Open Heart Surgery
2 Corinthians 6: 1-13
1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.
Why does anyone travel? To find ourselves? To open our eyes to the world, other people, cultures and environments (either continents away or, just as startlingly, a few miles away)?
How about to open our hearts?
I used to live and work on an intentional Christian community Scargill Movement, a retreat centre in the Yorkshire Dales. It was a place where people came on their journeys. They would rest with us a while, sometimes near the beginning, sometimes near the end. It was a privilege to watch, over the years the opening of hearts as people experienced new things in between visits and through hard work and with God and grace grew into the people they hoped one day to be.
As a member of that community, welcoming these tired and enlivened folk we learned quickly that you needed to have an open heart. We had to welcome the strangers, even if we were unsure of them at first. We had to trust that the community would look after us as we looked after the travellers. I learned to have a vulnerability about me, opened up to be amazed, to be strong, to be flexible with the changing winds.
Living back outside the community I have closed off some of this open heart to protect myself from some of the harshness of city life. I know though, that Paul is right when he urges the Corinthians. To go on a journey you need an open heart, like children, to be awed and changed and to grow into the people that we hope to be when we finish our journey and go home.
My heart is mine but I’d like it to be yours too.
Please help us to open up and be ready to learn and change as you send us new lessons and adventures.
Strengthen us for the road ahead.
Help us to be ready and trust in you.