‘What happens to the heart?’ is a question posed by the late Leonard Cohen in a recently released song. His haunting words lead me to reflect on what it is that strengthens and nurtures our heart. Using the heart as a metaphor for our deepest experience of humanity and life I am led to reflecting on my heart and Advent and Christmas.
The Christmas season includes the reality of human experience. We cannot pretend. People are living with the impact of bushfire, storms and drought. Australia’s First Peoples are on a long journey to feel heard and understood after offering the ‘Statement from the Heart’ to us all. At the same time others also tell stories of joy, discovery, achievement and hope.
Such experiences are added to, when one considers our overseas partners facing conflict in South Sudan, drought in Zimbabwe, and political tension in other settings. We also hear of people coming to faith and new churches being planted.
How in all of this do we care for our ‘heart’? One possibility may be to use the words of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) and allow these words of hope nurture and renew us. Mary celebrates with confidence the coming actions of God and the hope she has for the world. Her rejoicing flows from her personal experience of God and leads to a telling of, and confidence in, what God will do. This is summed up in the statement that ‘God will remember his mercy and his promise to Abraham’.
This hope, generated out of promise of blessing and linked to confidence in the consistency of God’s goodness, is something that we can focus on. Undercutting all the complexity of our world is the gift of a baby – God is with us. Mary’s hope is fulfilled. Our hearts are lifted, renewed and healed.
May this gift of goodness and grace bring joy in your heart this Christmas season.