LENTEN DEVOTION for Tuesday, February 27


God of my friend and stranger: clarify my vision, heighten my senses that I might see you in those I meet this day.


Abba Zosimas always liked to say, "It is not possessing something that is harmful, but being attached to it." 
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (Matt. 19:21) 


The early Christians had an overwhelmingly negative attitude toward wealth and possessions. This is abundantly clear in the New Testament but often obscured because, well...many, if not most, of us have much in the way of wealth and possessions. Jesus made this clear in what he said to the rich young ruler and how he instructed disciples to preach the gospel (see Luke 10). And, of course, the first church sold all their possessions (see Acts 2). David Bentley Hart, a theologian who just published a new translation of the New Testament, saw while translating that these writers "alarmingly" warn against wealth and property as a "moral danger" at best.

The desert teachers also saw in material possessions and money a danger. While some certainly saw wealth and property as an inherent evil, others did not think in this way. This is evident in our saying from Abba Zosimas. Money and material things are more or less neutral, it seems. The harm comes with attachment. When we hold onto our possessions with tight fists, saving money only to see the figure increase, money and material become an end in themselves. For people of faith, accumulation is not an end in itself. We are recipients of God's giving and God's gifts are meant to be given in return. We participate in an economy of grace, an endless flow of gift and receipt. When we get attached, we stop the flow.

What are you clinging to? What might you let go in order to let grace flow? 


  Generous God, may I live this day with open hands. Amen. 

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