As our journey into Lent continues we turn to Dale Edmondson for insight. Both “To Connect Deeply with Ourselves” (today) and “The Lent We Do Not Choose” (tomorrow) are excerpts from a sermon he delivered at Northbrae Community Church on February 28th.
To Connect Deeply with Ourselves
The Lenten observance has been part of the Christian tradition since its early centuries, with various expressions being added to along the way. Its purpose was to help shape our spirituality, to be more in touch with our personhood, and to make us more open to the Divine presence. The practices of Lent were disciplines for a purpose beyond themselves; they were not intended to be ends in themselves.
The disciplines of lent spring from our wish to connect with our true selves. We engage in them to bring about our integration, to being fully ourselves, throwing off all sham and pretense. And here’s an amazing discovery: in connecting most deeply with ourselves, we connect with God.
How can this be? Wouldn’t that be a form of idolatry–placing ourselves at the center of our universe? Aren’t we to be shaped by God, rather than shaping God after ourselves? Traditional theology asserts that God is totally other than our self. One word for this is “transcendent,” that is, high above, beyond our reach. In pre-Copernican times, when our understanding of the cosmos was of a flat world with a “heaven” up, up, and away, the metaphor of transcendence communicated effectively. But where now is “up?” The place of connection? In our time can’t this reality be best understood as “deep within?”
To the surprise of some, we find this isn’t a new idea. At the heart of the Jesus story is his parable in which the judge of humankind says to those who gave food to the hungry, clothing to those without, visitation to the incarcerated, “inasmuch as you did it to one of these . . . you did it to me!” Incredibly, he was saying there’s divinity in the most needy and marginalized. And, in one of the great stories of the Faith, the disciples offer hospitality to a stranger along the road to Emmaus and discover in that act that he is the resurrected Jesus.
We encounter God in the depths, both of ourselves and in the depth of our connection with others.
The LABC Youth Group meets tonight at 7:00.
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