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“It is good and right that our own understanding of God and God’s purposes should change and develop.” Geoffrey Tristram, Anglican monk
“[All of] life is engulfed in God and God can reach out to us anywhere at any level.” – Evelyn Underhill
I firmly believe that God appears to us as we see God; if we see God as Love then so God appears. If we see God as angry, so too will God appear. If all I see is an angry God in Scriptures, then so shall God be. If I see God as Love, then too shall God be. In truth, each of us holds the power of perception over how God comes to us. Maybe all that needs to happen is the slight transformation of how we see God in order to become more open to real grace and to grow closer to God as God Is (and not as I see God).
Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong said that “imagining God as a “being” with primarily anthropomorphic constructs is an immature way of imagining God.” I could not agree more. The late theologian Paul Tillich nailed it on the head when he spoke of God not as “a being,” but rather as the “Ground of all Being.”
My spiritual task is to “discover the Infinite in the finite.” My passion, my hunger and my search in life is for oneness with God, not some fairy-tale, mythological/magical intervention by God.
As I watch and study Christians from all walks of life and from every construct (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) I am coming to believe that the greatest enemy of (our) faith in God is not doubt, but certainty. By its very nature, certainty blocks the child-like nature needed to see and experience God unfettered, without constraint. ‘Certainty’ assumes a perspective that can become myopically idolatrous – the belief that my beliefs are the Truth (rather than my experience of truth) and that there is no need or room for the evolution of beliefs.
Our Scriptures are thousands of years old, our creeds are more than 1500 years old and our liturgies are about 500 years old and our Christian faith has evolved almost nil. Every single facet and paradigm of human existence has evolved and changed in some capacity or another in that time period: science; technology; medicine; politics; education; economies; philosophies. But NOT so much in the Christian faith.
I wonder why that is…
In the early years of Christianity, the common hallmarks of those who followed Jesus (and and who were called people of the Way long before they were called Christians – which means by the way, “little Christ/little Messiah”) included their immense and passionate care and love of each other, their enemies and the poor, the widows and orphans; they were also known for not serving in the military and for burying not on their own dead but the dead of the ‘pagans’ as well (not only a gracious thing to do but a HUGE public health positive that helped stop the spread of disease). You can study the manuscripts of non-Christian historians and writers and even they wrote of this as a “marvel to behold.”
Now if I run that by what Christians are known for today (at least the ones we see on the news and on political talk shows and read about in the news) : almost violent and all consuming in their being against abortion; hating gays, lesbians and all who are different; cutting social welfare programs and healthcare; hating all Muslims; protecting the 2nd Amendment at all costs; anti-immigration nationalism; and a stark aloofness towards climate change and protecting and preserving God’s creation.
As the old 1990s song says: “things that make you go, ‘hmmmm.’”
God may be never changing, but I must…change. I must allow God to ‘evolve’ me with a revolution of the heart – a revolution of radical love that alters my own agenda, placing it at the service of loving neighbor, showing mercy, doing justice, and practicing kindness regardless of my religion or denomination or political slant.
In the end, I pray for God to evolve me into someone who imitates God and that, my friends, would indeed be a Revolution!
God is Love. So says the writer of 1 John. Synonyms. The writer also tells us that perfect Love casts out fear. Perfect love. Completed love. Love that has reached its telos, its end. This Love that is God casts out fear. Love wins, in the end, in the telos, this is the bedrock of my faith.
God’s plan for healing, for peace, for shalom, for justice, wins. This gets me up in the morning. It is my testimony and the testimony of my ancestors. No matter the current situation, no matter the disappointing lack of civility and conscience, the scorching heat of vitriol and violence–God is Love.
God’s Love trumps hatred. God’s Light eclipses darkness, can’t be overcome by darkness. So says our holy book. And Love has a purpose, a focus, a plan. It will not be defeated. Love will win. God will win. Love, in the [Kairos] space, in fact, has already won.
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is an activist, public theologian, and author. She is Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan.
One thing I’ve learned over the last few days is that when you move to a new place all the demons and insecurities come out, in full.
As many of you know, I just moved (back) to Roanoke, Virginia to be with and help out my gravely ill brother Kevin and I’ve had to do what thousands of people do every day: become familiar with the Unknown. But what has happened over the last few days is that my eyes are seeing weirdly, seeing things like everyone is, well, pretty and happy, and buff, and in loving relationships, owning nice cars (that work), have no troubles, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I know that is not true. But I need to vomit that out, and I feel better.
Of course not EVERY one I see or meet is in that perfect state of bliss, but doing what I try to do with my life and turn inward to ask myself what is ill at ease within me rather than outwardly to blame and judge others, I am finding that all my insecurities are raging.
I feel lonely, and ugly, and old. I’m no longer hip, or cool. I have nothing to offer these people in Roanoke whether professionally or personally, spiritually or intelligently. At least, that is what my monkey mind is saying is the case. “You are worthless” says the voice of emptiness and ego. “You made a mistake moving to Roanoke.”
In truth, my brother is angry at me for putting his “story” out there to people to try and raise moving expenses; but I know he is not angry at me, but at the surplus powerlessness he feels with his ever diminishing health. No one likes to be powerless and needy, least of all my boot strapping big brother.
Change is everywhere I look; and in everything I feel. Much like my brother Kevin, I am riding this roller coaster called my Life and sometimes my hands are off the bar up in the air yelling, “wheeeeeee” and other times I am gripping the bar, white as a ghost, fearing for my very existence and as out of control as one can be.
But that is the nature of change. THAT is why it is called CHANGE…because everything does. In the rooms of recovery we are admonished with this truth, “change I must or die I will.” Sometimes I re-write that to say “change I must AND therefore die I will.” In this change of location – which is also rich in metaphor for the change that is occurring in the inner world – I am being afforded new opportunities to allow the darkness and demons, the weakness and frailty to be touched by the comforting and disturbing grace of God.
Simple phrase, catchphrases, sometimes piss me off. They try to capture grand truths in the span of a few words. Most of the time I find that offensive. But sometimes, I am humbled when I realize some truths can be simple (but not necessarily easy).
Like when I read something a friend sent me that his college professor reminded him: our Work in life is to find the Sacred in the mundane; and failing that, our Work is to create, foster and build the Sacred within the mundane.
It reminds me of Brother Lawrence and his admonition to find and be with God while doing the dishes and cleaning house.
It reminds me of one of the most famous statements from the co-founder of A.A., Dr. Bob Smith, when he said it so simply “clean house, trust God, help others.”
It’s so simple…sometimes.
P.S. Thank you to all who gave to the GoFundMe Campaign. Honestly, less than one-fourth was raised. The move was successful, I am back in Roanoke beginning my new life being with my brother Kevin, but the day I moved here my Subaru blew up. So, I’m asking if folks could help again in me reaching my goal – I need the car to get my brother around to doctors’ appointments and for me to get to work. If you can give, please do; if you don’t want to, I ask you to post on your Facebook or pass it along. Blessings