Monday, July 25, 2011

A Firm and Fixed Heart

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and make melody.
Psalm 57: 7 Book of Common Prayer
 How did the psalmist do it, this fixing of the heart? (The fixing here is a steadfastness, not a repair job.) My heart has been all over the place lately, striving for gratitude and getting grumbling instead. Trapped in a heat-wave producing dome that has already taken the lives of some two dozen people in the Midwest, worried about my insurance and about job-juggling that’s about to get more complicated, pining for a vacation, my poor heart has been busy, but hardly fixed.
            As I thought about this, I remembered a collect (a prayer to gather our thoughts before worship begins) from the Anglican tradition. I’m putting it here in the old English, even though we don’t speak like this and my church uses the modern collects, just for the beauty of the language.

O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
           Clearly, the psalmist did not have the Book of Common Prayer handy. Perhaps the writer did know the key in this prayer, however. Love what God commands and desire God’s promises. Jesus summed up God’s commands as love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:36-39). I’m not so sure what God’s promises entail, but I’d opt to include one of my favorites—Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). If I think and act in a loving manner—hmm, which I wasn’t yesterday—and if I remember that God is present no matter what, then perhaps my heart will stabilize.

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