There are a lot of weddings around at the moment. I have attended one as a guest, and have officiated at two, with another towards the end of this month. These couples will all enjoy the formal legal status of being married. It is a thrill to hear “husband and husband” or “wife and wife” being pronounced by the registrar. But long before our relationships were given any legal status, they were given validity by the heart. In fact, unless we know someone “by heart”, the legal recognition is pointless and invalid. We find that special someone, something about them starts to resonate within us, and slowly, or quickly, we begin to know them by heart, and fall in love.
Within my own family, and within our church family, we have children who are adopted. It is a huge labour of love for a couple to decide to adopt a child. The process is long and arduous to even be approved for adoption. Then the matching process begins, which may be heartbreaking, as couples may put themselves forward for several children, before being finally matched with the little ones who will most benefit from their loving care. Once again, the heart needs to be engaged in this most delicate of match making. These children need to be known by heart, they need to be loved and understood, nurtured and held safe, as they grow and develop through the years. No judge offering legal status can make a parent love a child. It is the work of the heart that turns adults and children who don’t know each other into a loving family unit.
As we travel ‘In the Footsteps of Moses’ this month during worship, it is worth reminding ourselves that God also requires us to know God by heart:
‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.’ (Deut 6:4-6). As people of faith, we feel God, we feel what is right and wrong, as well as knowing God through study and discussion, or intellectually knowing the right thing to do. What and who do you ‘know by heart’? Give thanks for that today.