Monday, July 29, 2013

Loving God

Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.  --Matthew 22:37 (Douay-Rheims)
Loving God is a simple, yet challenging, task.  It isn't really accomplished through so many common everyday avenues -- avenues like following what is legal or following what the society/culture accepts as "normal" or necessarily even adhering strictly to what your church, teachers, or parents taught.  To love God requires a spiritual awakening within your soul that attunes itself to that wee small (but strong) presence.  All the other avenues while possibly helpful in the quest to love God, really don't accomplish the whole task.  I don't believe we fully love God only by being busy for God.  By being busy for God I mean having the to-do check-list -- you know the one: 

  • Went to church
  • Taught Sunday School
  • Fed the hungry
  • Said nighttime prayers with the children
  • Said mealtime prayers

Check, check, and check.  Those things are not bad (and are even helpful) but there is something more and richer than doing for God.  There is being with God.  Being with God is being still and knowing the nearness of God to you.  That nearness is ever-present, yet flurries of activity, or worries, or busy thinking keep us at arms length from experiencing it.  Pausing from all the bustle of living, in the quiet dark of night and feeling our own personal loneliness in our soul as a unique individual who is beloved by God allows in the sweet living spirit that nourishes the love between Lover and beloved.  The way to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind is to plumb the depths of silence for the One who carries you eternally forward in time -- to sense the depth of intimate caring and concern that God has for you and whatever you are enduring.  Be still, know and love God.

Merciful Lover of our heart, soul, and mind, release us from all our doing and busy-ness to find and have moments and moments every day where through our silence we sense -- touch, feel, hear, or see you more clearly and dearly.  Amen. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Your God Is Too Small

And it shall come to pass, when ye are multiplied in the land and become fruitful, in those days, saith Jehovah, they shall say no more, Ark of the covenant of Jehovah! neither shall it come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit [it]; neither shall it be done any more.  At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah;  -- Jeremiah 3:16-17 (Darby)
J.B. Phillips wrote a book entitled, Your God Is Too Small.  It became a favorite saying of my parents.  The Bible reveals a growth in the concept of God.  Abraham owns private household gods, which he packs up and moves with him wherever he goes.  God grows a little bit when the nomadic Hebrews put a larger God in a box - the Ark of the Covenant.  Everyone worships at the Ark of the Covenant.  Then they settle on the land and King David comes along to build a Temple from which flows the blood of many sacrifices offered to a God (and a priestly class) who apparently need to feed a lot off the sins of the people.  Jeremiah proclaims that the people will forget all about the Ark of the Covenant and flock to Jerusalem where this temple is the Throne of God.  The Assyrians attack and then the Babylonians level the Temple and take the leaders into exile.  God grows again in this forced removal of the people away from the geographical location of God.  God for the first time goes out to the people, rather than them always coming to God.  God steps out of the limited sacrificial rites by incarnating into the person we call Jesus.  Through God in Christ we learn of an expansive God grounded in love.    We have forgotten the Temple now.  Today we live with three emblematic reminders of God who we serve as much as who serves us... 1) The Holy Spirit, 2) The host and cup, and 3) The body of Christ, the Church.   We live out our faith outside church walls... taking the Love of God gained through our relationship with Christ into the streets in acts of mercy and justice.  Instead of a partisan God who only blesses the Baptist, the Methodist, the Anglican, or the Presbyterian... God is the Spirit who blesses all and fosters a viable working cooperative relationship in delivering food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, visits to the prisoner, and homes for the homeless.

If you don't get out much and see the acts of God for the people of God, perhaps your God is too small.  If you haven't experienced the grace and acceptance of a loving God through the voices and lives of the alienated, the disenfranchised, the immigrant, the abused, the homeless then perhaps your God is too small.  If you can only find God when you go to your church, sit in your pew, and pass the peace only to those you know best, or who look just like you perhaps your God is too small.  Get out there and find the moving, changing, growing, and transforming love of a God bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than any you may have ever encountered before.

Move us out O God, from our staid, small boxes and walled vaults into work expanding your heavenly Realm.  Through Christ, in Christ, and by Christ make us one with each other, and one for all the world.  Amen.