Firebox 2: Love and Self Control – 24 hours of Worship, Portsmouth Cathedral 29/30 Oct

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI1ncFWGFdw

Ritual:

A large bucket of stones and a handful of sponges. A large pot of water.

Love can be as soft as sponges, or feel as hard as stones. It can make us feel warm and enriched. It can frustrate us, especially when love is painful, when love is unreturned, or when the love someone has for us prevents us from following our own selfish desires: the parent who won’t let us out all night is the one who loves us.

Pick up a stone. Cradle it in the palm of your hand. Feel its smoothness and its broken edges.

Examine it closely. It’s been shaped by centuries of waves and weather, damaged by explosion, by digging and building. Yet here it is, in your hand, in this field. In this place. In your possession.

It has been shaped by experience, good and bad; just as we are shaped by our experiences of life, of love.

I will take your heart of stone, the prophet told the words of God to the people, and give you back a heart of flesh.

Our experiences can make our hearts as cold as this stone, as tough as rock. Emotions can bounce off of it and nothing can touch it.

Do we think this makes us strong? Do we think that by putting up a strong shield against people we’ll save ourselves from being hurt?

Do you really want a heart of stone?

I will take your heart of stone, and give you back a heart of flesh.

As you cradle this stone in your hand, pass onto it all those feelings of hardness in your life: those times when you have rejected others, been indifferent to their needs, their suffering. Let your selfishness coat this stone.

Now gently drop it into the water, and let it sink. It takes away with it those feelings, it’s toughness absorbs the tough things in your life, and the stream of living water which Jesus speaks of washes those feelings away.

I will take your heart of stone, and give you back a heart of flesh.

A heart of flesh is a heart which beats to the rhythm of the world, a heart of flesh is one which is open to the needs of those it meets. A vulnerable heart is one that is open to the love of God.

Take up a sponge. It is soft and yielding, it is flexible, pliable, responsive. It moves with you, and it moves with life. It is a heart which is open for God.

I will take your heart of stone, and give you back a heart of flesh.