While thinking about the coming of Easter, I was wondering how we can best prepare for it. These words in Matthew 24 struck me:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage up to the day when Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field, and one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill, and one will be taken and the other left...”
Doesn't this passage describe our society? We happily go on eating, drinking, and so on, no matter what is happening around us. But where is God? If God is not in the center, everything we do is in vain. Thinking about this, and about how we can put God back into our lives, to make them meaningful, I have come to a very simple answer: we must let our hearts be moved.
The central message of Good Friday is that we must die, as Jesus did, in order to be changed and resurrected. And that requires a movement of hearts. Wherever there is even one moved heart, it will affect and change the lives of everyone it touches. This movement has to start with me, with my heart. It cannot be something abstract or intellectual.
When our hearts are moved, we will be given the vision to see into the mysteries of God's kingdom, which is so much closer than we realize. God's kingdom is in every person! With moved hearts, we will begin to truly understand why Jesus died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again. With moved hearts, we will find Easter everywhere. We will be able to weep with a person who is weeping, and rejoice with one who is rejoicing.
Just yesterday my family rejoiced with a neighbor who was celebrating her 102nd birthday. The day before that, I read in the newspaper about a brave young man who had joined the Marines at 18 and gone to Iraq. Not long ago he returned home, weighed down by the horror of war. After struggling with depression and PTSD, he hanged himself. His parents found him in the basement of their own home. Only with a moved heart can one grieve with those facing such a terrible tragedy.
As a pastor, I am often asked, "What is your vision for our community?" Again, the only answer I have is this: we must pray for moved hearts. This is something every person can participate in. A movement of hearts will solve every problem, and meet every need.
Our prayer each morning should be that our hearts are moved and touched by the joys and sorrows of all those we meet in the course of the day. We should not miss any opportunity, but ask God for strength to share his love with every person we come into contact with.
Feeling the sorrows and joys of others instead of focusing on our own – that is what life is all about! And we need to bring this to our children, too. It's the only valuable education, for through it they will become true human beings, and find community with others.
Humans are communal beings. If we live alone, we go insane. But if we seek the hearts of those around us, it will eventually bring about the gathering of all peoples, as described in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: "Alle Menschen werden Brüder!" - All men will be brothers!
The words that follow this well-known line are just as significant: "Brothers, above the tent of heaven must live a Father who loves us all. World! Do you not know your own creator? Seek him, then, above the stars."
When we start looking to this Father for answers, instead of relying on our own strength, the Easter message-the promise of resurrection-will become alive for each one of us.