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Psalm 116:1-4
 
I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!" (ESV)
Right In Your Own Mind
Ambrose of Milan, Pastor and Hymnwriter
7 December 2015
The mind is a great gift from God. It is a terrible thing to waste. Yet those who live entirely and exclusively a life of the mind, no matter how rich that may be, nor how powerful the mind, are themselves wasting that mind. A right faith moves in the direction of right worship. At various times in the history of the church there have been movements toward purely contemplative forms of Christianity. Eremite monks had themselves walled up in cells, cut off from human contact and sometimes for years at a time. They desired an undisturbed and untroubled opportunity to contemplate the divine gifts and even the essence of God. They attempted to rise into the presence of the Almighty God to fathom the depths of His substance. They even attempted to become entirely lost in Him. The great mystics, like Catherine of Siena, sought to love God perfectly and to be merged into Him, as Catherine thought, by a mystical marriage with Christ. Unfortunately, the mind so occupied with heaven is of no earthly good.
 
Christianity, by contrast, is a way of life quite different from that conceived by the mystics and those who want to proceed from their own minds into the mind of God. Instead, Christianity is a practical religion in which action arises and grows out of the seed bed of the divine revelation in Jesus Christ. The revelation of God in Christ to the world obviates the need for us humans to merge ourselves with God through our contemplations of Him. The mind is not capable of that ascent. Instead God condescends to come to us in the fleshly incarnation of his only begotten Son (Jn 1:18). There is no going up. There is only God coming down.
 
God comes into the world to serve it. He does not expect the world to ascend to Him. The incarnation changes our relationship with the creation. It is not something to be escaped, but properly embraced. As a part of the creation, God enters the creation which He made. He sanctifies flesh and blood and its life in the world this way. We live lives of service in the flesh, through which our lives become a constant doxology. Our lives become lives of praise to the God who has taken our human flesh and lived in His creation with us and for us. Retreat into the mind and contemplation of the divine is then entirely impossible, for it is not the context in which God reveals himself or through which God's will is done on earth, as it is in heaven. We may not merely contemplate God in our Christian lives, but actively seek His praise in the world by sharing the mystery of the incarnation and our salvation with the world. Having clergy who know the faith is simply inadequate, if they are unable to express it and teach it. Being right in your own mind is of no benefit to the world. We must speak because we have believed (2Co 4:13).

 

Gregory Nazianzus

"You are longing for me to give an exposition of the faith, as far as I am able. For I shall myself be sanctified by that effort and the people who hear it will also be benefited, by their special delight in such discussions. You must fully acknowledge this, unless I am the object of groundless envy, as the rival of those whom we do not excel, in the manifestation of the truth. For as in the case of deep waters, some things in the depths are utterly hidden, some foam against an obstacle and hesitate awhile before breaking into a wave (as they promise to our ears), and some do actually break into waves. So also those who are professors of the divine philosophy (setting aside the completely misguided); some keep their piety entirely secret and hidden within themselves, some are not far from the birth pangs, avoiding unbelief, yet not speaking out their faith, either from cautious reserve in their teaching, or under pressure of fear. They say that they are sound in their own thoughts, but not making sound their people, as if they had been entrusted with the government of their own souls, but not of those of others. There are others who make public their treasure in teaching, and are unable to restrain themselves from giving birth to their faith, and do not consider salvation that saves themselves alone, without bestowing upon others the overflow of their blessings. Among these would I range myself, and all who by my side have nobly dared to confess the truth."

Gregory Nazianzus, Theological Oration, 42.14
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus, turn us outside of ourselves to share what You have revealed to us in Your life and death. Keep us from becoming self-focused and allow us to share the faith You have given to us. Amen.
 
For Christians who are preparing themselves for Christ's second coming, that they might watch with Christ but one little hour and be ready for His return
 
For the gift of beautiful weather, that we might receive it with thanks to the Giver of every good and perfect gift
 
For all those suffering from seasonal illnesses, that they would be granted rest and a full recovery
Art: VOUET, Simon  Annunciation  (1640s)

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