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April 7, 2015, 9:55 AM

Heart, Mind, Body, & Soul


Matthew 7:24-27                          Common English Bible
24 “Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. 25  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. 26  But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand.27  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”
 
Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul
 
The toe bone connected to the foot bone…the foot bone connected to the ankle bone…the ankle bone connected to the shin bone…the shin bone connected to the knee bone. And so on, and so forth. This is such a seemingly silly and simple song. Some know this song as the “Hip Bone Song,” and some as “Dem Bones.” Regardless, it is a fun song, easy to sing, and known by many, many people. The key word in the song is ‘connected.’ Everything is connected. Though the song has been coopted by the children’s music industry, it was originally an African American Spiritual, and much of African theology and philosophy is about the connectedness of life.
 
Everything within us is connected. We are a whole being—heart, mind, body and soul. When something happens in one part of us, all of our self is affected. When we are down with the flu, we are down in spirits as well. Under great stress we can experience headaches, develop ulcers. Anxiety produces an upset stomach and distracted thought. Grief wracks the entire body. Recovery from a traumatic injury leaves us disheartened, worried, and struggling with our faith. We are whole beings, exactly the way God created us. Note that Jesus commanded us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength, all our soul.
 
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone…the thigh bone connected to the hip bone…the hip bone connected to the back bone. This song, as I said a moment ago, is an African American Spiritual—“Dem Dry Bones.” It begins with “Ezekiel connected dem dry bones.” The song is about Ezekiel’s vision from the book named after him, chapter 37—the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. “Ezekiel connected dem dry bones, Ezekiel connected dem dry bones, Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones, Now hear the word of the Lord.”
 
Now hear the word of the Lord. That is the central message of Jesus’ parable of the Two Builders-the Two Houses. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…” This parable is the ending note for the long teaching in Matthew’s gospel often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. It begins with the wonderful Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers.” It has memorable teachings: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world…you don’t hide a lamp under a bushel basket but put it on the stand and it brings light to the whole house.” In this great sermon Jesus proclaims he has come to fulfill the Law, not destroy it. He gives directions for alms giving, praying and fasting, and gifts to his disciples what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” He instructs his followers not to worry, not to judge. He calls them to ask, to seek, to knock, and they will find. And he addresses our treasure, ‘for where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.’ Therefore, as he begins this final parable to culminate this great teaching, he states that everyone who hears ALL these things—the entire Sermon on the Mount—and puts them into practice is like a wise person who builds their house on the bedrock.
 
This image, this metaphor of building houses on solid foundations in not a new one. The Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Scriptures—what we call Old Testament—uses this image many times; books like Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. The metaphor of building a house is used to refer to building your life—your community life. The listeners of this great sermon, disciples and crowd, would have made the connection between Jesus’ parable and the scriptures of their faith. The scriptures called God’s people together to build their lives, their entire community, on the Law of God—the Torah. By using this imagery in his parable, Jesus calls for his followers, for us, to build our lives together on hearing his words, his teachings, and putting them into practice—embracing them, embodying them, living them with all we are—heart, mind, body and soul.
 
Jesus proclaims just prior to starting this parable, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus wants more than lip service. He points out that even those who ‘prophecy, expel demons, and perform deeds of power in Jesus’ name’ don’t cut it. Jesus wants more than going through the motions. Jesus wants us ‘all in.’ He calls us to build our lives on this foundation of hearing and doing—heart, mind, body and soul.
 
We are here this morning to worship and celebrate the One who went ‘all in’ for us. Jesus gave all of himself-heart, mind, body and soul—everything, to be with us, among us, to embrace our humanness, and restore our relationship, with God and one another. He seeks to pull us back from destructive paths, not just parts of us, all of us.
 
So where will we build our house together? Will we build it on hearing and doing? Will we build it on committing all that we are to living Jesus’ words and Jesus’ way? Will we commit all our heart, all our mind, all our body, all our soul? Or will we only give a part, which is really nothing at all…
 
because the toe bone connected to the foot bone…the foot bone connected to the ankle bone…the ankle bone connected to the shin bone…
 
The storms of life come. Water rage. Winds howl. They will beat against what we build.
 
Dem bones, Dem bones, Dem dry bones. Now hear (and do) the words of the Lord. Amen.

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