FROM THE MANSE
is nearly upon us and this is often a time to send a card or phone those
we rarely contact. It is always nice to receive a card or listen to a
familiar voice on the phone, but have you ever picked up the phone to ring
someone only to find an answering machine at the other end?
I do that often. Perhaps you replaced the receiver with a sense of
disappointment. Did you feel let down by your friend. Why wasn't she
there? Where was she? Perhaps you felt a sense of frustration welling up.
You may have had an important message to convey or important matters to
discuss and only she could give the advice you sought. But she wasn't
there! Yet, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, her voice was
there. But what use was her voice when it was she who was needed?
before such gadgets as answering machines were invented people were able
to do that - to be present in voice only. Nowhere is this seen so clearly
as in the case of worship. Christ said of the Pharisees: "These
people honour God with their lips, but their heart is far from him".
can be present in church in voice only, and so their worship of God
becomes mere lip-service. We all know people who sometimes put on a phoney
pious voice - they are no better than answering machines. The most
important element is missing - the heart.
applies not only to worship but to any meeting or gathering of people,
especially at public functions and formal occasions.
People are there, yet not all there. You may speak with someone but
you don't communicate. You are face to face, yet you never really meet.
different real presence is! The heart is in it, and the words flow from
there. For words to ring true, they must be spoken from the heart. If they
come only from the lips they will have a hollow sound. And while they may
be clever, they will never convince or inspire.
the word of forgiveness for instance. If it doesn't come from the heart,
what use is it? It will not set the offender free. And the word of peace.
If it is not spoken from the heart, can it bring peace? And the word of
welcome. You may open the door of your house to me with kind words, but
unless you make room for me in your heart I am still a stranger to you. It
is only with the heart that we can speak rightly. And a presence without
the heart is like a fireplace without a fire. Cold.
we are at church on a Sunday, what is the quality of our presence? How
much of our heart is in what we say? And after worship, do we try to put
the Word of God into practice in our life? No one but ourselves can answer
this Easter season, may you hear God's word of forgiveness and peace and
welcome through his Son, spoken from the heart, and may you respond in
like manner, with the devotion of your heart.
friend and minister, Janet.