-that.