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God is Revealed to Those Who Reveal Themselves

During the season of Lent one takes on certain spiritual disciplines. In addition to practices that curb our physical appetites, it is a time for increased attention to prayer, to study, reading of Scripture, and meditation. All of this is vitally important as a way of getting back to the center of our lives, and making them cohere once again...all of these things are helpful only when we drop the masks and let ourselves be seen. God then reveals himself.

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How Can These Things Be?

Gifts, true gifts, can utterly baffle us...a gift given for absolutely no reason but the generosity of the giver, given out of the blue and that is utterly unanticipated, and that expects nothing in return, we really have a hard time understanding...With the God of grace and with the grace he bestows upon us, which is often unimaginable and certainly unexpected, that is all that we can say. “How can these things be?” For, this gift was given not only to us, but to the whole world. If we accept it in love and faith, and think the world through it, we can reach no other conclusion about our own lives than that we are to do everything that we can, by grace, to make sure that it goes out to the world, giving it light and life. It means that we, too, can go beyond the economy of giving gifts as a matter of mutual give and take.

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Not by Bread Alone

“What does it mean to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God?” It doesn’t just mean paying attention to what the Bible says and following it closely, although reading and following what the Bible says are surely important and part of the process. In the end, it means something deeper. For, to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God is to live, to be in a holy relation with others, including God. It is to live in a way that comes from taking into ourselves God’s living word in God’s called community. To live that way, is to have the gift of balance that we otherwise so often miss or struggle to achieve.

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Mountaintop Experiences

On top of a mountain, one can view the world from a perspective that the ancients called sub specie aeternitatis, that is, from the perspective of eternity. I can tell you that to stand a couple of thousand feet above the world makes it and its problems look pretty small. That is very good for releasing one from anxiety, which is almost always produced by blowing problems way up and way out of proportion. When we are anxious, those problems are huge. They are overwhelming, and, we think, incredibly threatening. We cannot see anything except in their light. But once you can view them from the perspective of eternity, you start to realize that they really aren’t so big after all; there are things bigger. It isn’t just that the view from mountaintops makes things look smaller, it is that the view from the mountaintop also gives one a sense of awe, a sense that comes from seeing what really is huge, and amazing and breathtaking. To see a whole world like that encompassed within a horizon that is nearly boundless, and to realize that even that huge world is small in comparison to the God who made it and is its Lord, is to get a renewed sense of who we are as creatures.

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The Demand of the Other

The moral law, the one that fulfills righteousness, begins and ends in recognizing the claim that others have on us simply by virtue of being human beings, creatures, like us, of God who made all of us – friends, relatives, strangers, enemies. It begins in the fact that we are not alone, and that we are never alone. It is not a matter of figuring out how we can get from one place to another in life without running into others. It is a matter of taking seriously from our very inner being that others are sacred, all of the time, everywhere.

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