Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

One of my favorite scripture passages is Psalms is 51, verse 10 that says:  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

We need a renewal of our hearts, a renewal of Good Old Fashioned American Compassion, those strong hearts that made a social contract in the first place.

These budget cuts that have already happened, and the ones that have been proposed for Fiscal Year 2016, cut out our hearts, as a people.  They degrade our humanity.  They make us weak, and afraid, and defensive.

But I pray this morning the Governor, his staff, and our representatives and senators, will wake up to a renewal of their brave, American hearts, and dare to protect and even expand the services to the least among us – those who have no other way to live.

Brother Rauner, you say that you have to fix this broken system that was given to you.

That you will bear the insults and the anger, and that you don’t care about being re-elected.

That you will sacrifice yourself to right the wrongs of previous administrations.

But the problem with your sacrifice, is that it is a sacrifice on the wrong cross.  It’s the wrong cross, Brother Rauner.

The cross I’m talking about was never about cutting social programs or cutting taxes for the wealthy and removing things we’ve already achieved as compassionate Americans –

I thought our country was the land of the free, the home of the brave.

I thought we were moving forward, by imagining a future that implies greater investment in education and infrastructure, and taking bold risks together to sacrifice what we have in order to share it for the sake of everyone.

That’s the cross I’m talking about.  It’s the cross of grace.  It’s the cross of justice.  It’s the cross of compassion.  It’s the cross of courageous renewal –

That kind of renewal comes with the courage to – and I know you can’t bring yourself to say it, but it needs to be sounded like trumpets in Zion – to raise revenues so that we might take better care of one another.  

Won’t someone have the courage to make a bold argument that asks us all, as a compassionate and brave people, to take care of one another, and assume we’re grown up enough to know that – of course, it’s going to cost us something – and that we might be proud to pay it.

Proud to pay for compassion.  Proud to pay for infrastructure.  Proud to pay for education and entrepreneurship and the public good.

That is what I am here for, and our allies are here for, to fight for our pride in American compassion and for a renewal of our hearts.  We will raise our voices so our Governor and our legislators hear God’s cry for the poor.

We will raise our voices until the millionaires and the corporations and the bankers renew their hearts and pay their fair share for a just and healthy society.

The sages, the prophets, the gurus, the professors have all echoed the same words across time:  it is only a generous heart that knows true peace.

It is only a generous heart that knows true peace.

Not a one-time generosity that is pulled this way or that way to put a few more dollars in the collection plate, or a one-time check scratched out when you feel so moved – no.

A generous heart is a heart defined by the desire to always seek healing, and a better life for those who have less than we do.  

A generous heart is a heart that builds a culture of giving and sacrifice for all –

And that, we believe and profess as people of faith, is what brings us closer to God, and that is what truly makes us the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I leave with the words of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said,

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial.  It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs re-structuring.”

That re-structuring Dr. King referenced, must first happen here, in our hearts – our brave, free, compassionate American hearts –

Lest all the budgets, lest all the legislation, lest all the programs, and lest all the tired speeches, count for nothing.

Renew your heart, Brother Governor.

Renew, re-structure, and God, I pray, that we might be reconciled.

Amen.

--Pastor Daniel Ruen of Grace Lutheran Church of Evanston

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