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You Found the Wandering Heart!

During Lent in The Summit we will be following the journey of Peter and his wandering heart as he walks with Jesus towards the cross. This will also be the focus of our churchwide and youth Sunday School classes. As we follow Peter's footsteps, we'll also meditate on the lyrics of the beloved hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Each week during Lent you'll be able to find this heart wandering around the church.  When you find it, the QR code will take you right here for a weekly devotional.  As an added bonus, if you find Pastor Anne and tell her where you found the Wandering Heart, she'll have a special treat for you! We hope this Lent this series will help you tune your heart to sing God's praise. Blessings on your journey!

- Pastor Anne

Week 3 - "Praise the Mount"

Matthew 16:13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Who do you say that Jesus is?  It's easy to take our belief in Jesus for granted.  We live in the suburban south, in a culture that is predominantly Christian, at least culturally.  We can go through our days not thinking much about what it means to proclaim that Jesus is the messiah, the son of the Living God. But I think there is power in naming our belief out loud.  It causes us to think about what Jesus' saving power actually means in our everyday lives.  How has Jesus rescued you lately?  How has Jesus brought you peace? How has Jesus freed you?  And beyond our own personal relationship with Jesus, how do we see Jesus at work in the world? Spend some time this week thinking about these questions.  Write down your answers. Share them with a friend.  Experiment with talking about your belief in Jesus with someone new.  Your confession in Christ has power.  Don't be afraid to say it out loud.  

Week 2 - "Rescue Me From Danger"

Luke 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Read this poem by Rev. Sarah Speed:

Rescue Me

I’d rather not need rescue.

I’d prefer a five-step plan

and a quick-fix solution.

I’d prefer stubborn insistence

over honest vulnerability,

because rescue requires

asking for help.

Rescue names

the rising water.

Rescue sees

the tired, treading feet.

Rescue feels

the swell of the wind

and the rain at a slant.

But when the floor falls out

and the world is on fire

and my small hands

cannot fix the hurt welling in me,

the prayer that slips out

is rescue


rescue me.

When Peter finds himself surrounded by wind and waves he is at his most vulnerable.  He begins to focus on all the things around him that are causing him to sink instead of the one who can rescue him.  So often we find ourselves too focused on the chaos of our lives and look right past the things and the One who can calm the waters.  We are in good company with Peter, who reminds us that when we call out to Jesus he will always be there to rescue us.  What do you need to be rescued from right now? What does our world need to be rescued from?  This week let's let that prayer slip out of our hearts: Jesus, rescue us!

Week 1 - "Jesus Sought Me"

Luke 5:1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Peter’s first response to Jesus’ call on his life is to question his own worth.  He cries out, “I am a sinful man!”  But Jesus meets him right where he’s at and doesn’t ask him to be anyone other than who he already is.  When I was young I used to think Jesus telling Peter that he would be catching people was a bit gruesome and puzzling.  After all, fish don’t want to be caught and the end point for the fish is not good news.  But now I understand that the metaphor was less about reaching new people with the gospel and more about who Peter was. When Jesus says to Peter that from now on he will catch people, what he is saying is “Peter, I see you.  I know you are a fisherman.  I know you aren’t rich or powerful or a religious expert. I know you have doubts and you aren’t perfect. And I don’t need you to change any of that. I don’t you need you to stop being a fisherman. I need you to be a fisherman for me. I’m calling you just as you are.” 

Jesus knows every nook and cranny of our hearts.  There is no pulling a fast one on God.  Yet I believe Jesus calls each and every one of us, not in spite of who we are, but because of who we are.  We don’t have to be perfect.  We don’t have to have it all together or be certain of everything we believe.  We don’t have to look like a “proper Christian” or know all the “right” theological answers.  We just have to be willing to follow Jesus. He’ll lead us in the right direction. 

Ash Wednesday

Each year during Lent, we have the opportunity to take on an intentional practice that will guide us toward repentance and deepen our relationship with God.

For some of us this will mean a season of fasting. We’ll give up something, sweets/meat/social media/etc., in order to focus our attention on scripture and prayer. For others of us, Lent is a time to take on a new spiritual practice or experiment with new modes of prayer.

As you consider what your Lenten practice will be, consider the areas God is wanting to grow in you.  Are there places you have felt God’s nudging but you have been ignoring?  Are their dreams or passions you have been setting by the wayside for a time when you have less on your plate? 

Let us also remember that the purpose of Lent is not self-flagellation, but to grow in love and to become more Christlike. It is easy for us to get carried away when we turn our focus towards the parts of us that need to be changed.  We can be so hard on ourselves and a season that is meant for growth can become a trap of self-loathing. One of my favorite phrases of poetry is from Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese.  It says:

"You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knew

For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves."

Remember those words, remember that Lent is not about achieving perfection and transcending your humanity.  It’s actually the opposite.  It’s about letting your imperfections lead you to God.  You just have to let the soft animal of your body follow the path of love. So let us repent in this spirit, knowing that we are not alone on this journey through the wilderness. Love goes with us.

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