Wednesday, September 29, 2004

An Atonement of God's Presence

Last Friday, Patrick and I went to a local synagogue for the Kol Nidre service in preparation for Yom Kippur. I was struck by the following reading in the liturgy:

When justice burns within us like a flaming fire, when love evokes willing sacrifice from us, when, to the last full measure of selfless devotion, we demonstrate our belief in the ultimate triumph of truth and righteousness, then Your goodness enters our lives; then You live within our hearts, and we through righteousness behold Your presence.

(there's more)
The passage draws together in my mind the interrelatedness of our action (justice, love, willing sacrifice, selfless devotion, demonstrable belief) and the nearness of God (entering our lives, living in our hearts, in a presence we behold). For me, it gives a bit of reality to the usually trite claim of "God living in my heart". When we live out the character of God in justice, love, and peace... it is then that we see God's presence in us.

The tangible enfleshment of the nature of the Divine in the life of the Human draws out redemption in such a way that just might be understood as atonement.

2 comments:

geoff said...

wonderful! thanks for this clinton....it rings true with the Habakkuk reading this week, particularly 2:4 - "...but the righteous live by their faithfulness."
i love the possibility of being caught up in God's presence when we participate in justice, mercy, peace, love, and hope.

billy said...

Clinton,

Thanks for this well written and thoughtful post. It reminds me of the distinction C.S. Lewis makes in the beginning of "The Four Loves," while talking about what it means to be made in God's image. He distinguishes between what he describes as a nearness to God by virtue of "approach," and a nearness to God by virtue of our "likeness" to God, where "approach" is our deliberate effort to draw close to God by choosing the good, and "likeness" is simply what we have by means of our being created, and hence doesn't require much effort on our part. I think its an important distinction, because as you aptly point out, it puts the honus upon us to take what we've been given and do the right thing.

Also, thanks so much for posting the photos to my last entry-it looks great.....I love and admire you greatly.....