In HOPE 10.20

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David Timms


Recommended Reading

Gregg Ten Elshof has written an insightful little book that is worth both a read and a re-read -- I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life (Eerdman's, 2009). The book explores the various ways that we deceive ourselves (and therefore stymie our spiritual growth) and ways that we can constructively address it. This will get you thinking ... deeply. 

Prayer for Today

Father, help me see more than the masses. Grant me a vision for the stories, the hurts, the needs, and the joys of each "neighbor." And grant them a portion of your grace through me today. Amen.




“There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal….
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Sacrament of the Neighbor

Sitting at Starbucks, driving on the freeways, shopping for groceries, attending the baseball—they’re everywhere. People. Churches, stadiums, malls, and theaters have them by the busload. They hurry and scurry like disorganized ants—eating, talking, drinking, laughing, texting, driving (and sometimes all of that at the same time). Nameless. Placeless. Story-less—to us. As we are to them.

A crowded train or elevator makes us claustrophobic. A room full of strangers makes us uncomfortable. And even folk we know can tire us.

But C.S. Lewis touches a truth of great proportions when he asserts that “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” How better to receive grace than through another person? How better to be blessed than by someone else?

The wonder of nature, the beauty of art, and the inspiration of music can all lift the soul. But none of it holds our hand or speaks affirmation to us; none of it listens to our pain or provides a Presence in our suffering; none of it weeps with us or rejoices with us.

That comes to us through people. 

My neighbor functions sacramentally in God’s plan for my life. And who is my neighbor? Jesus answered that question two millennia ago. The neighbor is potentially anyone. The terms “people” and “neighbor” share the same semantic domain in the Kingdom of God.

And lest we tend to look through or past those anonymous figures around us, Jesus declares that there are two commandments that govern all others – Love God; love others (not just some others but all others).

Of course, the issue then turns on us. Just when I start to look for grace from others, to expect affirmation and support from those around me, I find that in fact Christ calls me to be the sacrament to them. The sacrament of the neighbor begins with me being the sacrament to my neighbor; with the Father reaching them through me.

Yes, our neighbor is the holiest object presented to our senses ... particularly as we open ourselves to be a holy object to them. We become a mutual sacrament as I resolve to take the first step—which may be as simple as an interest in knowing (and using) a name. Let’s see (and pray for) the individuals, not the crowds.





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You can find back issues of "In HOPE" (2005-2010) at .

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.