I have a heart problem. No, I don’t have a physical problem with my heart. The ticker is still working good. No, my heart condition is more like what we sang just a few minutes ago–a cold, a hard heart. My heart problems come from years of having my heart broken and wounded over and over again. So now I have a dis-eased, an un-easy heart, an unclean heart.
This heart condition is part hereditary–it passes from one generation to another. It’s cause is also environmental–meaning it develops from just living in this world. If you are ready for more bad news, here it comes. The thing about this condition, is that it is pervasive, and a little like a plague–affects everyone. No one is immune from this heart condition. We all suffer from heart problems.
Our hearts are wounded by wrongs done from the beginning,from jealousies, from misunderstandings, from the evil that we live and breathe in all around us. We have hearts wounded by shame and pain, by pride, and fear.
For me that is one of the gifts of these stories we’ve been reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, what was called the Old Testament. Our bible is not sanitized or rather edited to erase these heart problems. In these stories we often read about the worst of humanity . . . but the best of God.
Such is the case this morning. Last week we met the boy Samuel as he is called by God to be a prophet. Today, Samuel is anointing, again making God’s choice for a King.
A leader for the people. Now as I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t The Lord’s first try at this. No the people already had a king, a man by the name of Saul. But Saul well he hadn’t lived up to what God had intended. So the prophet Samuel, with the guidance of The Lord picks another.
The king will be David. King David is quite a character. Can you think of any stories about him? I know our Sunday School class last week looked at some stories– David and Goliath, David and Bathsheba, David and Jonathan, and David with others as well. In some of these stories David looks like he could be a good king, a courageous and loyal king. But In others, it’s the complete opposite. King David’s approval rating, especially with God, would match the numbers, the approval ratings, we have been giving our elected leaders lately.
Having said that, King David is most often considered a great king, a great leader of his people. And that must mean that what makes a good leader is not perfection, because King David like President Obama, Rand Paul, getting more local, Governor Walker, or even me. We’re not perfect. We all suffer from the same heart condition I began my sermon with you this morning.
Our hearts are not clean, are not pure, are not impeccable. So that probably isn’t what God is looking for when God looks at our hearts, when God calls us to lead. Dr. Brene Brown in her TED talk and her book, “Daring Greatly, How the Courage to be Vulnerable transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead”, asserts what we should be looking for in a leader, what we should be developing in others, and especially in ourselves is wholeheartedness. This wholeheartedness is a life of courage, compassion, and connection. And at the heart of that is being able to be vulnerable. As she writes: “wholeheartedness …at it’s very core is vulnerability and worthiness: facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks and knowing I am enough.” [pg 29].
King David was that kind of guy. He could take a stab at fighting the giant Goliath, and refuse to slaughter his one time friend, teacher, father-in law, and enemy King Saul. King David could dance wildly exuberantly as the Ark of the Covenant because he knew that no matter what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was his God too. That the promise that The Lord had made years and years ago was just as real for him as he lived and breathed. David could sing the words, pray to God to create in him a clean heart, to forgive him for the great sin of abusing his power to kill a husband to take his wife. King David was as we say now-a-days all in, because he trusted that God was all in for him and for the people too.
It is no surprise then that when we talk about Jesus, we talk about him as coming from the line of David. To look for a leader who was vulnerable, we don’t need to look much further. In Jesus, God gives up this all powerful stuff and becomes so completely vulnerable incarnate, in the flesh–born poor and homeless, becoming a refugee and immigrant. He doesn’t march around with armies and weapons. Guns, guts, and glory was not his way. He ate with sinners, touched the sick, spoke and taught women and foreigners. But most importantly he did this not as some experiment, like a science project, but because he cared, he loved, he opened himself up completely to grief, to betrayal, and ultimately to being executed on the cross and then raised to new life in the resurrection.
He did this not that we don’t have to, but to show us the way. So that we can also have the courage, the compassion to really connect. That’s really what Holy Communion is all about. It iS connection with God, but not just God, it is connection with one another, with all God’s children, with all God’s creation.
This is the healing that only God can give, a healing of our hearts. God creates in each and every one of us a clean heart, so that we can know, we can feel that we are completely loved, and made worthy, that we are loved, and lovable, that we belong. That is why each and every time we gather we are sent out with the words, Go in peace to do something, today it is proclaim or share the good news. You are made whole so that you can lead others to this gift. Because God calls us, with our heart conditions, our tired, trampled, broken hearts and God says to each one of us, “my child you are healed, I have created and will create again and again a clean heart, so that you may be for me, to yourself, and with others wholehearted. Amen.