Annual Meeting Sunday: February 24, 2019
Sermon: The Inner Experience of the Heart
I would like to share with you this morning my experience at the Carmelite Monastery in Niagara Falls over this past week, and especially the retreat/workshop I attended called The Inner Experience of the Heart. What wonderful learning this was!
But first, I’ll tell you just a little bit about the monastery, built between 1894 – 1897, and established by the Carmelite Order of the Roman Catholic Church. The monastery sits high on the escarpment overlooking the horseshoe falls, and it is a large stone structure, four stories high, housing dormitories, guest rooms, meeting rooms, offices, dining room, and a beautiful main chapel with large, stain-glassed windows. At one time, the monastery was a seminary for priests and a high school, but it now functions primarily as a spiritual retreat centre, called The Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre. I expected to see nuns, but they no longer live there, and today there are four priests who live on the premises year round serving the spiritual needs of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Daily mass is offered, and throughout the week and weekends, there are many retreats, workshops, conferences, and times of respite available. I didn’t know about this monastery, and learned of it when asking my East Perth ministerial group – where do you go for retreats, or workshops? This is one place they suggested, and I’m so glad they did!
The workshop I took was called The Inner Experience of the Heart. The Bible mentions the heart almost 1,000 times, teaching that the heart is the spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell. We were invited to learn about prayer from the heart, and also to explore the latest scientific discoveries of the “intelligence” of the heart. Now this intrigued me. I didn’t know what to expect! But what wonderful learning we were given!
We know that our earth has a magnetic field surrounding it, but did you know that our heart has its own electromagnetic field, as well as our brain, and our whole body? Which magnetic field would you say is stronger – the heart’s or the brain’s? Most of us would say the brain. We think this is where our strongest drives and motivations come from. But the heart is stronger. The heart is 100x stronger electrically than the brain, and the heart is 5,000x stronger magnetically than the brain. (These scientific facts come from a website called The Institute of Heart Math.) The heart and the brain each has its own neuro-intelligence, its own neurons, which carry messages back and forth between them, but the heart is stronger. Our heart can override or influence our brain.
Which puts a different perspective on reading the Bible, and on our prayer life. The hundreds of Bible verses which speak about the heart now give us a different viewpoint. Our heart is strong, stronger than the mind. Two of my favourite Bible verses are Proverbs 3: 5, 6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We are to trust God with our heart, and not rely on our own understanding or insights (the mind). “Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding…for wisdom will come into your heart,” Proverbs 2: 2, 10. “Seek the Lord your God and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul,” Deuteronomy 4: 29. This new heart learning puts a different perspective on our prayer life as well as better understanding the Bible’s heart verses. When we pray from the heart, we know we influence our brain, which influences our thoughts, our emotions and our feelings.
An Exercise to Pray From the Heart:
– place your fingers over your heart, and put your other hand away from your body. This is so that your brain doesn’t interfere.
– you can close your eyes if you wish
– now think of these four attributes: love, gratitude, care, compassion
– these four characteristics or attributes influence our heart’s neurons and messages to the brain
– we can influence our thoughts, and our state of well-being, thinking of these four attributes
– we change our state of being from anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, dissatisfaction, anger, or despair (incoherence), to a state of peace, joy, hope, kindness, surprise, gratitude, wonder and cheerfulness (coherence)
Our heart’s messages of love, gratitude, care and compassion influence our brain. We become calm and restful (the Alpha deep relaxation wave). Our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, feelings and desires are channelled into a positive state of well-being. Praying for just 3 – 5 minutes this way can have a positive effect for up to 6 hours! Which influences our body’s magnetic field, a radius of up to 3 metres! We affect other people positively when we are held in this Alpha wave/coherent state of mind. Our magnetic field interacts and overlaps with others, which can influence them and the environment, creating coherence.
On this our Annual Meeting Sunday, when we celebrate our church family and church life, looking forward to a prosperous and happy 2019, I can’t offer you a better message. Isn’t this what Jesus teaches? Love, gratitude, care and compassion? Isn’t this what our Christian faith is grounded upon? The love of God, the gratitude we feel for God, the gratitude we feel for Jesus His Son coming to us, and offering us his salvation, God’s care for us, God’s compassion for us, which Jesus exemplified and taught us to share with one another? We are commanded to love each other, care about each other, have compassion for each other, and value each other with gratitude. When we seek God with our hearts, we will attain God’s wisdom (Proverbs 2: 2, 10). God will direct our paths. And guide our minds. When we let our hearts take charge, and concentrate on the Godly attributes of love, gratitude, care and compassion, we will be richly blessed. Godly blessed. And we will richly bless each other. May it be so! Thanks be to God. Amen.