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Are You Taxed?

It's that time of year! We've probably been fretting about and figuring out our tax returns for a while now in hopes of either cashing in on a refund or avoiding the government's penalizing punishment for dragging our financial feet. It is our civic duty. It is part of the privilege of living in the United States. It is (as is commonly said) unavoidable. And it can be stressful. Taxing indeed!

But we accept it as a way of life. And for now, it's the way the country operates. So, we comply until something changes. Change, of course, would come with a price. All change costs something. Even positive changes create shifts that have repercussions. Have you moved? Changed jobs? Lost weight? Gotten married? Gone on a vacation? Such shifts have an impact and not only on you because you - we - are connected to others.

And connections with others may have the flavor of transactions. You help me; I help you and now the "score" is even. But what happens when the scorecard is out of balance? When we feel indebted to someone? When we believe we'll never be able to "repay" another? And why is it so hard for us at times to accept a gift? Receive the grace of it? Love the giver for giving it? Are we taxed by the generosity of others? Stressed by trying to keep up with an ever shifting score?

What if we could let go of an accounting approach to life? What if we forfeited the whole business of keeping score? What if we celebrated connections and relished relationships without analyzing them through the lens of a bookkeeper? It could be a liberating shift! And it would be a change that comes with a cost.

As the season of Lent is nearing its not so grand finale in Holy Week, we continue to reflect on our connectedness to God and to others of our kind. This Sunday's texts invite us to consider the cost of change. To tilt us in that uncomfortable direction, here are some blunt words from Robert Capon to mull over: "Confession turns out to be something other than we thought. It is not the admission of a mistake which, thank God and our better nature, we have finally recognized and corrected. Rather it is the admission that we are dead in our sins - that we have no power of ourselves either to save ourselves or to convince anyone else that we are worth saving. It is the recognition that our whole life is finally and forever out of our hands and that if we ever live again, our life will be entirely the gift of some gracious other."

Turns out God is a terrible bookkeeper! Do we find ourselves taxed by such grace? Are we willing to bear the cost of a changed life? These questions and more will lead us as we are engaged by God's nimble Word!

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